DIY open kitchen shelves
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DIY kitchen shelves are much easier to install than you might think, and they can add a ton of functionality and style to your space.

Building or installing premade shelves from floor to ceiling (or in whatever available area you have) is a great way to open up space in your kitchen and give it a fresh look, adding an architectural element in addition to extra storage. We broke up the space using different-length shelves (see our finished project below), but you can keep it all one length if you prefer.

When you’re done, vintage measuring cups and colored bowls that have been hidden can now double as decoration, and your cookbook collection can expand a little more. We’ll give you some ideas on keeping it organized too.

 What You Need to Install Kitchen Shelves:

  • Shelves with brackets for mounting (we used shelves and brackets from IKEA)
  • 4 wood screws or wall anchors per shelf (check with your local hardware store to find out what type of anchor works best with your wall)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Level

 How to Install Kitchen Shelves:

1. Measure the wall from floor to ceiling.

2. Divide the space by the number of shelves you have, and measure and mark where you want each shelf to hang. Take one bracket per shelf (say, the left-hand side), and align each one with the marks you made. Make dots where the screws of the left-hand brackets will go.

3. With your stud finder, check to see if there are wooden studs behind your pencil marks. If there are, you can use a simple wood screw to attach the brackets: Drill a slightly smaller hole than the size of your screw. If there is no wood (there wasn’t in our wall), install wall anchors to attach each bracket.

4. Attach your left-hand brackets to the wall. Temporarily slip your shelves into the brackets, and lay a level on each shelf to ensure it’s straight. Mark where the right-hand brackets need to go. Slip the shelves off again for the time being.

5. Drill holes for the right-hand brackets. Slip the shelves back into the left-hand brackets, then into the unmounted right-hand brackets. Screw the right-hand brackets into the wall.

See these helpful open kitchen shelving tips before you start, try this handy hack for keeping things level, and check out more shelf hanging tips and advice too.

Now, Get Organized

DIY kitchen shelves


In addition to displaying your prettiest cookware and favorite cookbooks (stack them vertically to save space), you can make your shelves more functional in several ways:

We scored mesh bins from The Container Store to create a recycling area on the bottom shelf, for instance, and bought a vertical letter organizer as a more convenient way to hold baking sheets. (Thanks to the Chowhounds who gave us this tip!)

The vertical organizer is also a great way to corral pot lids and cutting boards.

Marble and Gold Maxwell Letter Holder, $24.99 from World Market

If you want to get a little fancier than plain metal or plastic.
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You can also buy opaque storage boxes to stash things you’d rather not have on display but can’t fit in a cupboard.

White Taper Storage Bin with Handles, $6.99 from The Container Store

These hide the contents and are easy to clean.
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Mocha Water Hyacinth Storage Bin with Handles, $7.99 from The Container Store

Woven ones are handy for holding certain pantry staples and snacks.
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Consider adding cup hooks if you want to hang your dish towel, mugs, or other lightweight items from a shelf (just be sure to leave enough clearance when you’re planning your layout).

Under Cabinet Mug Hook Racks, 4 for $16.99 from Amazon

Screw these into the bottom of your shelf for additional storage.
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If you still use printed recipes, for a homespun touch, string a length of twine or picture wire between two brackets and use mini clothespins to hold your paper.

Add some plants if you want, but keep spices and oils in the pantry (or another enclosed space away from heat and light, since that makes that go bad faster).

More Inspiration

7 Photos to Make You Love Open Kitchen Shelves

Header image courtesy of Dane Deaner / Unsplash

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