Stuff.  It can be everywhere. I’m a pretty tidy person, so this month, before summer arrives and takes my weekend motivation to do anything but bask on the sand, my task is to rummage through this year’s stuff and either recycle/sell, donate, give it to friends or family, or with great regret, throw it into the trash bin.  Still, I’ve got some pretty special stuff: antique “Candlewick” glassware, a beautiful turquoise/seafoam “Fiesta-ware” water pitcher (a great swap-meet find!), my cookbooks (namely my “Betty Crocker Picture Book” with the inclusion of my Grandma Karstad’s “burnt butter” recipe), and other unique items that deserve “display-level” treatment.

So, with that in mind, today’s quick-tip piggy-backs yesterday’s blog (“Kitchen Makeover on a Tight Budget“): how to arrange your open shelving, mainly so that it doesn’t become an unsightly clutter-catch-all.  Genevieve Gorder again steps in to help me pass on these simple design considerations:

1. Function: shelving, especially in the kitchen, should be functional.  Display useful items like glassware, cups, bowls, cookbooks, etc., or eatable food stuffs like fruit, nuts, cereals, or a bowl of snacks.

Photo courtesy of Yvonne Eijkenduijn of

*Extra tip: if you’d like to add a personal touch, include a single nick-knack in your display, or place one on each side of your cookbooks to act as “book ends”.

2. Less is More: keep display items to a minimum to avoid a cluttered look.  Think in sets of 3’s or 5’s.  If you have an open shelf displaying dishware, and you have sets of 6-8 (like me), go for it, then refer to the next tip below for color and style considerations.

3. Keep it Simple & Clean: with larger sets of dishware and/or glassware, the trick to keeping your open shelving from looking overcrowded is to keep the color and style scheme simple and clean-matching sets of white and clear dishes keeps the eye focused on the food.

Extra tip:  if you’re like me, I love color, as does my mother-in-law.  In her last home, she had a wall of open shelving where she displayed her very colorful, yet matching sets of Fiesta-ware plates, cups, bowls, and serving ware.  It was fun and fantastic.

When it comes to “being out there” and in the open, displaying your kitchen stuff should be like dressing for the beach…we wanna see the goods, just not all of them!

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