Please Stop with the Open Shelving

I'll stick with my china cabinet, thanks.

Flowers on table in bright large kitchen
olaserGetty Images

There's one item in my apartment that seems to most surprise visitors to the space: my china cabinet. Yes, I'd imagine there's some shock that a 20-something living in New York City would dedicate so much space to storage for dinnerware (What can I say? I love my tabletop accessories), but there's also the fact that the item is such a contrast to the types of kitchens we seem to believe that millennials want: light, open spaces with tastefully sparse accoutrement. And emphasis on the "open"—trendy kitchens of today likely feature an open floor plan and open shelving (what's next, leaving all your drawers open?).

Perhaps it comes as little surprise that Google searches for the term "open shelving" have grown nearly threefold in the last 15 years, in time with the rise of minimal tabletop brands like Snowe Home and Year & Day, whose marketing promotes a breezy, clutter-free lifestyle lived in a kitchen where three floating shelves hold all you could possibly need. While I'm a fan of both brands, I have to tell you something: Open shelves are a sham.

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Let me ask you to do a little exercise. If you're home at the moment, walk into your kitchen and open up all of your shelves (if you're not in your home, try your best to imagine what that would look like). What do you see? Three evenly-spaced stacks of uniform plates, glimmering in the rays of natural sunlight streaking in through your window? Or a hodgepodge of tableware across from a precariously leaning tower of canned food, dry goods, and unopened spices? If you answered the latter, I'm sure you see my point. If you answered the former, congratulations—you're one member of the tiny percentage of the population for whom open shelving may be an option. But we're not done yet.

Luxury kitchen
Good luck keeping those glasses that clear and sparkly.
Astronaut ImagesGetty Images

Now, get your step stool and run a finger over the top of your hood. Does it come up impeccably clean? Or have you drawn a fine line of dust into the stainless steel? See, even if you're the kind of extremely-organized minimalist who owns three perfect stacks of plates and only eats dry goods in similar shades of beige from identical clear plastic canisters, your open shelving is little more than a trap for dust.

While it may look good in your Instagram shot, your open shelving, much like your monochrome kid's room is just that: a background for a photo shoot, not a setting for real life. So while you're busy stacking your plates in neat rows and dusting twice a day, I'll stick with my china cabinet, thanks.

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