Tips for Organizing Your Open Shelves This Spring

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

It seems these days many people are deciding against upper cabinets in their kitchen and instead choosing open shelves. It seems like a brilliant idea when you see the images on Pinterest and Instagram of perfectly curated and color coordinated shelves. I have to admit I have fallen pray to these images with the idea mine would naturally just look like those images without much work. What I have found while renting our friend’s adorable farmhouse is that it is quite the opposite. The shelves have a tendency to collect everything and after a few months, they are dusty, have some residual oil from cooking, and have been layered with arbitrary items that may or may not be regularly used. I will also tell you that in our new kitchen in our house we will also have our own open shelves, so I figured, now is the time to learn how to care for them properly. I have learned that though it takes intention and focus to keep the shelves clean and looking Instagram ready, it pays off for my “I love everything to have its place” self. I love how it feels to walk into our kitchen with things not only put in their place, but at the ready to cook and entertain with ease. Today, I am going to share with you how to get your shelves organized and ready for spring so you can enjoy them more and feel they serve you well.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

A few summers back we rented a friend’s house in downtown Traverse City, she is a cook and runs a catering company. Her and her business partner (also a chef) had done the work on her kitchen themselves and they had done open shelving in her kitchen. I was completely impressed with how well the kitchen function. You literally could stand at the dishwasher and take maybe 5-10 steps the whole time you put dishes away. I had never experienced anything like it and since then I fell in love with the function of great open shelves. I always hated in our Raleigh house how inaccessible our dishes felt from the flow of our entertaining even on open shelves. It made me realize how wonderful it is to easily grab dishes that you use regularly in the flow of cooking and entertaining without thinking. I am getting ahead of myself, though. Let me get down to how you can make your shelves pretty and functional this spring.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

First of all, so you have reference of our reality, this is where we began with our shelves before doing the shoot. It was a hodge-podge of things I use every day for a smoothie, fresh fruit, and things that needed to be put up. I show all of this because I want you to know our shelves probably started similarly to your shelves. Really when I looked at the shelves, I just noticed we needed to create cohesion, purpose, and to put up things better that either we didn’t need every day or if they were needed they would be easily accessible. So, let’s get going on fixing these up, shall we?

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Remove EVERYTHING from your shelves:
Take down everything on your shelves and I even removed everything under the shelves because I wanted a clean slate to work with. Many times when we leave things it is a chance to not rewrite what could be because we feel defined by the one item left lingering. Starting new opens up every possibility.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

As I went through removing things, I put away the non-essential items or the items that had been cluttering everything else. It happens but it helps if you can be aware of your life and your routines in your kitchen so you can choose things that you ACTUALLY use every day. I tucked everything else away, which also resulted in me making space in other cabinets and reorganizing a few spaces.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Clean the shelves:
If your shelves are near your stove you most likely have oil from cooking building up on them. This is a great time to clean that off and dust everything. It is shocking what can build up over even a few weeks or months. This is a great opportunity to give everything a great wipe down.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Remove everything from the space:
Like I said above, you want to create a completely clean slate to start with. Move even the things you are going to keep out of the way so you have a 100% clear space to start with.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Sort items by essentials and great accents:
Now you can start placing your everyday use items on the counter under the shelves so you can see what needs to be on the shelf and what doesn’t. If you have oils and other food items that need to be accessible every day, place them in containers that are minimal and simple or even remove a label that doesn’t compliment the aesthetic. I love glass containers and anything white and wood. It is what matches our aesthetic, but choose things that match your aesthetic. I also chose a few things to help with layering in the space. I added in my favorite indoor watering can I use every day for household watering and some books I find inspiring for cooking.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Now the fun begins…Time to place everything:
This is the best part in my opinion. I love organizing things, ha. The trick here is to place everyday use items at arms reach so you never have to climb up to get anything you use often. So I suggest plates, mugs/glassware, bowls, and spices to be placed on a bottom shelf. The next shelf up I focused on serving pieces and vases and some favorite cookbooks. Then the top I placed some large items that aren’t used often but are hard to store other places. They are in a consistent color and material theme so they connect everything else but also blend in so your eye isn’t drawn too much to them.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Find great layering items:
Creating varying heights and directions things go will help move your eye around your shelves. I love using cookbooks either lying down or standing up to contrast the rest of the kitchen items. Adding in items such as dried blooms and herbs will create contrast as well on your shelves. I loved how our watering can and a few other items also added in some lifestyle to the shelves on top of the typical kitchen items.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Lastly, remember everything doesn’t have to be the same, but…
Not everything on our shelves is from the same collection of bowls or mugs, but what is consistent on the shelves are colors and materials. Find some level of consistency to your kitchen items. We keep very neutral colors because I love how they transition through seasons and I like things to be minimal. I find a neutral palette is easiest to work with. Plus, most items you place in glass containers are neutral as well so they add to the palette as well.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

So far, the shelves have stayed clean and put together and it brings my brain so much peace these days as well as a wonderful sense that spring has arrived. There is something about doing simple organizing tasks this time of year that bring about that sense of renewed energy.

Open shelves can be a real hassle, but here are tips to help make them clean and easy to pull together and keep well styled. Get all the tips on The Fresh Exchange

Tell me what tips do you have for organizing your shelves? What works best for you? Anything you learned or anything you are struggling with?

Tomorrow, we will be sharing about our experience of choosing a contractor. We have a few things we learned through the process we want to share as well as our experience finding the right builder for us. As always the best way to not miss a post is to sign up for our newsletter. See you tomorrow!

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  1. I love opeN shelving, but do worry about its trendiNEss. In College my aPartment had a wall of cab between the dining room and kitchen that had glass doors into each room, with drawers below that pulled each way. It was genius! Close to the dishwasher on the Kitchen siDe, and easy to grab an extra plate for aNy stragglers at dinner. Its a design feature that will definitely be repliCated in my future home.