One of the easiest ways to open up your kitchen is with open shelving–like these below. Here are tips on how to style glass front kitchen cabinets.

When we remodeled our kitchen we took down the existing cabinets and added these glass front kitchen cabinets that used to be in the butler’s pantry.

Maybe it’s because they look so classic.

Maybe it’s because they make a room feel so much more open.

Maybe it’s because we already had them and they were free.

Maybe it’s because they remind me of Emily Gilmore’s kitchen on Gilmore Girls.

I can’t help it.  I just love glass front kitchen cabinets.

I think I need to write another post about free cabinets and how to add a little plywood and some molding and re-use them and re-create them and make them feel like they stepped out of the pages of a high-end design magazine.  But I thought I would start with the basics first.  Like what to put in them and how to make them feel open and how to make them feel uncluttered.

Here’s how to style glass front kitchen cabinets and the dishes that love them.

Why glass front cabinets

Every time I bring up glass front cabinets I hear comments like these:

“My dishes aren’t cute enough to show the world.”

And “How do you keep them organized?”

And my personal favorite “Where do you put all your Tupperware?”

I get it.  I understand.  I know it seems like glass front cabinets might be a little intimidating, but truly?  They are easy to keep clean and organized and un-tupperwared if you use a few simple tips.

What to put in glass front cabinets

These are our actual cabinets.  The ones we use every day.  They are full of our dishes and plates and bowls and cups that we use every single day.

I think so many people make the mistake of thinking that glass front cabinets have to be a museum display.  How many times have you seen a glass front cabinet full of impractical, unusable, things like fancy glass dishes and figurines and squirrel nutcrackers?


The most successful way to enjoy glass front cabinets and make them practical is TO USE THEM.  All this stuff?  It’s what we put our chicken nuggets on and frozen pizza on and drink our coffee from and pour our sweet tea.

We have three sets of glass front cabinets in our kitchen where every single thing in them gets used on a regular basis (except the top shelf because when you are five feet tall top shelves just aren’t really a thing).


How to create the look of built-in plate racks

When you style a glass front cabinet, you want to start with the plates. These are not fancy plates.  Not even close.  They are a lifetime of white plates collected from every corner of the globe and every corner of a yard sale.

You can see they are different patterns.  You can see they are different colors.  You can see they are different sizes.  That is their charm.

Individually they are imperfect plates.

But together?

They are perfection.

  1. Normally, with high-end glass front kitchen cabinets, you might have plate racks installed.  But these are not fancy cabinets.  These are recycled butler’s pantry almost ended up in the trash kind of cabinets.
  2. They need their own unique kitchen solution—wood plate racks. You can find them here.
  3. Plate racks like these come in a set of two.  I used three plate racks to fill the width of my cabinets.
  4. They come in a natural wood color, but I spray painted them white to match the cabinets.  You can also see where I used them in my butler’s pantry at the farmhouse here.
  5. You can attach them to the kitchen cabinets to the bottom of the cabinet shelf, but I just put them up there and they pretty much stay in place.

How to style glass front kitchen cabinets with mugs and cups

These are the glasses we use every day.

  1. You want to start with glasses that you actually use. I have had them for over four years and they still look like this.  And they are PLASTIC.  And monogrammed.  And they just look so fancy and cute and friendly up there in the cabinets.  Like all they need is sweet tea and a party.
  2. I just line them up on the bottom shelf and place the coffee mugs on the top shelf.
  3. You can order them in a set of six with the monogram here.
  4. Those coffee mugs?  They are a hot coffee mug mess.  They, too, have been collected over the years with different styles and shapes and handles.  But when your mugs are all the same color, it just works.
  5. At first, I was going to hang hooks from the ceiling of the shelf to give me even more room to put more mugs, but then I moved most of the cups to the butler’s pantry.

You can see how I organized them in the butler’s pantry here.

How to style glass front kitchen cabinets with bowls

Here’s my yard sale bowl collection.  Most of it is still in the dishwasher from breakfast.

Again, see how they don’t match?

  1.  Notice that they are different patterns and sizes and colors.
  2. My favorite tip for styling bowls is to match them with smaller plates.
  3. See the small stacks of plates?  They are just stacked together in this cabinet and then the bowls are layered on top.
  4. I also like to place some plates flat against the back of the cabinets.  That way they fill out the cabinet a little more.
  5. I never stack the bowls straight.  I just think they look so much cuter a little katywhompus.  I turn them this way and that way when I unload them from the dishwasher. That way they aren’t so matchy matchy.

How to style glass front kitchen cabinets with pitchers and large bowls

On the side of the end of the cabinets, we added this open shelving to make it fit into the kitchen.

I’ll share more about how we did that in the post I’m going to write on how to upgrade free cabinets.  It was such a simple fix and the shelves are the perfect place to put all the larger entertaining pieces like over-sized bowls or pitchers or large whiteware pieces.

I use pieces like this one every couple of weeks for entertaining or family dinners.

How to style the shelves of a hutch

I also have open shelving on this hutch in the kitchen.  Here are a few tips on styling it.

                1. I hang plates on the back of the hutch with plate hangers for height.
                2. I place oversized platters in the middle.
                3. I place plates along the back of the hutch.
                4. Then I style bowls and other whiteware pieces in front of them.
                5. I add a small lamp to light up the entire hutch and make it feel welcoming.

I think that glass front cabinets should just be enjoyed.

They do look so classic.

They really do make a room feel so much more open.

And they do remind me of Emily Gilmore’s kitchen on Gilmore Girls.

But truly?  I don’t overthink the styling.  I don’t overthink the shelves.  I don’t overthink what goes in them.  I just style the kitchen cabinets with what I have and know I’m going to use on an every day basis and with what I love.

And that?

It makes them beautiful.

PS  If you use your dishes every day, you don’t have to worry about the dust, either. 🙂

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    I love glass fronted cabinets-so beautiful and they really are easy to keep neat and organized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Thank you for breaking this down in words, I like to look at pictures and try to figure it out, but the words really do make it so much more helpful! I like that katywhompus is now a regular vocabulary word too! Under the section How to style the Shelves of a hutch, something is off, the picture is either missing or perhaps the text goes with the pic below it. Have a great day!

  3. Image for Kris Kris

    We put in 2 sets of glass front cabinets when we re-did our kitchen a few years ago, and I love love love them. I, too, get constant comments about "my dishes aren't pretty enough" etc. I always tell them that I put the ugly stuff behind my cupboards with solid doors but people still give me that disbelieving look. My dishes are a mish-mash--cream, white, and some clear glasses--and while I haven't tried your plate rack technique, I still think they look pretty. My house is a 1960 ranch and the original kitchen was there when we bought it--SO dark and dreary, complete with soffits. It's a relatively small space with no easy options to enlarge it, so I wanted to visually enlarge it. White cupboards did the trick, with the seeded glass cabinets on the most visible wall making the area look more open without having to give up the protection of a closed door. Renovating the kitchen completely changed how I felt about my home!

  4. Image for Margaret Mills Margaret Mills

    None of the steps for styling a hutch came up so I wonder if you would post them again. Just a big blank open space-but no dialogue or pictures. I am very interested in that. Thanks.

  5. Image for Loryl Loryl

    I’ve alway admired your glass front cabinets and love them even more because they are practical. And plastic monogrammed glasses, SO CHIC! I have plastic glasses that look like a set of PB but with small hands and even arthritic ones the weight is so much better. I’ve had them for YEARS and they still look good. Plus they’re the first ones everyone grabs for a drink. I even got some cute bubble glass ones that are acrylic. Cost me a quarter each at Michaels on clearance one year. I of course bought everyone they had left🤣 My husband is going to order those plate racks too. What a great price and just what we’ve been looking for to store our cutting boards!

  6. Image for Mary DeRobertis Mary DeRobertis

    I love how you have styled these glass front cabinets that you moved in from the butler's pantry. I am really looking forward to your post on upgrading free cabinets. Will you be telling us how to turn an average cabinet door into a glass front door? Can't wait. Thanks for all your fabulous ideas!

    1. Image for RW RW

      Mary, I'll look forward to hearing about upgrades, too. Thought I'd pass along what a friend of mine does about adding glass doors to any bookcase/cabinet. She buys (or makes) and paints a wooden frame like a stretcher for a canvas frame. (Hobby type shops, picture frame department, usually available in two inch or so increments.) She mounts a piece of glass in each frame using the types of little clear plastic clips that are normally used to hold a flat unframed mirror to a wall in a bathroom -- one screw to each clip. Then she uses regular hinges to attach the framed glass to the cabinet. This friend DOES NOT DUST any items in any bookcase. Honestly. Does not dust. She puts glass doors on everything that might collect dust.

  7. Image for Cecilia E Cecilia E

    You have just made me rethink glass cabinet doors. I thought I didn’t like them, but after seeing yours, and reading your thoughts on them, I think you have swayed me over! We will be renovating our kitchen in the fall. Too bad we don’t have a butlers pantry we can raid them from 😏

  8. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, you have released me from the bondage of trying to keep my bowls from being perfectly aligned in my cupboards. If yo don’t do that with your bowls, then I feel like I have been freed and just am able to enjoy living with my cupboards! Thank you for letting me be free!

  9. Image for RW RW

    My dishes aren't all white -- I have some white, some cobalt, and some clear. ( Plus a few sentimental pieces like the little plates my kid ate on as a toddler, which my husband keeps saying I should declutter. I kind of like the memories when we use them. ) Anyway, instead of saying, "Yes, but...," I am rethinking the location of glass-fronted daily dishes in my kitchen -- and the dishes I use less often, which are also in glass front cabinets over in a "china cabinet" area, mostly never accessed. Time for a decluttering and reorganizing. Too little time... too many projects!

    1. Image for Kris Kris

      I don't think you have to have all white dishes to have glass front cabinets--if there is a way to balance the cobalt with the white and clear, it would be a pretty presentation.

  10. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    I never wanted open shelves because I HATE TO DUST!!! Love glass doors on cabinets though. But I've been painting the kitchen cabinets...forever, it seems! And with all the doors off, I kinda like the open shelves. Not all of them...altho they are fairly neat. (Surprisingly! I'm NOT a neatnik!) But the dishes look nice...and easy access! My carpenter should get to my kitchen in the next couple weeks. I can't wait to get my new gas range with a real size oven. (This is a mini-makeover on a TINY budget. Not sure how long we'll stay here. Everything is original from the 60s,)

  11. Image for Jenifer Scherlin Jenifer Scherlin

    So, how would you make FiestaWare look good in glass cabinets? My set has over 5 different colors and I don’t know how that would work out!

  12. Image for Anna Anna

    Fiesta Ware is a whole different animal---it is a look of its own and beautiful anywhere! Show it off, and feel so lucky to be able to. Love the colors.

  13. Image for Becky Becky

    Hmmm. I think I've always over complexified glass fronts in my mind! This is so.. practical. I have this urge to race into my kitchen and rip all the solid doors off now, haha! And OH YOUR DISHES... Mine are twins!!! Every white dish ever made... I rarely pay more that 50 cents, it's (sad but) OK if the kids break one.. or 2... or 10 (eek!). I just go hunting for more! The mix makes me happy, and the younger kids like setting the table with just the right plate for the recipient, haha!

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