When we remodeled our kitchen last year, I insisted on open shelving. My mom was all, "Oh, no! Don't do that! It will be so cluttered! You'll have to dust so much!".
I'm here to tell you that does not have to be the case. And, you probably won't be dusting anymore than usual either. We absolutely love our open shelving. First, it opened up the space where the cabinets kept it looking closed in. Secondly, putting dishes away is a breeze. No opening and closing cabinets. And everything is right there within reach.
Here was my strategy for beautiful and practical open shelving:
1. Ruthlessly get rid of all of those extra and random coffee mugs, plastic cups, dishes and odds and ends that are taking up all the space in your cabinets. And when I say ruthless, I mean it. Do you really need 14 coffee mugs that were given to you as gifts, none of which match? No. Keep only the most special pieces. When we remodeled I got rid of so much stuff. And you know what? I don't miss it at all and I still have stuff I could part with easily.
2. We did tile all the way from the counter to the ceiling. This made the open shelving walls a feature in the kitchen. The same can be accomplished with wallpaper or art.
3. For practical purposes, place the everyday items on the lower shelves where they are within reach and because they are on the lower shelf they are more protected from dust. They are also used so often they don't have time to collect dust down there.
4. Stagger items on the lower shelves so height varies to create interest.
5. On the top shelves, I also have practical items that get used, but I also peppered in art, plants and a few decorative items. These shelves do get a dusting every other week or so.
6. As with any display, try to put items in odd number groupings, use books to add height where needed and keep the color palette relatively limited. Especially, if, like me, you are a maximalist and went for colorful tile or wallpaper.