Open Storage in the Kitchen

The idea of open storage in the kitchen is one that doesn’t appeal to a whole lot of people. After all, the average person seems to prefer to have things stored behind closed doors.

The reason most people usually prefer to store kitchen items behind closed doors is twofold:

  1. To hide them, and
  2. To keep them as clean as possible.

If you decide to display pots and pans, for example, or even spices, they will inevitably get dusty and you (or someone else) will have to clean them on a regular basis, before you can use them again. This is what puts most people off.

But there are advantages to storing items within view.

  • The best is that you can see them – but this means that they need to be worth looking at.
  • The other is that they are easy to access. For example, if you have an open spice rack, you can grab what you need without having to open cupboards and scrabble about looking for ingredients. If you have a rack where you can hang implements close to your hob or oven, you don’t have to look for them when you want to stir a pot or turn food in the pan.
  • Lastly, storing items in the open cuts down on cupboard space. So if you don’t have enough storage space, consider what you can display.

There are different ways to display kitchen items that would otherwise be stored in a cupboard or drawer. One of the most effective is in the form of collections, or as a grouping. Take herbs and spices as an example. Whether you decant them into attractive jars or nicely shaped glass bottles, or keep them in the bottles in which they were supplied, by arranging them neatly together on a narrow shelf or on a spice rack of some kind, you have an instant display that doubles up as storage. Many spices are supplied in packets, so do decant these, but make sure you keep them in tight fitting containers to extend their shelf life to the maximum. You can use a similar approach for home-made jams and pickles, as well as items like dried pulses – lentils, peas and beans – or different types, shapes and colors of dried pasta.

Tea, coffee, sugar and similar items used for hot beverages can also be decanted into tins or bottles and displayed together on a convenient shelf or even on a counter top near to where you keep your kettle.

If you like the idea of collections, these can be decorative (for example old knick knacks and accessories) as well as useful, new knick knacks and accessories that you use on a daily basis – from tin openers to graters, peelers and gadgets for chopping. If these items can be hung up, you can use a rack of some type, or even use big brass hooks screwed into the wall. Imagine a collection of good-looking pots, pans and other utensils hung up as a backdrop instead of pictures.

Pots and pans can also be hung above a stove or hob, on a metal rack. If you have some basic welding skills and access to the necessary equipment, this is an item that is not difficult to make. You can hang it from the ceiling using chains attached to the rack itself, and then use butcher-type hooks to hang up the pots and pans. Alternatively fix a wooden beam either above or near to the cooker and screw hooks into this. Both copper pots and stainless steel look great displayed in this way.

Items like mashers, serving spoons, spatulas and wooden mixing spoons can be stored in an open container like a large stoneware pot. Knives are often sold with their own stands, largely to prevent them becoming blunt, and unless you have a phobia about storing knives in the open, they can look quite decorative too.

If you have shelving that can accommodate wicker baskets, you can use these to store all kinds of things, from fruit and vegetables to gadgets and utensils. If made to fit the space snugly, you can use regular shaped baskets on shelves in place of ordinary drawers. They always look attractive and add character to the room.

Collectible items like old tins are ideal for open storage in the kitchen. You can use them for just about anything that is packaged in plain packets or boxes that need to be kept airtight. Usually it’s best to keep the ingredients in the original packaging, because the inside of old tins is usually not particularly hygienic. Alternatively you may be able to clean and seal the insides of tins to make them “safe”.

Not many people think about storing plates in the open, but a good looking plate rack offers the opportunity to display attractive plates, neatly stacked and ready to use. While molded plastic and plastic-covered wire drainers are undoubtedly hygienic (simply because they are easy to clean), they aren’t wildly attractive. So if you’re going the open-to-view route, consider using a wooden rack above your sink instead of the plastic variety. Newly washed plates can then stay in the rack until ready for use again.

Coffee mugs are another item that can be openly displayed. Mug holders and racks come in various guises, including those that stand and those that are made for hanging up. An attractive version that will appeal to those who enjoy a country or cottage look, has hooks set into a polished slab of exotic wood. But make sure your mugs are attractive too, and avoid hanging chipped and cracked items in the open. That will spoil the whole effect.

Wine can also be displayed in the kitchen, as can glasses, although you will probably find yourself having to rinse glasses before you can use them. Also, if you decide to have a wine rack in the kitchen, keep it away from the cooking area, with its changing temperatures. Remember that wine is best stored at a constant temperature.

A popular approach when designing a kitchen on a budget is to use freestanding furniture for storage instead of built-in cupboards and cabinets. An ordinary bookcase can double as a home for recipe books and beverage tins, perhaps with cast iron scales, ginger jars, or pots of herbs on the top shelf. Old wooden dressers are ideal for open storage in the kitchen because they have shelves and sometimes glass fronted sections which are perfect for displaying plates, jars and other items that really shouldn’t be hidden behind closed doors.

So if you’re planning a new approach, considering opening up instead of closing up.