2018 Trends in Kitchen Design, Part 2: Shelving

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Shelves are at the center of proper kitchen design – because shelves are what you keep your stuff on! Whether inside cabinets or in the open, the location and arrangement of your shelves is vital to organization, space efficiency, and aesthetics. Smartly placed and properly spaced shelves contribute significantly to the look and utility of a modern kitchen.


One aspect that seems to have become vital to kitchens everywhere over the past decade is the central island. Not only does it create more counter space, but it creates more storage space as well. Islands provide homeowners with an opportunity to place more shelves in a highly accessible area. You can keep small plates, cups, bowls, etc. in these low-level shelves. They are particularly good for storing items that you want to be accessible to small children.
One common trend for island design is to have one side with an overhang for seating, one side with cabinets, and two opposite sides with open shelves.

Open Shelves

When people think of kitchen shelves, they often tend to think of plain planks of wood closed in behind cabinet or pantry doors. One look that is currently trending is the look of open shelves in the kitchen without any kind of enclosure. Designers are using sets of open shelves as accent pieces to interrupt what would otherwise be monotonous sets of cabinets.

Open shelves are particularly nice when you want to showcase special items such as fine porcelain or crystal. Because why keep your best things hidden?

Glass Cabinet Doors

As a middle ground between wooden cabinets and open shelves, some designers are creating kitchens with glass-door cabinets. The thought process here is similar to that of open shelves: they give you the opportunity to showcase special items. The glass doors themselves also add a certain refined and modern chic to the room while still leaving your carefully designed shelves visible.

Oak Construction

Oak is one of the strongest types of wood available. This makes it a very sensible choice for shelves, which often need to hold a lot of weight. This is particularly true for kitchen shelves, as they often have to hold heavy porcelain dishes and glasses.

In addition to its strength, something that people find appealing about oak is the beauty of its grain. The patterns of oak grain really stand out. For this reason, one look that is trending right now is natural-grain oak shelves contrasting against a solid color background. Some people also use whitewash or wood stain to give it some color while maintaining the natural grain.

Combine this trend with the open shelf or glass cabinet door trend, and you have a nice mixture of rustic and refined appearances.

Even if it is not necessarily oak, natural wood-grain shelves of various types are popping up a lot.

Clean Aesthetics

Something that a lot of homeowners are showing a preference for is a look that is cleaner and bordering on minimalist than what has been popular in recent years. This means that the walls behind shelves – as well as the shelves themselves – will often have neutral colors like gray or white or dull pastels. It also means that shelves will have less of a tendency of being dressed up with metallic accents.

The clean aesthetic trend has been around for a while. Many of us have probably seen minimalist kitchens all done in white with a few silver accents. Currently, the clean look is going a little less stark. While they still use neutral colors, people are having more of a tendency to use multiple neutral colors or shades instead of just one.

Pull-Out Shelves

Anyone who has spent much time in a kitchen knows how annoying it is to try to find and reach something that is way in the back on a cabinet shelf. Over the years, people have learned to deal with this issue by building cabinet shelves that pull out like drawers. Experts expect this trend to continue.

There are some problems that pull-out shelves can cause, though. For example, if you stack items to any height on them, the horizontal movement of pulling the shelves out or pushing them back in can cause these stacks to tumble. When you are dealing with things like half-open bags of powdered sugar, this can be a problem. However, people are handling this by building pull-out shelves with horizontal dividers that minimize motion.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are shelves that seem to “float” because they are only anchored to the wall and do not have any apparent supports to hold them in place. People like them because they create a bold and interrupting aesthetic.

Due to their unsupported nature, floating shelves normally cannot support very much weight. However, they are great for displaying decorations and special items.

Arcs and Curves

Kitchen cabinets, shelves, and counters have always naturally had a generally rectangular shape to them. However, there is now a growing trend in kitchens to have shelves and other things with graceful arcs and curves. They may be neat circular curves. They may also be more oblique and asymmetrical. Such curves can help to contribute to a certain feeling of softness and warmth.

They can also maximize space by not creating hard corners that jut out into walkways. By utilizing a more curved or arc shape, designers can optimize space by putting shelves on corners without being too intrusive.

Material Blocking

Blocking has been a popular trend in the recent past. This is when, instead of going for a monochromatic look, designers create a specific “block” of a certain color in a room. For example, a set of shelves may be set against a block of wall of Color A, some cabinets may be painted with Color B, and the paneling and shelves of an island may be done in Color C.

Now, designers are going a step farther with blocking and using different materials, and this applies specifically to shelves. For example, one block of shelves may be set against a red brick backdrop, while another block of shelves may be set against a rustic wood backdrop. This helps to bring variety and accents into the room.

Considerations for your Kitchen Remodel

There are so many details and processes to consider. Honey-Doers wants to help! Give us a call at (952) 985-5383 to get started today.

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