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Trendy Display: 50 Kitchen Islands with Open Shelving

Open shelving in the kitchen is a tricky proposition, and some of us tend to strictly stay away from it because we are simply not organized enough. Closed cabinets offer a far safer storage option that lets you tuck away the mess and makes maintenance a lot easier. But adding open shelves to the kitchen island is a completely different proposition that unravels an entirely new world of possibilities. While the traditional approach to kitchen island design has always relied on closed cabinets, drawers and a few appliances being tucked away underneath, open shelving brings a refreshing new look to the classic island.

Kitchen islands with open shelves come in a diverse range of styles, forms and finishes, and if you do not find what you are looking for in the market, there are always bespoke solutions that one can turn to. These 50 exquisite kitchen islands with open shelving should inspire you to reconsider your kitchen design as well!

Books, Books & More Books

Kitchen islands with open shelves provide a perfect canvas to showcase your cookbooks beautifully while combing them with some decorative pieces. This is a trend that is catching on in most contemporary kitchens, with sleek open shelves at the front being filled up with colorful books that add a hint of uniqueness to the space. The size of the kitchen island, its shape and the design of the kitchen can determine where these open shelves filled with books sit so that you achieve the best aesthetics. For the large kitchen islands, a combination of open shelves and closed cabinets means you get the best of both worlds and do not waste all that space with empty shelves.

Modern kitchen with industrial style lighting and white island with open shelves [Design: Diane Bergeron Interiors]
Combine open shelves with closed cabinets for a smashing kitchen island [Design: Abode Architects]
Convenient placement of the open shelves in the kitchen [Design: Tara Seawright]
Kitchen island with bookshelves is an absolute showstopper in contemporary Perth home [Design: Mata Design Studio]
Farmhouse style kitchen with a lovely island that complements its style [Design: Godrich Interiors]

Another great idea here is to place the family room right next to the kitchen so that you can turn the kitchen island with open shelves into your small, personal library wall as well! Instead of cookbooks, fill these empty shelves with your personal book collection and create a cozy reading nook in the family room to make the most of it. Since kitchens in open plan living areas are often the social zones and heart and soul of the home, this makes perfect sense ergonomically as well.

Creative Use of Space

Think of ways to highlight those open shelves that go beyond the obvious like books. The ingenious and exclusive element can come from the shape and contours of the kitchen island and open shelves, or could be because of how you choose to utilize this new-found space. A good idea for foodies is a fabulous wine rack or even a curated display that proudly showcases their own little collection of intoxicating delights. Others have gone down the eclectic path and filled these open shelves with some firewood, turning it into a truly one-of-a-kind decorative piece! You can even throw in a few baskets to give it a more organized look while hiding away the contents.

Dashing kitchen island in gray with open shelving and sleek stainless steel countertop [From: Roundhouse]
Open kitchen island shelves offer a smart display for wine collection [Design: General Assembly]
Kitchen island used as firewood stacker in this beach style home [Design: Johnson + McLeod Design Consultants]
Reclaimed vintage haberdasher turned into a unique island for the eclectic kitchen [From: Alison Hammond Photography]

A Charming Display!

A kitchen island with open shelves gives you a great opportunity to add that gorgeous display to your kitchen that will steal the spotlight and end up becoming the visual focal point. With open shelves, the first thing you need to do is completely empty them before you actually chalk out a plan. This will give you clarity on what you wish to achieve. Apart from books, think of vases, pots, pans and chinaware that will energize the kitchen island while blending in with its color palette. Alternatively, you can also give the display a theme, color scheme and style of its own that offers contrast and textural beauty. But this is an approach that requires plenty of precision and the perfect balance of elements in the kitchen.

Open shelves add a fabulous display to the kitchen island [Design: Period Homes]
Black and white kitchen design with a modern twist [Design: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design]
Cherry wood kitchen island with delightful kitchenware on display [Design: Normandy Remodeling]
Conch shells and corals create a lovely display for the tropical kitchen [Design: At Home and Company]
Cozy traditional kitchen for an inviting cottage retreat [Design: Gatling Design]

Small and Open Islands

You need not give up on a beautiful kitchen island with open shelves just because your kitchen is really small. Even tiny kitchen islands can come with open shelves, and they tend to accentuate the breezy and open ambiance of your kitchen in an elegant manner. Another fun approach is to simply opt for the open kitchen island that seems like an industrial table and still has the aura of a lovely kitchen island. Instead of the traditional open shelves that adorn larger islands, the openness of the tiny open island gives you the opportunity to add a shelf or two below with ease to stack your pots and pans. Practical and striking, this will completely revamp your kitchen and make it far more efficient.

Custom built kitchen island in cherry wood stained with open shelves [Design: Anna Berglin Design]
Small kitchen island with open shelves for the traditional kitchen in white [Design: Erotas Building Corporation]
Tiny contemporary kitchen with island that features open shelving for smart storage [Design: Thibaut and Thewood]
Vintage family kitchen from Marchi
Bespoke kitchen brings back the classic style [From: Artichoke]

Complement your Kitchen Style

There is little doubting the fact that islands with open shelving seem perfectly at home in kitchens that embraces styles such as industrial, shabby chic, farmhouse and contemporary. If your kitchen has a distinct style and flavor, then the open shelves of the island will add to it with just a few tweaks and changes. While industrial and shabby chic kitchens look great with open shelves filled with pots and pans in steel and copper, their contemporary counterparts embrace refinement of porcelain ware. Open shelves filled with corals, conch shells and maybe a ship wheel as well will highlight the beach or nautical overtones of your kitchen, while Scandinavian settings demand more frugality and panache.

Industrial and Mediterranean elements rolled into one [From: Nosy Parker]
Cantilevered counter creates the perfect breakfast zone in this modern kitchen [Design: FGY Architects]
Elegant white kitchen island with dark, open shelves [Design: Croma Express Kitchens]
Black granite countertop makes a big visual impact in a kitchen draped in white [Design: Garrison Hullinger Interior Design]
Industrial kitchen with ceiling-hung shelves and an island with open shelves as well! [Design: Actual-Size Architecture]

Sherry Nothingam

Sherry is a blogger who loves to live her life to the fullest. She enjoys everything associated with design, décor and stylish modern trends. Born in California, Sherry has grown up on open ranches and in a wild setting, which has defined her taste for design and developed her interest in examining how structures and homes interact with the beauti[...]

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