Open shelving on a budget*

*That was blown on Day 1 of the project. Just sayin’.

Well, The Hubs finally finally FINALLY finished his training this past weekend and drove home from Georgia on Monday…he beat me home from the office and this was literally the very first text message he sent me when he walked in the door:


Did I marry the right man or what? =) I was a little nervous considering all the changes that I had made while he was away. But he loves it (and I would have tarred and feathered him if he had said anything different. Yeah, I get my threats from the 18th century. What about it?). His comment on the new grey living room: “It’s a grown-up color. It makes me feel calm.” His comment on the kitchen open shelving: “I HAVE A WHISKEY SHELF!!!” Lol. Yeah, that’s my husband. He cracks me up.

Anyway, this has been a crazy ride. There have been ups and downs. Money has been spent as part of the plan, and money spent that wasn’t part of the plan. I’ve cried, thrown up, eaten chocolate, agonized over wood stain colors and consumed far too much wine. There have been a few “holy crap that’s perfect and I didn’t even plan it!” moments, and even more “well, it’s good enough…” moments. I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob!

Here’s a rough budget breakdown for my open shelving project:

  • 1″x12″ white pine boards from Lowe’s, $27 for 8′ and 10′ boards
  • Everbilt 8″x10″ black metal shelf brackets for $12 from Home Depot, $1.46/each x9
  • Rust-Oleum Dark Walnut Wood Stain, $4.97 at Lowe’s
  • Rust-Oleum Soft Touch Poly Matte, $6 at Lowe’s
  • 4’x8′ Bead board wall panel x3, $54 at Lowe’s
  • 1 1/4″ shoe trim, 15′ long, $15-ish at Lowe’s
  • Olympic kitchen & bath paint, bright white semigloss, $23 at Lowe’s
  • Screws – $0, had on hand or raided Dad’s stash
  • Tools : saw, screwdrivers, drill bits – $0, had on hand (or borrowed from Dad)
  • Caulk – $0, had on hand
  • Paint pan, liner, brushes and rollers – $0, had on hand

Total: $142

Now, that’s not counting the $30 under-cabinet radio & iPad dock (which is now up to $70 on the site for some reason), or the $32 I spent on two Snapware 10-piece canister sets (no longer sold on the Carson’s website, but on Amazon) that I bought for organizing the pantry cabinet. But since those aren’t *technically* part of the open shelving project, I’m leaving them off the list. Also not on the list are the kitchen curtains that I SWEAR I am going to make one of these days. But anyways, without further ado, my first before-and-after=)





Yep, that’s a pile of dishes in the sink. Keeping it real! (Besides, isn’t it great that I have someone to cook for again?? I cooked for myself 3 times the entire 3 weeks The Hubs was away. 5 if you count baking a frozen pizza.)


So far I’m loving having everything I need out and immediately accessible.


Re-arranging these shelves is my new favorite thing.


I’m back to having a utensil crock! I’m not sure that I have the visual space now for my grundtal utensil hanging bar, and besides, I love how crisp the white beadboard wall looks and don’t feel like covering it up right now.


I stole that painting from the master bedroom. I think the rustic whitewashed frame and cozy warm colors fit into the kitchen perfectly, and also tie in to the Persian rug under our kitchen table.




Yeah, The Hubs has a whiskey shelf. I got tired of all his bottles taking over my fridge! The bar shelf feels, IMO, delightfully Mad Men. Also, we have 16 mugs and I use 1. Basically, they need to be rehomed to the spare room, and then the top shelf won’t have so much visual clutter.


The funny thing is that The Hubs hardly ever drinks! He enjoys comparing the different whiskey flavors, but is to classy to get trashed.


I found this at TJ Maxx for $5.99, it’s a ceramic bowl with an air-tight lid. It’s the perfect new food dish for the puppies, and when they don’t finish their food I can close it up and save it for their next meal! Love it.



I’m also eyeballing that “leaning tower of plates” on the top shelf, those might end up being rehomed along with the extra mugs. It’s great to have extra dishes on hand for the rare times we have company, but currently they just add visual clutter. I’m seeing a white cake stand up there instead, with a side of silver platter.


My ribba cork shadowbox is one of the frames kicked out of the living room. I think the corks tie it in with the kitchen, and the blue of my “D is for Dachshund” print pairs nicely with the other kitchen colors as well.


The middle and large canisters were a Christmas present, thanks Jen! Dog food, rice, and finch food. I think they look perfectly farmhouse against the white beadboard backsplash.


The knife rack was rehomed to this wall, and my ceramic pig towel holder moved over. The Hubs is going to help me put my spice rack up above the knives when he gets the chance =)


I played with the panorama function on my iPhone and this is what I got. Funky!

Open shelving is one of those things that tends to polarize people…they either love it, or hate it! I’m firmly in the “love it” camp (duh). I have no problems with running a swiffer duster over my shelves once a week, and rinsing plates or bowls off before I use them. I want my kitchen to feel used and loved, for pretty plates and vases to be proudly on display, and for no one to ever, EVER have to ask me which cabinet is the cups, ever again.=P Plus, in such a teensy kitchen, removing the upper cabinets let in so. much. space! I can work at the counter without feeling like my face is smashed into a cabinet (surely I’m not the only one that would feel that way!). Appliances are stashed in the lower cabinets and I’m enjoying my abundance of counter space.

I don’t regret going over-budget by finishing the wall off with beadboard. I don’t regret getting rid of that behemoth over-range microwave. I don’t regret choosing to stain my shelves dark instead of painting them white or leaving them natural (it’s all about the contrasts!). If I had to find a regret, it would be that there are so many kitchen appliances I feel like I have to have. We have a microwave, a toaster, a waffle maker, my (precious) kitchenaid, my keurig, a bread maker, a George Foreman grill, a rice cooker, a juicer, and a blender! Aside from  using the microwave and keurig daily, the bread maker and rice cooker are used weekly, and everything else is used maybe once a month, or every other month. Except the George Foreman, actually. I haven’t used that since we moved in over a year ago. Hmm, I should probably give that away soon! So I’ve got all of this STUFF that has to be stored. I’ll let you know if I come up with a better way to do it. Until then, enjoy my pretty open shelves, but don’t open the cabinets;)





8 thoughts on “Open shelving on a budget*

  1. Woah! This looks great! I love how everything coordinates, but it isn’t SO matchy-matchy that if you were to buy something from a different color palette it would throw off the whole room. It’s so livable, you did a killer job!

    • Thanks so much!!! That’s what I was going for – by keeping neutrals on the walls and shelves my bright accessories (apple-red Darth Vader candy dispenser, anyone?) pop against the background. It’s a timeless style that should keep me happy for a while =)

  2. Looks amazing!! I so want to do this but we do not have the lower cabinet storage space whatsoever to get rid of the upper shelves or my curved cabinet fronts would be gone faster than you can blink. Amazing job!! I too have a Whisky shelf!

    • Haha, whiskey shelves unite! Looking at ours makes me want tinkly little glasses with gold rims and a martini shaker. I don’t drink martinis, I just like the way the shakers look =P Yes, I definitely wouldn’t have attempted this project if I didn’t have someplace to stash the displaced appliances and “ugly” dishes. Maybe you could add a few free-floating shelves along an open wall for mugs and teas, like the sweet Ikea stainless steel ones? That would be cute & cottage-y without taking away any storage. Thanks for the kind words!

  3. A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Love it! So… when do you think you are going to be in MA again so I can hire you to help me? LOL Great job Hannah!

  4. Pingback: A sunny day | Cozy Crooked Cottage

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