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Pretty and Practical

The art of displaying things is perhaps the most important skill in interior design. Which things deserve a spotlight in our homes? Which should be hidden? Part of a designer's job is to determine function in addition to beauty, so deciding where cabinetry should be to hide away things we don't want to see each day--i.e. toys, games, unsightly kitchen wares, small appliances and cookware, food--is of utmost importance. Once its been decided what should be unseen, then we must decide how to best display those things which are aesthetically pleasing and bring us joy. These things are different for every person and every home. One mom may want her children's art on parade above the family couch; another may wish to have them up in a more discreet spot, such as a craft- or playroom or a hallway. Some want their dishes and glassware fully displayed; some don't want them seen at all. Many want a little something in between. Last week we looked at various ways to display things on your walls; this week, let's talk about how to openly display things in your kitchen/dining area.


Something I hear a lot from clients is "I LOVE open shelving in a kitchen, but I'm scared it won't be enough storage or my things aren't pretty enough to display." I understand the hesitation, as I felt the same when deciding on them for my own kitchen. But here are two important things to remember: 1. You don't have to fully commit to the open displays--even one or two shelves can make a HUGE design impact and 2. If the things you currently have won't work for display, you can buy new things that WILL work and those things do NOT have to break the bank! Let's look at my own kitchen shelves for examples of this latter point:

The scales are from thrift stores, about $20 each. Same with the pitchers, but I don't think any of them were more than $10. The wood bowls are all from garage sales, typically about $10 per set. The black, white, and glass bowls are all from the Dollar Tree! The green plastic bowls (I have the plates, cups, and bigger bowls, too) are from Target at--WAIT FOR IT--seventy five cents each!! Sometimes they even go on sale for FIFTY CENTS and there are many beautiful colors to choose from! And here's the best part--I use all of these things all the time! What you put on your open shelves does not have to be things too precious to use! Make them functional AND beautiful. Typically sticking with one color palette works best--I like to stick with neutrals, except for my little venture into the world of color with the green. There are so many types of open shelves and so many possible things to place on them and it can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to lessen this stress:


  1. Stick with simple. Too much color or pattern on open shelving can feel overwhelming. If you've got one or two great colorful pieces that you're absolutely intent on displaying, pair it with other neutral pieces to help tone it down.

  2. Change things up by adding in unexpected pieces, such as art, plants, or books. These things make our homes feel more lived-in and loved and they have a place in our kitchens.

  3. Wood shelving goes with almost any kitchen decor. Pottery barn offers great prefabricated options, but for a more rustic look, have your contractor or handy friend build you some from old wood. Just make sure it is properly sealed for easy cleaning.

  4. Don't forget about these places to find dishes and other kitchen wares CHEAP: Goodwill, garage and estate sales, thrift and antique stores, Target, and Walmart.

  5. Don't get frustrated if your styling doesn't sit well with you at first. Keep playing with the arrangement until it feels right. Change it up often. If you get too frustrated, talk to a designer. Many designers offer an hourly styling rate that is perfect for this type of project--two or three hours and I promise you'll have an arrangement or plan you love!

Open shelves definitely aren't for every kitchen or every client, but I must say every time I see a well-done kitchen I love, it usually incorporates some form of open-display space. They give a kitchen a cozy and curated look that upper cabinets just can't emulate. Our hearts are happiest when surrounded by things that spark joy and our kitchens are often where we spend most of our time in our homes, so why not fill them with things that are both pretty and practical? If you are up for the challenge but need a little help, I'd love to show you how!

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Redfin Feature

Check out my latest design feature via Redfin! https://www.redfin.com/blog/neutral-home-decor-tips/ The article talks about using creams and beiges in design and I'm excited to be a part of it!

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