How I Style Kitchen Shelves


Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Open kitchen shelves can be daunting. But they can give a sometimes quite functional and cold room character and warmth. Choose your kitchen equipment well and things you have love out for you to see while you make breakfast and it can really cheer things up.


Here are some tips from me:


Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Laurence McIntosh, styling by Jenny Angus

Edit:

You probably don't want everything out for all to see. It's all about editing and creating space around objects to allow them to stand out and be seen. And let's keep the cleaning to a minimum huh?

Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Old things:

Dig out old coffee pots, your fancy tea set, Granny's bowl and get them out on display. I love a mix of functional and pretty. When I dressed this home for a shoot, these beautiful ceramics were all in the homeowner's kitchen drawers and were rarely used. I popped them the shelves as a textural contrast to the pristine white tiles and the stainless steel of the worktop. It works as a lovely surprise and is a reminder of long-ago travels. And maybe they'll get used more.

Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Books:

Do you have bungs of cook books? Put them out where you can get to them easily and where they can be a daily inspiration for meal times. Books add so much to a space; colour, repeating shapes, height, the power to make you look knowlegable and smart. I love a run of just books on a bookshelf but I also love chucking in other objects too, keeping it varied with books on the vertical and the horizontal.

Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Storage:

Of course, if you are going to put groceries onto your shelves, make sure they're in pretty containers like these jar. Baskets, boxes and bowls look good too. And if you're filling up your jars at a refill store and saving on packaging, you're amazing! Bowls, cups and baskets are also useful little fellas for hiding small necessities like keys, spare buttons and similar guff that ends up in the kitchen.


Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Colour:

With thoughtful toning shades of tableware, a casual pile of cups and plates needs very little effort to make a shelf look braw. Especially of they compliment the kitchen's colours. (In this case, Farrow and Ball's Stiffkey Blue painted units) Also, the tagine and the books are in harmonious blue too which, along with the neutral whites, beige and creams, all help to keep the shelves from appearing too cluttered.


Photo by Kevin McCollum, kitchen by Murray and Murray, styling by Jenny Angus

Balance:

There's a lot going on with these dresser shelves. Before I styled them, they were full of family photos, kids art work and some piles of the day to day clutter that builds up (notes from school, pens and pencils, chargers). As that was not so much on brand for me or my client, I stripped them empty, then got filling with objects from the cupboards and my supplies. I've repeated similar shapes and scales to keep the balance. See with the burgundy tray and the old framed photograph? The serving dishes from shelf to shelf? The stem of the carafe, the bell, the small vase? I've also repeated colour: green dish, green limes, green leaves; blue dishes, white dishes. There's wood, there's glass, there's metal and paper. There is useful stuff and there is decorative stuff. And I've zigzagged these similarities to get your eye bobbing all over the image. (This is an old fashion merchandising trick I used to do when layout clothing departments in shops - it looks more pleasing and folk buy more. Shhh.)


Natural:

And then sometimes a higglety pigglety collection of kitchen necessities can work. Just pop out what you need. If you only have things you love or need in your home (like William Morris famously advised), things can tend to all fit together. The less contrived, the more pleasing, in my eyes.


And always add a plant!


So before you go off rearranging your kitchen shelves, you might like a little more inspiration. Then please let me know how you do.

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