Open Sesame! Cabinets exposed

There it was before me — my undeniable mess of “stuff” shoved in my kitchen cabinets, seemingly taunting me for my inadequacies:  Chipped bowls which didn’t match; a few nice glasses amidst cheap, neon plastic ones of the “Big Gulp” variety; and miscellaneous cake mixes and baking ingredients which mysteriously migrated from their proper place in the pantry to go slumming with my disorderly dishes.

Ah, but there was one saving grace:  Cabinet doors, which I could close at any time — lovely Doors of Denial, safeguarding my peace of mind and fooling my house guests into thinking I had it altogether. Bwah ha ha!

Kitchen243But, of course, there was a problem. There’s always a problem.  I have a small kitchen and a very open mind. My cabinet doors began to make me feel more boxed in than my free spirit demanded.  I found myself in my kitchen, late at night, wanting to tear the doors off their hinges and shout, “Be free my dishes!  Be proud of who you are (you Big Hot Mess!) and let the world embrace your uniqueness and diversity!”

Well, maybe that’s a bit too strong, but you get the picture.  I was compelled to find a way to make the Open Cabinet concept work for me, come hell or high water.


Much to my surprise, this was not an unsurpassable challenge. For me, the first realization was that I needed a compromise.  I may still need to keep the cabinet doors on some of my shelving, but I could open up a few — the select, chosen ones. The second realization was that I needed to do a bit of triage:  Get rid of the worst of the worst; keep the workable; and buy some new pieces to pull it altogether.

Additionally, as I surfed the Internet for inspiration and validation, one rule-of-thumb seemed to prevail:  Color coordination.  Whether you opt for a neutral color scheme or one with color, you need some sort of consistency and pattern so that it looks like there’s at least a method to your madness.

imageI opted for a neutral palette of white and clear dishes, intermixed with some browns and stainless steel.  Woven baskets are always a great way to collect a few things that may be too hard to display openly (e.g., I used mine to contain my small baking ingredients, which I can now pull down easily in one fell-swoop).

Most of my new items were purchased very inexpensively at Big Lots and The Dollar Tree. I’m aways amazed at the decent pieces of stoneware and glassware at rock-bottom prices at these discount or closeout stores.


spring 11 029I love the idea of using a contrasting paint color or material on the backside of the cabinets to really make the dishes and other contents pop. Here, chalkboard paint was used, which complements the black granite countertop below.  A few personal items such as plaques and photos add interest.


opencabinets2[6]If you opt for using colorful pieces, you can find plenty of ways to make them look lovely without sacrificing functionality. Glass-front cabinet doors can add a little more formality to the look but still allow your dishes to peer through. Bonus: a bit more protection against dust.

While you don’t have to use all one color, make sure the colors you choose work in harmony, as opposed to a chaotic assortment which will only make your shelves appear… well, disheveled. 🙂

Start with a small section of your kitchen (or bathroom, for that matter).  Clear your cabinets and your mind.  Add items one piece at a time, subtracting away when it begins to look too cluttered. Add a small plant… a clock… or anything else which might add some variety without transgressing to the Land of Knickknacks.  Your kitchen will look brighter, lighter, and more open.  Your cabinets will be functional pieces of art, with little to no maintenance. And you will feel like a Dish Display Diva, ready to grace the pages of Architectural Digest.

C’mon, you can do it!  Take those cabinet doors and let ‘er rip!


Photo credits:  Black cabinets – Inspiration For Decoration. White and clear dishes – Pretty Easy Living.  Chalkboard-backed open cabinets – Creatively Living Blog. Yellow dishes display – Pinterest post.






Behind the books

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the past several years is that I like a lot of variety. In fact, I’ve been accused of changing the paint colors on my walls more often than I change the oil in my car. 🙂  But one thing I’ve never painted is the interior of bookcases. We’ve all seen the style — particularly white bookcases with a contrasting interior paint color; but all that cutting in and out with a paintbrush, particularly with fixed shelving, wears me out just thinking about it!

There is a solution, however — one that is easy AND will appeal to those of us who like to “change things up” from time to time without having to spend a fortune.  Rather than paint, use wallpaper:

  • Cut cardboard to fit the dimensions of the interior back of your bookcase(s);
  • Paste, mod-podge, or use spray-adhesive to adhere a great solid or designed wallpaper or contact paper to your cardboard;
  • Push the cardboard into place; and
  • Reinsert your shelves (if they are adjustable).

Anytime you want to make a change, just re-paper!  Of course, you can always adhere the paper directly to your bookcase, but that means a little more work to replace it should you ever change your mind.

Case… or should I say “bookcase” in point 🙂 is the example below — white bookcases in my living room, with a tight grey and white patterned wallpaper.


Other examples are below — one with a yellow and white herringbone design and another with a dark polka-dotted paper against a turquoise bookcase.

polka dot wallpaper turquoise bookcase herringbone-bookcase-decorate-with-vintage-goods-as-storage-600x875








multi wallpaper bookcaseOf course, if you want to be more creative and use different types of paper for each shelving “cubby,” your results can look like the bookcase featured to the left.

This project is simple yet brings a lot of life to an interior space with minimal effort.  And when your decor changes, you can easily alter your bookcase to accommodate.

Best of all, papering rather than painting allows you to avoid the cumbersome “taping off” of all the bookcase edges and navigating a paintbrush in tight, awkward spaces.


Photo credits:  White bookcase with yellow and white herringbone paper – The 36th Avenue.  Turquoise bookcase with dark polka-dot paper – Pinterest.  White bookcase with multiple paper designs – Brabourne Farm.