Filling Up Our Kitchen’s Open Shelves (On Video)

Remember yesterday when our shelves looked like this?

Well, then I had fun doing this (if you’re at work, you can watch this without sound and totally get the gist):

If you check out the video you can see that I can actually reach everything up on those top shelves except for the stuff in the corner by the window, but it’s easy enough to sit on the counter to grab it.

Who knew I’d be able to reach all that stuff? I totally expected to have to scream “Joooooohn” whenever I needed something up there (he’s the chef of the family so that probably wouldn’t have happened very often anyway). Or use a step stool if he’s missing/outside/hiding and I’m really desperate. Haha.

So now our shelves are chock full o’ stuff, and are most definitely still a work in progress, but mighty cheerful and functional all the same…

It’s not necessarily where things will stay – just a first pass for sure. I actually have since re-stacked some of the bowls – and plates & dishes have gotten used so things are constantly changing. It really is a completely rotating display. The funny thing is that it’s kind of crazy to “perfectly style” kitchen shelves anyway since it’s all supposed to be used and is always being picked up or washed or put back so I have already declared that I WILL NOT BE CRAZY. And John is holding me to it. Hah. So since nothing is glued down or expected to remain exactly where I placed it OR ELSE, consider this to be just one “take” of many when it comes to our open shelves. I’m sure ceramic animals will worm their way in there somewhere. And I’m sure as we add crown molding and patch the ceiling (at which point everything has to come back down from the shelves) things might get switched up. But that’s half the fun when you’re me.

As you can see from the video, I didn’t give anything too much thought. Sometimes over-thinking can be the bane of your existence when you’re loading up shelves or a bookcase. So it was all sort of first-thought. So for anyone wondering about my method… I actually consciously tried not to think too much and just moved stuff around and stepped back and tried to focus on what I wanted to be easiest to grab and grouping things that made sense (like all the items for setting the dinner table and dessert stuff). I’m sure it’ll evolve and change – and most likely get better and more functional – over time. Here’s hoping, anyway! And you know I’ll take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

Oh and you can see from the shot above how shallow the brackets are and how deep our 12″ shelves are, so there’s plenty of room for stuff and the brackets don’t interfere with storage or anything. Whew.

But back to filling up those shelves. I tried hard not to think too hard (say that three times fast) but I did think about one thing the whole time I was at it: function. For example, I put our dessert bowls and dessert plates on the bottom right shelf and all of our large dinner dishes and cups and cereal bowls on the bottom left shelf. So those are closest at hand (and just a step or two away from the dishwasher with no cabinet doors to open, so that should be pretty convenient). Then the top shelves got things that we may use less often, but that still might sit out on counters in a kitchen anyway (ex: a cute cake stand, some bigger serving bowls, a vase, a bottle of my mom’s favorite bubbly drink, etc). We figure that even when those items sit in cabinets for a while they can get dusty, so it should be the same difference (a quick rinse and they’re ready to go). We’ll keep you posted on how it all works for sure.

Here’s how the room now looks from the office doorway. Such a difference. Although the not-stainless dishwasher still kills us, but soon enough we should have the new one installed. Oh and I meant to take a shot of the window straight on to show the balance of the shelves that are spaced 14″ from the right of it and the cabinet that’s spaced 14″ to the left of it… but I had a brain fart. Epic picture-taking fail. So that shot’s to come.

Memory lane time? Sure. The room used to look like this from the office doorway. Kinda crazy, right? I’m totally standing in the exact same spot – not any closer (see the counter cutting off at the bottom of each picture at nearly the same spot?). Isn’t it crazy how much closer the window feels in the picture below?

But let’s get back to the present. Do you hear a harp softly playing in the background or is it just me? Picture me twirling around with my arms out while orchestral music swells and birds come and fly around me holding ribbons in their beaks. Only less graceful and more awkward. And maybe the birds are just Burger and Clara holding toilet paper and spinning around beside me while I grin up at the can lights.

Oh and someone pointed out that we have lots of subtle curves going on with our brackets and our round penny tile and our round pendants. I love happy accidents like that! With more angular things like the range hood and the peninsula, it’s nice to have some softer shapes to complement them. High five for happy accidents.

Now that we have our pretty glass cups out in front of the boring clear ones we actually use them more. And I get to stare at them. Wait, that sounds creepy. I get to gaze at them. Better?

We think the random pops of blue, green, and yellow along with those two frames I stuck up there are fun. It’s definitely not a “magazine after” or anything – more like a gathering of all the stuff we actually use with some pretty decorative things tossed in there for fun. If a magazine blew in I think they’d probably add “more pretty” (flowers, lacquered boxes, candlesticks, etc) in exchange for “less function” (translation: I would love it and John would roll his eyes and say “um, where are all our plates and bowls and cups?”).

Oh and a bunch of folks asked if we considered a third row of shelves up top, but we figured once we loaded up those second shelves the stuff on them would balance with the top of the doorway, so anything above that might have been too heavy/cluttered for us. Plus that stuff would be really hard to reach/use.

And as for where we put the brackets, we wanted them all to be equally spaced on both sides (we looked at three on the left side but they didn’t feel as balanced with the ones on the right as four of them did). And that preferred layout thankfully worked with our studs (nearly all of our screws aligned perfectly and they feel really strong!), so after looking at a few different hanging options/bracket placements (and taping things off to help picture them) we just pulled the trigger and went with our favorite – which we thankfully love just as much in real life!

In short: we are so very happy with our wall o’ tile complete with glorious bracketed shelves full of sunshine and rainbows. Literally, the art actually says “Love Life” (it was the cover of a book that John got me, which I framed) and “Squeeze The Day” (a favorite flier from an old Boden catalog that came in the mail). We know open shelves (or these brackets/wall color/tile/pendants/stools/accessories) might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we dig it. And the whole photography crew for the book is being very cute about stroking and gazing right along with us (full disclosure: this is one of those things that looks better in person, and even the video completely fails to capture it) so you’ll all just have to come over when we’re done with all of the crazy book chaos. Haha. You can even pour yourself a drink since you know where we keep the cups…

In other news: oh happy day – the tulips are still alive! I keep meaning to drop a penny in the water while Clara’s around so we can watch them perk up. Thanks for all the flower tips guys!

Here’s another shot sans crown molding and a patched ceiling. Oh and there will soon be a pendant hanging down over the sink too. We’re trying to tackle that, just so we don’t have to stare at torn up ceilings for much longer. So yes, it’s definitely a work in progress, but we’re jazz-hands-crazy about how our little “refurbished” kitchen is shaping up. And we’re definitely even more impatient than you guys about the cork floors! Can’t wait to get there and call this turkey done. Hah.

And just because I’m nuts, here’s what I did while playing around in photoshop.

Flat brown paint dumped on the “floor” via photoshop hardly captures all the amazing texture that our marbled cork floors will bring, and the white paint dumped to replicate crown molding hardly looks real (nor does my crazy little made-up pendant over the sink, which will probably be a lot lighter looking and made of clear glass) but it was fun. And if you squint and hum the Dexter theme song, you can almoooooost see it (sidenote: John changed his ringtone from Dexter to the Parks & Recreation song, which saddened me for a nanosecond and then I realized how hilarious the Parks & Rec song is – we even set it to be our alarm tone too, just because it makes waking up extra early for book stuff almost pleasurable tolerable).

So spill it. Who is completely surprised that 5’2″ me can reach nearly everything on those upper shelves? That was a total unexpected bonus. Oh and for those wondering why there isn’t a crew of lovely book photoshoot people wandering in and out of the time lapse video, they have to set up lights for certain shots that take a while so they were shooting in the back bedrooms (and I gave them one of those “I’ll be back in thirty minutes, so hold tight and scream if you need me” things). Thankfully only John wandered in for a sec, so there were no photoshoot emergencies in the middle of my shelf-y fun (I even ducked out to answer some comment questions and take a call about our upcoming Portland gig). So as Martha would say, that’s a good thing. In summary: yay shelves. What have you guys been hanging/filling up with plates and bowls/filming in time lapse lately?

Psst- And now for a post about donuts.

UPDATE: We couldn’t love our open cabinets more. Check out a bracket tweak that we made here and an update post about how they function here here.


  1. Lisa W. says

    Another “where did you get…?” question. Where did you get that awesome radio on your counter by the tulips? I am in lurve!!

  2. Laura says

    It looks great! Quick question…. Are all of the things on the shelves items that you already owned, or did you guy buy some new kitchen things to match your color scheme since they’re now out in the open?

  3. Jennifer C. says

    Love, love, love the shelves and the styling! The video was fun too! I can’t believe how much your kitchen has changed… UH-mazing! Where did you find that cool yellow vase/bowl that’s on the top left shelf? Very cool! Love the texture.

  4. Melanie says

    I do love that wall. Adding the framed art was a particularly nice touch. Having those bright pops of color makes the grellow seem a bit anemic to me though. Admittedly, I’m not a a fan of that shade in the first place, but it’s your house and if you love, it all is well. I just think that with so much white/light colored stuff, this room could easily handle something a touch more saturated (even a more saturated grellow ;p). I have a similarly super-white kitchen (white cabinets, light floors, white ’50s square tile wainscotting around the entire room and as the countertops. When I moved in, the walls were painted a pale blue and, even though it was a pretty color, it just made the room look too washed out. I painted it bay leaf (from Martha Stewart) and it really gave the room new life.

    ANYway, if you love the grellow then thumbs up! But if you ever decide to change it somewhere down the road, the room could totally handle something stronger in saturation. The whole room has come a million miles from where it was before and looks great.

  5. says

    So confession,I wasn’t really feeling the room. Something was off although I know it’s still a work in progress. I always thought it was the wall color (not a big fan of it but it’s not my kitchen, lol) but then the photoshop of the floors made me realize it’s the floors and everything looks so polished with just that “simple” change. Can’t wait to see the cork floors and then the room will really pop.

  6. Justine Wicks says

    Wow! this looks amazing!!! so clean and fresh. Oh by the way, i just got my baby magazine in the mail. I began flipping through the pages when suddenly I exclaimed, “hey, I know them.” There in front of me were my two, favorite bloggers with pictures of Clara’s nursery! Once again, i was impressed:) Great job!

  7. Debbie C says

    Can’t believe it’s the same kitchen as that old dark brown one! I really like the open shelves. Where’d ya get the blue and green glass tumblers? So pretty! They remind me of summertime. :)

  8. Amy L. says

    Aw, it looks so nice. By the window, how does the tile terminate into the drywall? Is there a tile border of some sort?

  9. lindsay says

    I really think you guys want to take a field trip to southern maryland and help me and the hubby finish off our kitchen. Its missing something and really needs the little things finished so I can mark it off the list :)

    you guys are great and I can’t wait till you get the floors in.

  10. Helen says

    I like the brackets and appreciate them for both form and function. Floating shelves would definitely make me nervous about potential shelf collapse! But while you’re photoshopping, I wonder if you could humor us with a shoop that shows the brackets painted a grey color more similar to the penny tile? I’m wondering if that would make them pop a little less so that they’re not vying for attention with the lovely dishware. Or maybe they’ll actually become even more noticeable? Haha.

    • says

      Always another possibility! We’re not sure how it would look from the side (we like how they read as one white unit in profile) so we’ll have to see how it goes!


  11. darbi says

    Ok, so I have to admit, I have totally NOT been feeling this wall color and large expanse of white in the kitchen during this reno. But because I know you guys are fabulous, I’ve just been patiently waiting with a somewhat skeptic look on my face. The pops of color on the shelves are amazing! They just kind of bring it all together for me. I think it looks amazing now. It just breaks up all that white and the grellow (which I’m still not sure about) and makes the kitchen look happy. I’m ready for the floors now! :) Good job guys!

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