A feature wall
If you have a whole wall available and no idea what to do with it, shelves are your answer! Start with an eye-catching wallpaper, paint colour or splashback - a bright yellow, striking dark blue or geometric pattern all guarantee to draw the eye in an otherwise neutral kitchen.
Shelving can help break up and add further interest to the wall design by using eye-catching materials, ornaments and out-of-the-ordinary placements. Consider fitting your shelves offset from each other, and add decorative pieces like art prints, vases or pretty crockery. Remember not to overload them though, as this will end up looking cluttered and messy.
Shelves with extra style
Shelves don’t have to be all function! Jazz up open shelves with by interspersing jars or baskets of kitchen items with decorative pieces like photos, quirky art prints or plants.
Materials matter here - these shelves should stand out, so choose a look that matches your kitchen’s style. A minimalist white laminate or glass with some underlighting will shine in a modern kitchen, while metal storage shelves have an industrial look and natural or reclaimed wood gives a rustic feel in a traditional or farmhouse kitchen.
A bottle display
If you have a collection of pretty spirit bottles, why not show them off? Buy a dedicated drinks trolley with a few levels or put up a set of small shelves, and create a proper display accessorised with glasses, garnishes and a cocktail shaker.
More of a wine lover? Swap out a shelving unit for a bottle rack that can fit anywhere! Individual bottle shelves stacked on top of each other can fit into any narrow space, or you can build a rack into the end of a kitchen island.
A corner nook
Corners are often a resource that end up going unnoticed in your kitchen, due to being hard to reach. But if they can’t be useful, they can at least be beautiful! Fit two or three short kitchen storage shelves into a corner above a counter, and use them to hold mason jars, cookbooks, and small vases of flowers.
Behind closed doors
Not all shelving has to be shown! Open shelving can be useful in a small kitchen to keep the space feeling airy but, especially in larger kitchens, most shelving stays behind closed doors (which can be a lifesaver for hiding a bit of chaos!)
If you have narrow walkways in your kitchen, there are ways to make your doors more efficient to save space. Handleless doors remove the possibility of snagging yourself on handles or knobs and are safer if you have kids running around, or you could even consider sliding doors that don’t need to open outwards into your walkway.
Divide an open-plan space
If you have an open plan living and kitchen area, a large shelving unit can act as a handy divider between the two spaces. An open unit works best, as they allow light to flow through the space as a whole without being blocked by a solid unit, and makes for an attractive display unit.
If you have a kitchen/dining space, you could even use some of the shelving compartments to store items that are regularly needed in your dining room, like bits of tableware or linens.
Shelves on a splashback
You spend plenty of time in front of your stove, and you want to have everything quick to hand! Put the space above your splashback to good use with a single shelf storing essentials like salt & pepper, oil and your favourite spices.
A water and heat resistant material like stainless steel or glass is best, so any steam from the hob doesn’t damage the underside of the shelf. You can even add a hook rail underneath the shelf to hang up small pans or cooking utensils.
In a modern home, mood lighting is a kitchen storage shelf idea with real wow factor! A striplight with a nice ambient glow adds a border effect to your shelves, illuminating upwards under a glass shelf or creating a downward glow from underneath an opaque material.
Alternatively, small spotlights can be effective to illuminate specific points on a long shelf, such as particular feature ornaments, and can double as task lighting if positioned close to the worktop.