Thinking about kitchen floating shelving? Wondering about the pros and cons? Looking for affordable options? Wondering how high to hang floating shelves?
During the design stage of my kitchen home improvement project, I decided I did not want any upper cabinets. I decided solely on aesthetics, hoping that my kitchen would look and feel larger by removing them. After removing the upper cabinets, and the (double) bulkhead, my wishes came true; my kitchen felt massive. I lived for several months with nothing in place of the upper cabinets but eventually decided the space felt unfinished, so I ultimately decided I wanted to try kitchen floating shelving.
Disclaimer: Please remember that I am a DIY enthusiast, not a professional. This article is for general information use and is not a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions, consult a professional! Additionally, this may contain links to affiliate websites where I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link. All opinions and recommendations are my own. I appreciate you taking my suggestions and using my links. Thank you for being so supportive!
What is Floating Shelving
If you’re wondering what floating shelving is, it’s simply a shelf where the supporting bracket is hidden. There are a few different ways to attach the shelf to the wall, but regardless of how you hang it, it is considered a floating shelf as long as you can not see the bracket. Sometimes, you may hear this being referred to as open shelving, which by definition they are not the same thing, but for purposes of my kitchen, I will use the term interchangeably. Here is how I think about it, floating shelves will almost always be open shelves, but open shelves will not always be floating. Got it?! Good, now let’s get to the good stuff!
Kitchen open shelving is definitely not for everyone since all your stuff is exposed, but being an extremely organized person, I felt like this look could work for me. For my kitchen home improvement project, the positive aspects of floating shelving far outweighed the negatives.
Benefits of Kitchen Floating Shelving
My top 3 benefits to having kitchen floating shelving are a more airer feel, the cost was significantly less than cabinets, and for my OCD organized self, they are more convenient than a cabinet.
Floating shelving visually and physically take up less space than a cabinet, so the outcome is a more airer or larger feeling space. Your area feeling bigger is beneficial if you have a small kitchen, like mine. If you have an average-sized kitchen, floating shelving is still a good option because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want their kitchen to feel larger. And for those of you that already have a large kitchen, floating shelving works as a way to provide a more visually appealing space. The floating shelves help break up the monotony of your cabinets, especially if you have a lot of cabinets in a row.
When it comes to the components of floating shelving, there is not much involved. You’ll have a shelf and the bracket. Compared to a cabinet, which has the hardware, hinges, door, and base. All the added components that come with a cabinet and the time and labor that goes into constructing these all drive the cost up. Don’t get me wrong; during my kitchen home improvement project, I did come across some hardwood floating shelves that were more expensive than a cabinet. Still, due to the simplicity of the design, there are plenty of floating shelving options out there that will cost you less than kitchen cabinets.
Kitchen floating shelving is convenient for me since I don’t have to open and close doors to access what is inside. Not dealing with cabinet doors is particularly useful in my kitchen when I am unloading the dishwasher due to my kitchen layout. If you look at my kitchen, when I have the dishwasher open, I limit my access to the upper cabinets in the corner because the dishwasher door extends into the space where I would need to stand to access the cabinet doors. What’s great about my floating shelving is I don’t have to reach for a cabinet door; I have wide-open access to the shelf, which makes grabbing and putting away dishes so much easier.
Drawbacks of Kitchen Floating Shelving
With kitchen floating shelving, there are a few potential drawbacks. As with everything in life, you balance the good with the bad and decide if there is enough good to make it worth the bad.
- Clutter: With kitchen floating shelving, all your dishes, small appliances, spices, utensils, or whatever else may be hiding in your cabinets is now on display. Exposing what is inside your cabinets can quickly look messy if you are not well organized or if your items are mismatched. Switching from an upper cabinet to open shelves will take some de-cluttering, reorganizing, and re-decorating, but it is achievable without a lot of time or money.
- Cleaning: Kitchen floating shelving requires more routine maintenance to keep clean compared to cabinets. More dusting is a guarantee. Also, a kitchen is a somewhat dirty place if you think about it. Not as bad as, say, a mudroom in the spring when you have kids or dogs, but there is a good amount of grease and splatters from cooking which will require your cleaning attention.
- Storage: Kitchen floating shelving provides less hidden storage which may or may not be a problem depending on how much stuff you have and how many other spaces you have to store the things you need but don’t want to be exposed. Too many items together will look cluttered, contributing to floating shelving providing less storage. The items you put on your kitchen floating shelving should be spaced and organized, creating a curated look.
Where Can I get Floating Shelves
If you are in the market for kitchen floating shelving, there are many options available online and locally at your hardware store. The problem I ran into was finding something:
- Within my budget
- Fulfilled both the exact dimensions and color I wanted
- Something lightweight since I did not know where the studs were on my wall
If you’ve been following along, you know I’m frugal and had a whole home renovation to complete, so like with the rest of my home improvements, I put a lot of effort into finding the best product for the least amount of money. It took me a while, but I discovered Shelf & Co at the last minute.
Side note, this is not sponsored by them; I simply love their product and want to share my sources with you!
I needed five shelves for my kitchen home improvement project, and in total, the floating shelving I went with cost me $230. Read that again; that was not a misprint or the price of one shelf. That’s $230 for five shelves, two of which are very large.
I felt like I hit the jackpot because these were super affordable, but they also had the exact color I was looking for, in the dimensions I needed, and were lightweight. I went with the vintage oak finish and it is gorgeous!
If you’re looking for real wood floating shelving, I suggest checking out JThomasHomeGoods on Etsy. If I had planned better, I would have marked the studs in my wall and felt more comfortable going with a real wood shelf, but since I did not do this, I swayed away from real wood simply because of their weight.
How To Hang Floating Shelving
When installing your kitchen floating shelving, I suggest following your shelves’ directions since your bracket may not be the same as mine. However, I have a few tips that apply to all floating shelving, regardless of the bracket type.
- You absolutely need to invest in a good tile bit if you’re drilling into tile. I admit I was a little nervous about installing these because we had to drill into tile, but with this drill bit, the entire process was quick and easy!
- Consider handing the shelves first and then tiling around them. The benefit of doing it this way is that it does not need the particular drill bit; however, this way will leave you with a few more tile cuts.
- Whichever way you decide to go, and if I were doing this kitchen home improvement project again, my best advice is to mark where the studs are before tiling, especially if you opt for a real wood shelf. Anchoring into the stud gives you more flexibility with your shelf’s weight and the number of items you can place on it.
Where Should Floating Shelves Be Placed
I suggest using painter’s tape to visualize your floating shelving layout before purchasing and installing. You can see here that I did just that. Using the painter’s tape allowed me to try different layout variations. Once I landed on this layout, I spent a few days imagining what it would look like with my shelves in these spots, and I also made sure to view the arrangement from all angles.
When determining the layout of your floating shelves, I highly recommend putting careful thought into the functionality and aesthetics. If your floating shelving is only for decor, then focus on what items you want on there and roughly how tall these will be to make sure you put enough space between your shelves. If your kitchen floating shelving is also functional, make sure you can easily access the items on your shelf before you make any holes in your wall.
How High to Hang Kitchen Floating Shelving
When determining how high to install floating shelving, I had specific small appliances and decor I wanted to fit under the shelves. To ensure these would fit, I knew the minimum my floating shelving should be a few inches higher than the tallest item I wanted to put under there.
I also knew what dishes and decor would be on each shelf, so I knew how much space to put between each shelf. Lastly, I had to be careful about the total height of my floating shelving since I am short, and these shelves are functional, which means that I needed to easily access the stuff on the top shelf without getting a step stool.
Here is how high I hung my floating shelving:
How To Decorate Kitchen Floating Shelving
My kitchen floating shelving is a mix of functional and aesthetics, so I had to get creative and find glasses and containers that were also decorative. In my post on thrift store decor, I share my best thrift store finds, thrifting tips (and secrets), and what to look for while thrifting so you, too, can decorate your home with thrift store decor! Read the full Thrift Store Decor post to see that thrifting does not mean cheap or ugly. You’ll also notice that my number one thrift store decor idea is jars and containers.
When decorating floating shelving, I used various sizes and shaped containers. I found two larger clear containers to store sugar and oats, and I found one unique white ceramic container to place between these two.
For my drinking glasses, I collected mason and Kerr glasses in various sizes. I then grouped these by their size, leaving a bit of room between each grouping.
The other decor items used on my kitchen floating shelving:
- Cutting boards in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes
- Faux plants
- Vintage books
- Small vases
Most importantly, the decor I used for my floating shelving wasn’t necessarily expensive, just selected.
You asked about kitchen floating shelving, and I delivered all the details. We covered what is floating shelving, the pros and cons of floating shelving, where to find floating shelving, how to hang floating shelves, layout of floating shelving, and how to decorate kitchen floating shelving.
I hope you feel more confident about adding kitchen floating shelving in your home now that I’ve covered all the essentials. I’m no expert, just a girl building a life I love with a passion for sharing what has worked for me.
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