Floating Shelves On Display
A designer’s approach to open storage with strength and style.
Synopsis: For years, architect Cindy Black has concentrated much of her practice on the kitchen. In this article, she discusses the pros and cons of open shelving in that storage-intensive area. For many of her clients, this storage option adds a sense of space to a bank of cabinets and creates a place to display ornamentals. Three different designs are profiled: (1) a simple shelf that is supported only by a hidden cleat, (2) shelves hung from the ceiling by threaded rods, and (3) a series of shelves wrapped with a welded band of stainless steel. Each design is illustrated with a construction drawing that shows the method and details of the attachment.
Photos: Whit Preston
For the past 14 years, I’ve been working as a residential architect with my husband in Austin, Texas. In 2009, I opened an offshoot of our firm called Hello Kitchen to offer architectural services focused around that room—the center of a typical house. During several hundred kitchen consultations, I’ve had a fascinating peek into the way people occupy and use their kitchens. In my design process, I often walk clients through big changes that will alter those familiar patterns. One of the more polarizing subjects is that of open (or floating) versus closed shelving. Because the issue revolves around storage of personal items, it often seems like clients have settled this decision before our discussion begins.
I’ve found that the tidy and meticulous homeowner has no trouble understanding the concept of open shelving in the kitchen. Items are arranged artfully on the shelves within arm’s reach, and they require an occasional dusting or cleaning.
But for those who have a looser approach to domestic life, the desire for less maintenance can drive the decision to put everything behind closed doors. Another factor is the…