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Wall Units, Shelves or Nothing: Which is Best for Your Kitchen?

Do you need wall storage in your kitchen? If so, which kind? Here are some things to consider

Houzz UK Editorial Staff. I’m a freelance journalist with more than 13 years’ experience… More

Cabinets aren’t the only solution for your kitchen walls. You could add character with open shelving, or leave the space blank for an airy feel. Here’s a rundown of the pros for each choice, and a few tips for overcoming the cons.

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Wall Cabinets

Banish kitchen clutter

You know where you are with a standard wall unit. Everything gets stacked inside, you can close the door and instantly the kitchen looks tidy. If you want a simple way to keep your cookspace neat and uncluttered, wall cupboards are the way to go.

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Lose the handles for a sleek look
For a streamlined style, wall cabinets are ideal. The glossy, handleless units here look sleek in this contemporary kitchen. The line of white wall cupboards forms a striking contrast to the black recess below.

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Lighten up with glazed doors
A wall of cabinets can feel quite heavy and could make the room appear smaller. Break up the area by including some glass-fronted units. Glazed doors will create the illusion of space while still providing cabinet storage.

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Add interest around your units
It’s difficult to inject personality into a room that’s full of cupboards. Solve this by including other interesting features in the space. Here, the tiled splashback provides a bold feature in an otherwise minimal kitchen.

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Vary your colours
If your kitchen is full of cupboards and drawers, it might feel as if the space is filled with the same colour. Combat this by adding another shade into the mix. Here, a purple island prevents the blue from overpowering the room.

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Open Shelves

Boost your kitchen’s character
A wall of shelves can look fantastic in your cookspace. It’s a great way to add character to the room. The copper, coral and white objects on these rustic shelves look stunning against the dark walls.

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Keep the space airy
Open shelves will make your kitchen feel lighter and more spacious. This narrow room could have appeared smaller with a row of wall cabinets. The long shelves don’t encroach on the space, and instead help to open it out.

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Style wisely for a tidy look
Cabinets can hide all manner of untidiness inside, while open shelving will have everything on display. If you’re worried about keeping the area tidy, only include similar objects on your shelves. They’ll look neat when arranged together and create a feeling of order.

Discover inspiring ways to style your kitchen shelves

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Decant to deter dust
Open shelves can attract dust and grease, so if this is a concern, avoid displaying tableware. Instead, use the area for dry ingredients. Put everything in easy-to-wipe-down jars and canisters to keep it grime-free and looking lovely.

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Blank Walls

Pare back
It’s becoming increasingly popular to forgo wall storage entirely. Kitchens like this one are fitted with just a row of base units and nothing on top. It looks light and airy and gives a feeling of space and movement.

Find ideas for brightening a dark kitchen

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Exploit a simple backdrop
The exclusion of wall furniture here has allowed the owners to display some artwork instead. The plain wall also provides a clean backdrop against which the pendant lights can shine.

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Choose alternatives to paint
If you fancy something more interesting than a painted wall, hunt out alternative surfaces. The wood panelling here provides a wipe-clean area and adds character to the space.

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Highlight raw materials
In a room with architectural features on show, it’s a good idea to leave the walls clear. The exposed stone in this kitchen looks stunning and it would have been a shame to cover it with cabinets or shelves. If your walls have some interesting elements on them, consider leaving them blank to give your room more character.

Do you prefer wall units, open shelves or blank space? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments below.
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