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Our kitchen was full of nigglies. (Is that a word anyone else uses? Or did I channel Luna Lovegood and make that one up?) It’s likely the latter, so I’ll define it: a niggly is a bothersome thing. A small one, mind you, but a persistent one. Like a single mosquito at your picnic.
Our kitchen had way more than one niggly. Think: two dozen mosquitos in your tent buzzing around your ears while you’re trying to sleep.
We have two sections of upper cabinets in our kitchen. The section over our stove was neutral. It functioned fine enough. And this space rarely bothered me – it is really only visible when you come up the stairs from the basement or backyard.
The section over our counter space bothered me plenty.
Not only did it holler 1990’s, but there was also the enormous microwave shelf that stuck out so far that you couldn’t actually use the counter below it. In our small kitchen, this was a really big deal: 1/3 of our counter space was unusable.
Also, this giant microwave shelf attracted clutter like white pet hair on black pants.
Yep. This area was ugly.
Plus, this section of uppers is visible from our entire main floor. When we added our second storey we blew out tons of walls making the main floor open concept.
There was no unseeing it.
So one day, as I scowled at this space trying to make it smarten up, it came to me: open shelves! It would take a few steps, but my mental picture told me it would be worth it.
Here’s how we did it: How to Add Modern Open Shelves to An Old Kitchen
The first step was to relocate the microwave. You can read about that here.
(The Coles notes is: we installed an over the range microwave after some serious MacGyvering of a cupboard. Here’s How to Cut a Cabinet for Over the Range Microwave )
Next we tore out that beast of a microwave shelf.
I had to smile when I found this photo. My dad wrote this on the wall behind to commemorate installing this kitchen together. (Our house was his house back then – and my grandparents before him. They’re the owners of the mint green paint of yore.)
The next step was to remove the cupboard above the shelf-beast. That was pretty straightforward – it was screwed to the cupboards on either side. We unscrewed it.
We had an amazing idea to buy an electric paint sprayer to paint the cupboards.
Amazing is written with extreme sarcasm. The sprayer was a piece of junk and caused more problems than it solved.
The POS paint sprayer worked just long enough for us to spray the sides of the cupboard where the open shelves would live. That idea was a good one at least. It would be hard to paint these sides when the tile was in.
After the shelves were removed we tiled the backsplash and all the way up the open shelf home.
Now, after all that prep, what you came for: the open shelves!
Here we simply cut shelves from the cutoffs from our butcher block counters. Those lovelies came from IKEA. The finish is tung oil. We love the tung!
So the usual steps came next: measure the space – twice of course – and cut them.
We’re lucky enough to have a table saw to use in my dad’s workshop in our yard, but this would be doable with another saw and a saw guide, just with more sanding.
The shelves were pretty easy to install: we screwed through the sides of the neighbouring cupboards. And voila – open shelves ready to give us a bit more storage and a whole lot more pretty.
Our view from lots of angles has improved with this change alone.
I didn’t want to buy anything new to style it, and I’d hoped to actually store useful stuff on them, so that’s what I did. Everything here gets regular use and has freed up other shelf space.
For fun, we added a third shelf at the top. Due to gravity, we can’t put anything on it, but I like the little bit more wood tone it brings to break up the paint on the cupboards and walls. A little wood island in a sea of paint.
There you go, our open shelving! Niggly-free and oh so pretty. Got any questions? We’re keen to answer!