How do you determine the height of floating kitchen shelves? How high should a kitchen shelf be over a countertop? What are standard kitchen wall shelf measurements, etc? Keep reading for floating shelve placement ideas and more!
Determining Height For Kitchen Shelves
There are so many decisions to be made when you are installing kitchen wall shelves. Questions like:
- How do you attach floating shelves?
- Should you use heavy duty floating shelf hardware or should you DIY your own brackets?
- What type of wood should you use for your floating shelves?
- What thickness of that wood and what stain?
Seriously, the list goes on and on. Today, I'm hoping to help you with part of your dilemma: how to hang kitchen shelfs by walking you through different options for what height you should install the floating shelves at.
After reading today's post, if you want even more information, inspiration, and how-to details, check out my Heavy Duty Open Shelving Guide. It contains the links to all the posts that I've done on our floating kitchen shelves.
Ok, let's get to today's post. I'm so excited!
6 Examples With Floating Shelf Placement Ideas
I know when I'm trying to make a decision on specific sizing, finishes, etc., it's always extremely helpful when I find a tutorial that lists EXACTLY what I'm looking for. I'm really hoping that this post with examples of kitchen counter shelf heights will walk you through your options and help you decide what will work best in your space.
If you haven't decided on hardware for your shelves, then you will also want to take a look at how we installed the heavy duty floating shelving.
Higher wall shelves for the kitchen
The first image is by Aniko from Place of My Taste. Her shelf placement on the wall is a bit higher than some of the other inspirations. Since she has mounted her DIY shelving a bit higher from the countertop, she has plenty of room on the counter for taller accessories.
The space between shelves is 15" which allows for a large vase, cutting board and still gives you the illusion of negative space, which can valuable.
Kitchen shelf dimensions with exposed brackets
These lovely two shelves are by Megan from Every Davis Moments and have more of a coffee bar shelving vibe. Megan's kitchen counter shelves have exposed brackets with the brackets hanging down closer to the countertop.
Megan's space is a really good representation of a buffet with shelves above it. If you've been wanting to add a shelf in the dining room, you could mimic this look.. The two floating shelves add visual impact in her space.
A shorter distance above kitchen counter to shelf
If you prefer the look of having a lower countertop shelf, then check out this one by Kasey Durbin. One thing that I keyed in on for this kitchen was that the wood kitchen shelves are skinny, which feels balanced in the overall kitchen.
If you notice, the kitchen window is centered in the space and the wood shelves are to the right of the window. On the left side of the window, there's just open wall that is covered with tile. If she would have done chunky wood shelves, I think the overall space could have felt un-balanced.
Kitchen wall shelves that are closer together on wall
These beautiful, chunky wood floating shelves belong to Bridget from the Instagram handle @becrowbe.
I think it's so nice that that her expresso machine fits underneath her shelves! That's definitely something to consider when you are trying to decide what height to put your shelves up at.
Height of hanging kitchen shelves with three shelves
Next up is @kassandradekoning and her beautiful open shelves!
I really love how her open shelves look! If you have tall ceilings like she does, then mounting three hanging shelves is a great option.
8' ceiling and kitchen wall shelves
I'm sure you realize that this last DIY kitchen shelving inspiration is from my own kitchen (see my kitchen reveal if you want to see all the before photos!).
I love playing around with styling the open shelves and, also, the ease of grabbing dishes off them everyday. I would 100% put them up again if we were back at the point where we were deciding whether to do floating shelves in the kitchen or upper cabinets.
What to Put on Floating Shelves if they are high?
If your shelf height is too high to use daily, you need to consider how you want to style your shelves for both functionality and design before putting them in.
For me, if I had high ceilings and a floating shelf at a high height, I'd plan to use that shelf for artwork, glass pitchers, or other serving items that weren't used daily.
How high off the counter should floating shelves be?
Learn how to determine the height of floating kitchen shelves including how high a kitchen shelf should be over a counter. Learn more about standard kitchen wall shelf measurements as well!
- Measuring Tape
- Look at kitchen wall shelves and determine whether you like the look of one, two or three kitchen shelves.
- Take into consideration the height of our ceilings when determining how many shelves to add in your kitchen. In most kitchens with 8' ceilings, one or two shelves will work best.
- Now, consider how you want to use your countertops under the open shelving. Do you need to store a coffee maker or Instapot on the counter? If so, measure those pieces to help guide your shelf height above the counter.
- Look at the inspiration images in this blog post and you'll see that the bottom shelf in each kitchen is hung between 13.5"-23.5" above the countertop.
- Make a decision based on inspiration images as well as your personal kitchen setup and use.
See blog post for six kitchens with different dimensions for shelving height with dimensions for each shelf in the kitchens listed.
I hope this post really gave you lots of valuable information for how far above the counter to mount your floating shelves and how far to space your shelves on the wall. I didn't share an inspiration for a shelf over a kitchen window, but that's another option if you like that look.
If you want more resources for installing floating shelves, then make sure to check out my floating shelving guide!
Thank you for this post! It is great timing as I will be installing floating shelves in my kitchen very soon.
Yay!! Happy that it's perfect timing!
Hi! how much space did you end up with from top shelf to ceiling?
Sorry for my delay in getting back to you. There's 26" from the ceiling to the top of the top shelf. Thanks!
I absolutely needed this post today, thank you!! I had no idea where to start with height.
Oh, great to hear! Good luck!
Thank you for this article. It has helped me quite a bit in deciding what height to install my shelves.
Becky @ Daly Digs
Love this post, Ashley. Thanks for sharing. I found it useful as we're alllllmost to the open shelving part of our kitchen reno. Just wondering, how deep are your actual shelves?
My shelves are 12". They were pretty hard to source at that size (exotic wood store was where I finally found them) but I wanted them to be able to accommodate large plates.
Hi! Did you mount on top of tile or tile around shelf?
We tiled around them. Here's the full tutorial: https://biggerthanthethreeofus.com/install-heavy-duty-floating-shelves-kitchen/
What a great post-and so helpful! Thank you for taking the time to put together and share.
Of course, thanks!!
Thank you for your very timely post. We cook all our meals so we really use the kitchen a lot. I'm opting for open shelves as I intend to set them lower than the previous cabinets in order to be able to actually reach for the things I need without straining. I also prefer them to the cabinets in terms of open look. My question is: how low do you think I can set them without it looking odd? I have been experimenting and at 9 " from counter I would be comfortable reaching up. I'm 5'4". I use a different counter to place my tall machines. Also: would you be willing to share where you got your shelves? I love them. Thank you again.
Sounds like you are going to create a space that is perfect for you! So, I think the lowest shelves I've seen come in at 11" but really, 9" and 11" isn't much of a difference. One thing to think about, your appliances (toaster, coffee maker, canisters, etc.) might be hard to put under a 9" shelf. You might take a tape measure and see what height accommodates those things.
For the wood, we purchased it a local exotic wood store. We got ASH wood and then stained it at home.
I created an Open Shelving Guide that has all the posts on my open shelving (+ all the sources), here's the link: https://biggerthanthethreeofus.com/project-gallery/diy-open-shelving-kitchen-guide/
Hope that helps!
Any advice for shelves over a sink?
Your blog has been SO helpful and your kitchen is dreaaaaamy!!! Do you mind sharing what stain you used on your shelves please!!! 🙂
Thanks Lisa! We used a weather oak stain (same as our floors).
Thank you so much for all of the great info and the measurements as well! My husband and I are currently building a home and are planning for floating shelves in our kitchen on either side of the windows that will be above our sink. My main question is, how thick are your shelves? That’s the only measurement I couldn’t find in your post. Thank you so much!
Sorry, I missed your comment. The floating shelves are just under 2" thick.
Excellent info and super timely! Do you mind sharing how tall your ceilings are (I.e. height from counter top to ceiling)? I really like your spacing measurements and hope to make them work! Thank you 🙂
Hi Anne, Our ceilings are 8'.
I found your site because I am struggling with this right now... do you think it would look terrible if I had three shelves that aren't evenly spaced? I want to be about 16" off the counter to make the countertop still usable, have space atop the lowest shelf for liquor bottles (about 16") and then put a third shelf at the top that would be only 12" above the middle shelf... so 16" from countertop to lowest, 16" from lowest to middle, then 11" to the top shelf. The top shelf would be not reachable or useful if I went with another 16" space...
So, it's probably a personal preference. For me, I'd just do the two shelves. It's so nice having extra space on top of the top shelf for taller items. I personally like symmetry so that plays into that decision as well.
OMG THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I’m exactly at this point in my Reno! I have decorative brackets and struggling to get them spaced because they take up room underneath. Also with how high up beside th window!
This gives me some references
Sweet! Hope they turn out amazing.
How tall is your ceiling? We were able to remove our soffits and so we gain a foot. My husband wanted 3 floating shelves and we have 8ft ceiling.
I'm sorry - I missed your comment. Our ceilings are 8ft in the kitchen.
Hi. Love this post. What height would you recommend for a single floating shelf above countertop? We have 8’ ceilings. Thanks!
I'd probably split the difference in the shelves and go with that height.
SO helpful - thank you!
yay! Thanks for letting me know.
Great info! My faucet is 20" high, how many inches do you think I need above it for my floating shelves?
Thank you for saving my sanity today after arriving at our new home to find all the open shelves SO wrong. Google found you for me and resolved the issue very quickly. 18" from counter to bottom shelf, then 13" between two upper shelves with a 10' ceiling. Now to solve the great room shelf issues...
Oh no! Hope it's an easy fix!!
This whole look is amazing!
What is the color on the cabinets?!
Hi, Thank you! They are cracked pepper by Behr.
Thanks so much for this helpful post. What would you have done had your window been closer to the corner? I'm preparing for floating shelves the length of the wall over my sink; however, the adjacent wall has a window at the corner. Debating whether to allow the 12" shelf to encroach, or provide a bit of clearance, and if so, how much. What does your instinct tell you? Appreciate your thoughts!
That's tricky. A 12" shelf allows you to put a full size plate on it but I think in your case, I might go for a smaller shelf. Or, you could definitely not do a full-width shelf. That would work, too! If it were me, I think I'd center the shelf on the wall and give myself room on both sides so that it feels intentional with the window. Something like this: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/176273772901595624/
Hello I have a question about the height of floating shelves. I’m considering doing a slab backsplash and shelves on either side of a hood which is 34 inches above the base counter. Should I put the shelves at hood height to maintain the integrity of the slab? Or put at first shelf around upper cabinet bottom - around 18”? Stop the backsplash there or go to next shelf? I have to put his second shelf at hood height to run the backsplash up to that height evenly with hood if that makes sense?
I put 3 floating shelves evenly spaced next to our kitchen window, but now I’m wondering if the tallest one looks awkwardly tall. We have 9 foot ceilings and it goes up to 10 feet in the middle. The last shelf is just below height of our large window. I don’t know how to include a pic but maybe you could see a picture and let me know…? We’re in process of a remodel so the cabinets not painted or tile done so it’s hard to get a full mental picture too. Could you help??
Hi this is so helpful! May i ask what is the space in between your two shelves? Thank you! 🙂
Your post is really helpful! Many thanks
Great post, I have a question for ya! I am installing shelves above the North side of our kitchen counter. Our peninsula with seating connects to this part of the counter so the corner at the wall will be a bit crunched where the peninsula, with seating, will meet that North countertop. How close can I put the shelves to the edge of the counter without someone hitting their head? As in, someone sitting at the peninsula will be facing the butt-end of a shelf. Hope that makes sense, thank you for any insights you may have, Kayla
Great information, has helped immensely with shelf measurements for my renovation!!
The one other measurement that would be interesting & helpful is the distance from the floor to the top shelf?
Thanks so much for this post, we are just about to start on ours!! I was wondering if you knew the thickness of the the shelves in the last 3 examples? We are trying to decide between 1" 1.5" or 2" shelves. Thank you!
Oops, I just found the answer (just under 2" thick) in a comment above – sorry for the repeat question and thanks again for the helpful post!
Hey! Love this post -it’s really helpful! Are these measurements always using that same set of standards? And if so, what that set of standards might be?
from the counters to the bottom of the first shelf & then from the top of the bottom shelf to the bottom of the second shelf?
Glad it's helpful! I honestly can't remember what the request for the measurements were (either bottom of the shelf or the top). It's been years since I wrote this post. I'm sorry!