The most asked questions about our mini kitchen makeover always center on the open shelves. This is the second kitchen we’ve gone with shelves instead of upper cabinets and I’m certain we’ll do it again when we do a full remodel. They function so well for us, we love the casual look and it gives me a place to style dishes, cake plates, baskets, glassware and plants to make the kitchen look lived-in and cozy.
In our previous kitchen, we used brackets and shelves from IKEA and were very happy with how they looked and how sturdy they were. If you need a refresher, here is what that pretty mostly white kitchen looked like.
This house has a whole different feel and when updating the kitchen we decided to try a new look for us. Our long-term plan is to open up a wall, add more windows and reorient the kitchen to allow for a larger island and focal point range. In the meantime, we did a quick makeover knowing that we had to work with the existing gray tile floors, granite tile counters and lower cabinets. By removing the heavy uppers, it brought so much lightness and openness to the whole space. But, of course, losing all of that storage wouldn’t really function well, so we opted for four sections of open shelves (see the kitchen before + after here and a more recent follow-up post here).
Once we painted the lower cabinets a dark gray (Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams), we loved the idea of bringing warmth into the kitchen with natural wood shelves.
What I really wanted were very minimal, thick floating wood shelves. But I wanted them at a reasonable price (aka inexpensive) and sturdy enough to hold lots of weight and we just were not able to find a solution that worked.
So instead, we found thick reclaimed cedar boards from our local salvage yard and the most minimal brackets we could find.
Now, just to be fair, the wood was not exactly cheap. We could have gone much less expensive with pine boards from the lumber yard, but it felt special to use a nice wood and worth the little extra splurge (although definitely not as expensive as solid floating wood shelves would have been).
We searched and searched for every bracket option we could find. Remember, I wanted very minimal. So while there are countless great bracket options, most were more decorative than I was going for. Looking back, it sure would have made it so much easier if I would have just gone with something mass market :)
Thankfully, Ryan obliged his picky wife and came up with this solution (after a few different tries and fails).
These simple heavy-duty stainless steel angle brackets were our perfect, affordable solution.
Ryan securely screwed the brackets into studs with heavy-duty screws to make sure they were going to hold the shelves and contents.
On the long shelf that holds all of our everyday dishes (see below), he also added screws from the side panel of the cabinet that sits next to the fridge into the side of the shelf. This gave these shelves the extra support they needed without having to put an additional bracket in the center of the shelves (which I didn’t want because remember: very minimal).
The other sets of shelves that flank either side of the windows and sit over the desk area are smaller in both length and depth (9″ deep versus the dish shelves are 11″ deep) so just two brackets screwed into studs work fine to hold them.
The wood we chose is not the heaviest of all woods, but the solid thickness of 1.5″ keeps them from sagging in the center.
Even though we did not get floating shelves exactly, the brackets we ended up using almost disappear against the wall and give us sturdy shelves that can handle the weight of stacked dishes, glassware and serving pieces.
If you are on the hunt for shelf brackets, perhaps the angle brackets we used will work for you, but also don’t forget to look at the selection at World Market, Anthropologie, Rejuvenation and House Of Antique Hardware.
Let me know if you have any other questions about the shelves. I’m happy to answer!