How to Replace Kitchen Cabinets With Open Shelving

3 Materials
5 Days

Why Open Shelving Isn’t Always Popular

People tend to have strong feelings about open shelving, and I get it. It looks amazing but is it practical? I guess it could be if you are a minimalist, but most of us have too much stuff that we prefer not to put on display.

If you have kids, you probably also have a neverending supply of plastic cups and bowls. My kids are grown, and I still have those around! Closed cabinets may not be as pretty, but they hide the necessary clutter.

Additionally, open shelving collects dust and dirt more easily than closed cabinets. Are you willing to add more regular wiping and dusting to your cleaning routine?

My solution to these problems? Why not try to have the best of both worlds! I only removed a small section of the upper cabinets. A unit that didn’t make sense to me anyway. It wasn’t essential storage, and my new open shelves will be purely decorative.

This is how it looked before I removed the small section of upper cabinets. At this stage, all the remaining cabinets were already painted.

Here you can see the bare wall where the cabinets used to be, next to the window.

DIY Open Shelving

In my previous post, Decorating the Basement, I showed how I gave this dry bar area a mini makeover. I repurposed the wood from these floating shelves for the open shelving. I sanded all pieces back to bare wood and cut them to size.

It took me forever to decide if I wanted to paint or stain the open shelving. I decided to stain the wood because it can easily be painted later, but not the other way around.

Staining the individual pieces of wood is easier than staining the completed project.

I used Dixie Belle’s water-based Voodoo Gel Stain in color Au Natural and sealed everything with a clear coat sealer.

The stain opened up the woodgrain leaving all the stain pieces rough and prickly. One light sanding with fine sandpaper, and you will have the softest, smoothest surface ever.

This one easy step that makes stained or painted wood super smooth after being so rough is one of the most satisfying things ever!

Installing Open Shelving

The wooden brackets have these metal pieces to hook over two wall screws. I had to measure carefully to hang each bracket securely, straight, and level. I used heavy-duty drywall plugs with the screws.

The two brackets from the bottom shelf fit halfway over the backsplash tiles, and I had to get creative to ensure a perfect flush fit. I cut a small groove in each bracket to fit over the metal strip that isn’t flush with the tiles (as it’s supposed to be).

Above those grooves, I built up the brackets with small pieces of wood to ensure they fit flush with the tiles AND the wall. This step caused a lot of headaches!

Each shelving “unit” consists of two wooden brackets with a 4-inch back piece between them. These are the support pieces. The shelf itself is two pieces of wood I joined together to form a one-and-a-half-inch think shelf. I framed an edge around each shelf to make it look like one solid piece of wood.

Each bracket hangs from two screws, and each back piece is secured to the wall with two screws.

I used two screws on each side, driven in from the top, to attach the shelf to each bracket. The back of the shelf is also screwed to the back piece in three places.

These shelves are so sturdy and secure, even I am surprised!

I added five wooden pegs to the bottom shelf’s back piece, and now we also have a peg rail!

Once all the pieces were joined, I filled the screw holes and added a bit of wood filler to all the seams. A quick touch-up with the wood stain and sealer and the shelves are all done!

Shelf styling

I can’t even begin to describe how much fun it was to style and decorate these shelves. For almost two years, I had dreamt of this moment. Collecting a few special pieces, especially for this display.

Every time I walk into the kitchen, I can’t help but smile. This project was full of hiccups and way more difficult than I imagined, but oh so worth it! I love the look it gives the kitchen.

I am one step closer to my dream of a cottage kitchen! These shelves definitely look the part.

My budget-friendly kitchen makeover is almost complete. Please subscribe to my newsletter on the blog, Home with Marieza, to not miss out on the complete reveal.

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3 of 7 comments
  • Patsy47 Patsy47 on Jul 05, 2022

    lovely look for sure but...i REALLY love the color of your cabinets! THAT alone would make me smile every time i walked into my kitchen...😁 !!!!

    • Jeannine Jeannine on Jul 05, 2022

      I was curious if the cabinets are another project lol

  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Jul 05, 2022

    The pegs on the bottom shelf is really a great idea, and the beautiful color of your cabinets 🙀🙀🙀