How To Create Open Kitchen Shelving

Hi, friends! Today Ali from Homey Improvements is here at Dwelling in Happiness to share all about how to turn your kitchen cabinets into some fun open shelving! These tips and tricks are sure to help add a little character to your kitchen!

Filled with Dishes

Tips for Creating Open Kitchen Shelving

Whether you’re moving into a new place or you’re ready to give your well-loved kitchen a new look, open kitchen shelving is a chic, modern addition to any design plan.

It’s an easy change to make in any space with a weekend’s worth of time, especially because you can typically use your pre-existing cabinetry. It’s also a convenient choice for food storage. You can see when you’re running low on certain items, and you won’t have to dig through your pantry or cabinets to find anything. If everything’s well organized in baskets or rows, it looks great, too.

Below you’ll find all of the tools and materials you need, a step-by-step guide to follow, and my expert tips from when I made this transformation in my own kitchen.

Tools and Materials

  • Hammer in order to remove nails and screws from cabinets
  • Screwdriver or drill with various heads to remove and replace any screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Small paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth to protect the rest of your kitchen from paint
  • Paint and/or stain for your new cabinets


  1. First, you’ll have to remove the doors of the cabinets that you want to transform into open shelving. Use your screwdriver or drill to pull out screws, remove hinges, etc.

2. Once you’ve removed all of the doors, it’s time to sand your shelves so you can paint or re-paint your cabinets.

Pro tip: Do just enough to remove any paints, stains and sealants, as well as any imperfections on the wood. That way, your new coat of color will go on smoothly and evenly – no need to tire out your arms from oversanding. 

3. Next, you’ll have to tape off your cabinets so you don’t get any paint on your walls, backsplash or countertops. This step might feel tedious, but it’ll save you from having to do touchups later if you do it properly.

4. Start painting! The number of coats you do will depend on how you want your cabinets to look. A shabby-chic or rustic look might only require one imperfect coat, while a sleek and modern kitchen might have you bumping it up to two.

two coats cabinet pain down

Pro tip: You don’t need to rent a paint sprayer for this part of the project. In fact, some professional painters prefer to use brushes for this type of job so they can get into every nook and cranny and cover the cabinets completely. 

5. Once the paint on your shelves has dried, it’s time to embellish your cabinets so they look less like a run-of-the-mill shelf and more like a focal point for your kitchen. There are plenty of ways to do this. Some homeowners choose to make shelves pop by putting wallpaper or beadboarding on the back of the cabinet. You can also get creative and add some shelf brackets or other wooden details so that your shelves look like built-ins. Of course, you’ll have to paint these to match your new shelves, but the finished product will be worth all of your elbow grease.

Finish Wallpaper

In just one weekend, you can give your ho-hum kitchen cabinets a stylish, refreshing new look.

Filled with Dishes

A huge thanks to Ali for sharing these great tips! I love how the open shelving looks in her kitchen!

BIO: Ali is a tea-sipping blogger who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties.

8 thoughts on “How To Create Open Kitchen Shelving

  1. Its amazing how the cupboard just completely transformed. Though it doesn’t look like much work but I am sure, it must have taken you some good amount of time to complete this with such finish. Loved the DIY btw. Gonna share it on all our social media platforms.:)

    1. Thanks! Didn’t they do an amazing job? I love how it turned out, and I bet they do, too! I need to do some open shelving in my own kitchen soon! 🙂

  2. Hey Amanda,

    That was awesome! I love it! Would love to have something similar with this immediately. Just love the transformation of the kitchen shelving.


  3. Thank you for sharing this. Wanting to install open shelves in my kitchen and this post is perfect timing for ideas and inspiration. Excited for the transformation.

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