Storage Wars: Open Shelves vs. Cabinets

When you’re having a hard time deciding between displaying your stuff on open shelving or keeping everything behind closed cabinet doors, whip out this pros and cons list to help you choose.

Updated on June 09, 2017 9:06 am

Camille Besinga

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Open Shelves

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Pros
• Since everything is on display, you are forced to edit your stuff—which can help you get rid of all those things you’ve been keeping for years.

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• You can easily take stock of what you have, and have them within reach every time.

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• Your shelf display easily becomes an intrinsic part of the design of the room.

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• You can use it to divide rooms but without blocking out much-needed light.

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• You can turn almost any space with, well, space, into open shelves — even stair steps.

Cons
• This won’t be easy to do if you’re naturally a clutter bug or a pack rat.
• Things accumulate over time, and editing more often than you’re used to can get tiring.
• Dust will settle on your things, which may or may not force you to go through them every couple days or so with a feather duster.
• Not recommended if you have pets, particularly cats! Unless you’re fine with screwing or hot-gluing all the items on display on to the shelf…

Cabinets

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Pros
• Cabinets keep all your things (read: clutter) neatly hidden away from sight.
• While dust may still settle on your things, it won’t be as imperative to clean all the items in your cabinets as much as those on open shelves.

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• You can turn almost any space with, well, space, into cabinets — even stair steps.

Cons
• Since everything’s just hidden behind closed cabinet doors, there’s a big chance you may forget what’s even in the cabinets. Hence, “lost” stuff.
• They’re more expensive and more time-consuming to build and install than open shelving.
• With cabinets, things tend to accumulate exponentially, without your even noticing it.

Cover photo courtesy of HGTV

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