Mowlem & Co: Open shelving is making a comeback in the contemporary kitchen

The revival of open shelving in kitchen design has its roots in both functional and aesthetic demands. An honoured tradition in the classic ‘working’ kitchen – from stately homes to humble cottages – they have an enduring practical appeal (for those who don’t mind a little extra cleaning) but they’ve also found new life as an elegant decorative feature, especially in open plan schemes.

For the convenience of reaching for a favourite cookbook (and as a great way to maximise corner space) there’s the simple solution of fitting a set of deep and high shelves instead of another wall cabinet. For those who need instant access to their most used kit, however, lengthy runs above a prep, serving or cooking zone would be the ideal solution, especially if ‘busyness’ does not offend.

Alternatively, shelving can be a creative way to display cherished ornaments or ‘special occasion’ table and glassware. This might make use of bespoke housing around built-in appliances, the space between windows and doors, or in specially created alcoves that maximise a high ceiling. To turn open-shelving into an unashamedly eye-catching feature, luxe finishes can add that vital touch of glamour.

Apart from the aesthetics of working harmoniously with the rest of your kitchen design, the durability of the material will be a consideration. If they’re going to be hard working surfaces, with pots and pans, or oils and spices being reached for with regularity, then a robust, wipe clean finish will be essential. If shelves are more about display, then one can consider making a glossy accent feature out of them, or alternatively having them blend beautifully into, perhaps, an all-white, hand-painted colour scheme. 

For the ultra contemporary look, perhaps a floating appearance, or the industrial style of metallic fittings? Other considerations include whether shelves will be boxed in or open-ended? Fixed in configuration or adaptable? Spot-lit to stand out or under-lit as a source of task lighting for the surfaces below? Perhaps even internally lit through a translucent material for that aforementioned ‘glamour’ effect?

Experienced kitchen designers can help answer all such quandaries, running through the various potential solutions and advising on the most appropriate design for the overall scheme and the objects to be placed there. 

So, to open-shelf or not to open-shelf? Actually, one can have the best of both worlds: striking open shelving with a pop of colour that is hidden behind pocket or sliding doors – which can be open when needed or neatly closed when an uncluttered look is preferred.

Whatever the choice, working with Mowlem & Co, award-winning experts in bespoke design and manufacture, will be the smoothest path to getting this feature exactly right for any property, project or day-to-day lifestyle.  www.mowlemandco.com








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