More than just a trend, homeowners are choosing to use open shelving in their kitchens as a way to create a distinctive style and add a more personal touch. Another reason people are making this choice is that open shelves cost less than traditional cabinetry. Of course, not every item in the kitchen needs to be on display, and closed cabinets continue to serve a purpose. But with the right design technique, featuring items on your open shelves can bring beauty and warmth into your kitchen. What are some tips to follow when styling your open kitchen shelves?

Mohammad Ahmed is an interior designer and also the founder and editor of The Home Guidance, a home design website that offers inspiring makeover ideas and suggestions. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, Ahmed explains how to create a personalized style in your kitchen through the use of open shelving. His background and expertise in interior design will help you make choices that complement the beauty of your home.

Choose the right color palette

Ahmed explains that the first step to take is to think about the colors in your kitchen. "To style open shelving in a kitchen, first consider your color palette," he says. "Choose one or two color schemes and stick with it." Ahmed goes on to say that neutral tones can be the best backdrop for open kitchen shelving.

A neutral palette gives you the opportunity to highlight the items that you choose to display on the open shelves. A colorful set of porcelain coffee cups next to a weathered cutting board can create a beautiful contrast in color and shape that will be highlighted by a neutral backdrop. Keeping the color scheme simple means there will be less contrast with the items you place on the shelves, so that your treasured collection of cookbooks will become the highlight of the kitchen, rather than the brightly colored shelf that they rest upon.

Add tasteful decor

Ahmed explains that once you've chosen your color palette, you should then think about what items will be on display. "The next thing to consider for styling open shelving in a kitchen is decor items — pretty serving dishes, kitchen tools, art, and interesting containers can bring life to your space." Including these decorative items will elevate the style of the space. 

It's also a chance to enjoy any treasures that have been stored away behind a cabinet door, such as a pretty piece of china from your grandmother's collection, or an antique coffee grinder that you discovered at a flea market. Then it's easy to redecorate your open shelves simply by switching out an item or two. Ahmed explains that dishware that is commonly used can also be part of the display. "Consider essentials you use every day such as plates, bowls, mugs, and glasses." Everyday items mixed with decorative pieces help to make the open shelving functional as well as beautiful.

Merge kitchenware with potted herbs

Ahmed's next suggestion involves a little greenery on the shelf. "A few potted herbs placed alongside kitchenware on a kitchen shelf will look beautiful and make it more attractive," he explains. The freshness of the plant provides a natural and pretty contrast with the other items on the shelf. Ahmed continues with a suggestion for choosing a potted herb. "If you don't know a lot about herbs, use a pothos — it's an indoor plant that grows fast and is easy to maintain," he explains. 

In addition to making your open shelf more beautiful, potted herbs are proven to be good for your health, according to Best Health. Fresh herbs provide a variety of benefits, such as the antioxidants in thyme, or the properties in oregano that reduce inflammation. Tending to the growth of a plant can help a person feel calmer and more relaxed, as well, which means that adding some greenery to your shelf is beneficial to your home in a great many ways.

Place items strategically

Ahmed continues with a suggestion for how to arrange the items on each shelf. "Now that you've chosen what to place on open shelves in the kitchen it's time to place items in [the] right spots. For example, assemble a group of three objects; the large one goes at the back, the medium-sized in front of the large, and the smallest closer to the front edge." This suggestion is a simple way to incorporate a design element into your display that is both beautiful and also practical. 

Ahmed states that this tip can be expanded. "This rule can also be applied if you choose five or seven items," he explains. As you choose items that are complementary in size, experiment with textures, as well. For example, the natural material of a large woven basket placed behind a small white enamel pitcher will lend depth and beauty to your arrangement. 

Don't overload your storage space

Once you begin to arrange items on your shelf, it's easy to become enthusiastic about all the pieces you want to display. Ahmed gives a word of caution though, "when styling open shelves in a kitchen, don't stack too high or overload your storage space. This will make your shelves look cluttered and unappealing," he says. This reminder is not just for aesthetic purposes but also for practical reasons. He states, "if you have excessive items stored on open shelves, you may knock something off if you reach for a plate on the bottom of a stack or a glass in the back." 

Resist the temptation to display every item you want to see on your shelves and make a decision about what pieces you would like to feature. It's easy to refresh your design simply by changing one or two pieces, and then your open shelves will never look cluttered or look the same way twice. Following these tips will ensure that your open shelves will always be a beautiful and practical addition to your kitchen and a reflection of your own personal taste.