Unless you’ve really been avoiding home decor trends for the past decade, you’ll know that open shelving in the kitchen has been on-trend for a minute now. At Shelfology, we love open shelving – especially in the kitchen! We’ve written ad nauseam about how to hang your kitchen shelves, but today, we are going to discuss precisely where on the wall you should be installing floating kitchen shelves.

The Right Height for Kitchen Shelf Placement
The Right Height for Kitchen Shelf Placement (15 min. Read)

What is the “Right” Height for Kitchen Shelves?

TLDR: There’s really no “right” or “wrong” height at which you should hang your kitchen shelves. Honestly, as long as you like the look and you can reach your items, you’re good to go! But the “standard” we’d recommend would be about 18 inches above your countertop surface and/or 54 inches from the floor.

However, if you’re concerned about the future reselling of your home and how a potential buyer might perceive your handiwork, read on to find out what the standard is for kitchen shelving heights.

Things to Consider Before Hanging Your Shelves

Quality, Quality, Quality (Did We Mention Quality?)

Quality Shelving
Things to Consider Before Hanging Your Shelves: Quality, Quality, Quality (featuring Aksel Floating Shelf, Doohooky Wall Hook, and Ellie Bookend)

We’d lose street cred if we didn’t underscore, first and foremost, the importance of investing in the right materials for the job. Especially considering your kitchen shelves are likely going to be home to many breakable, important things, this isn’t the place to cut corners!

For this job, we recommend high-quality hardwood slabs and reliable, solid-steel shelf hardware. We offer both of these items separately and in kits. For example, for a drool-worthy wood-on-tile look, check out our selection of Aksel Wood Floating Shelves.

How Tall You & Your Family Are!

Modern shelving in kitchen
Things to Consider Before Hanging Your Shelves: How Tall You & Your Family Are! (featuring Aksel Radius floating shelf, Peggy wall storage hook, REM cabinet pull, and Edo wall print hanger)

Generally speaking, it doesn’t make sense to place shelves that you won’t be able to reach without a stool! If the shorter of you and your partner does most of the cooking and serving, make sure they will be able to easily access the shelves. If your shelves only serve a decorative purpose, this isn’t as important. Place your shelves at a height that is visually pleasing AND convenient and you'll be hitting the shelf-height-sweet-spot.

The Standard Height for Kitchen Shelves

modern shelving and cabinet in kitchen
The Standard Height for Kitchen Shelves (featuring Aksel floating shelf, Shard wall hook, Book Wedgie, and Rem cabinet pull)

Okay, so what is the standard height for kitchen shelves? A good touchstone to use is actually the standard height for kitchen cabinets since, by and large, the majority of American homes are still sporting cabinets in the kitchen. In the US, the standard installation height for kitchen cabinets is 18" above the countertop surface and 54" from the floor to the bottom of the cabinet. 

Following this standard, you could do the same with open shelving! However, it’s important to remember that this kitchen standard is designed with opening cabinets in mind, ensuring that there’s plenty of space for the user to operate in the kitchen.

So, if you’re looking to install open shelving at a standard height, our recommendation is to hang the shelf based on the bottom of the shelf itself! Measure up 18" from your countertop surface, mark a line, and ensure an even, level surface.

What About Hanging Multiple Levels of Shelves?

Hanging Multiple Levels of Shelves
Multiple Layers of Shelves (featuring Aksel Radius)

This part is really up to you. Standard kitchen cabinets have about 6–12" of space between them, depending on what’s being stored. Most ready-to-install cabinets have customizable interiors with pegs to hold the individual shelves up. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’ve got a design in mind that features balance and uniformity. This leads many open cabinet installers to choose 18" above the counter for the first shelf, 36" above for the second, and an additional 18" for each additional shelf.

Regardless of how high (or low) you choose to go (limbo, anyone?) your kitchen is going to look stellar! Now get out there and hang some shelves, homies!

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