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How to install open concept shelving

Last modified: 2020-01-09 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Planning out the layout, decor and surfaces of your home for your family's needs and wants can be tricky. Especially in busier rooms of the house, like the kitchen or the bathroom, it can be a challenge to keep things neat, tidy and practical while allowing things to look good.

This is especially true when it comes to choosing shelves for these rooms. Open concept shelving is just one of the ways that you can explore the balance between functionality and style. So, how do you install them in your house?

If you’ve decided to do away with traditional cabinets with doors and have decided that open concept shelving is right for your home, then you’ve come to the right place! We’re here to offer the step-by-step instructions to install open concept shelves.

Here’s how to install open concept shelving!

A little bit about working with open concept shelving

Open concept shelf

Open concept shelving is widely used as a modern kitchen feature, a beautiful way to showcase dishware or other unique items. This style of shelving offers a wide variety of storage and organizational options, especially if you’re looking for everything to be out in the open. Of course, the key to working with open concept shelving is to keep things as organized as possible.

Some homeowners may find this challenging and will end up with a cluttered mess that is fully visible to family and guests. Thus, it’s important to adhere to some of the best practices when it comes to organizing your open concept shelving. If you already have cabinets in place and want a way to ease into this project, consider removing the doors and seeing how they feel for the layout of your kitchen.

This is a great way to approach the project at no cost. If you’re not into the way it looks, then it’s likely that open concept shelving isn’t right for you. In this case, you can always put the doors back on the hinges.

open shelving in a kitchen

The point of open concept shelving is to make kitchenware feel more accessible. Of course, you’re going to want to display your most prized ceramics, but remember to keep dishes that you use frequently on the lower shelves or within arms reach. For heavier pieces that won’t actually be used for cooking, it’s important to secure them in place so that they don’t accidentally fall and break or injure a loved one.

These are just a few pointers when it comes to styling open concept shelving. If you’re looking for more detailed information, we’d suggest checking out our article: Open concept shelving: 6 things to know.

Although we’re going to go over the installation process for a kitchen, these instructions can be applied to any room of the home including the bathroom, laundry room or even the bedroom. Here are our step-by-step instructions for installing open concept shelves.

Open shelf kitchen

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How to install open concept shelving

1- Gather materials

First, you’ll need to consider all of the materials required for this project but of course, the most important of all will be the material you choose for the shelf itself. This will come down to your current home decor style as well as the budget you’ve set aside for this project. You can purchase a basic lumber or wood and stain it to your taste, or purchased finished pieces of wood that come pre-stained and treated.

Other obvious material needs will be the brackets which you set up the shelving on, as well as drill bits to secure them in place. A final note is to make sure you buy the correctly sized bracket to hold up the shelves.  A full material list is as follows:

  • Shelves;
  • Brackets;
  • Stain;
  • Drywall anchors (if needed);
  • Drill bits;
  • Level;
  • Measuring tape.


2- Measure, cut & finish shelves

Depending on where you purchase shelving material, you may need to cut them to desired lengths yourself. However, more often than not a hardware store will be able to cut them for you. Of course, before heading out to buy all the material, you will need to measure. Start by measuring the area where you’ll be placing the shelves, as well as the space you’ll need between them. The space needed on your shelves will directly relate to what you plan to stack on them, so be precise! You don’t want to have to do this job twice.

If cutting the shelves yourself, the same rules apply. Take precise measurements and use a table saw if available. Make sure to sand down the shelves following this, and before staining. Shelves should be completely smooth before placing any product on top of them. Stain the shelves as to your personal taste and make sure to finish the job with some poly to keep everything sealed in nicely. Give these enough time to dry, and while that's happening move onto the next step. 

3- Fasten brackets & attach shelves!

Kitchen shelves

If your brackets are finished and ready to go, excellent! If not, finish them in your desired colour using spray paint or stain. Again, as dependant on the material. Also, not all brackets come with screws, so make sure to purchase these separately if necessary. Once complete, begin by measuring where your brackets will be placed along the wall. It’s easiest to first mark the middle bracket and then measure out from the center for the 2 edge brackets.

Once you’ve finished marking, drill into the wall. The drill bit you choose will be dependant on the material of your wall. If working on a tile wall, we’d suggest starting out with a chisel and hammer, as to avoid breaking the tile. Now, drill all the way through the wall, and then screw the bracket in place. When shelves finally dry, they can be placed on and secured to the brackets.

Once installed, even if the shelves look level, we’d still suggest using a level to be completely sure. You wouldn’t want some family china finding its way to the floor. For shelves that will only be holding decorative items, you may not require an under-shelf screw between it and the bracket. However, for shelves that are frequently used, it will be necessary.

Get 3 renovation quotes for your kitchen cabinet updating project can help you get quotes for your cabinet installation. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals.

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