House & Home

Jars Make the Prettiest Open Shelf Storage

Open shelving filled with glass jars

In my kitchen, space is a premium. Not only are all the drawers and cabinets filled to capacity, but so are the counters (what precious real estate we could dole out to our appliances) and even the vertical space above our heads (by way of two hanging pot racks).

Adding to the problem was the fact that we had no pantry. And when we started buying in bulk because of our chickens, we needed to find a place in the house to stash all the leftover grains — the grains we shared with them, like kamut and oats — which we couldn’t fit in their coop.

Finally, the dear husband agreed to build me some open shelving in our kitchen along a wooden beam in the ceiling. The shelves hold cookbooks and our collection of wooden bowls on one side, and a row of beautiful glass jars on the other side.

Open shelving filled with glass jars

Gallon jars, half-gallon jars, and quart-size mason jars

Gallon jars, half-gallon jars, and quart-size mason jars all line up side by side in a delicious display of spices, grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and dried fruit. What you might find up on the perch are three different kinds of cinnamon… a fragrant jar of lavender… sweet golden raisins and split green peas and brown sesame seeds. Multi-grain oatmeal. Korean black rice. Raw slivered almonds. Organic popcorn.

Jars of grains and legumes

A fragrant jar of lavender

Saigon cinnamon sticks

I feel very Laura Ingalls Wilder in my little country kitchen, living out my prairie fantasy in the middle of a city. It’s cozy and comforting and I end up cooking more. I wander the bulk aisles of my nutty-crunchy grocery store and wonder if I have room for the Madagascar pink rice I’ve been wanting to try.

Now if only I had a pretty open shelf for all my canning jars too…

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Silly little Sheep
    August 30, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Jars are the best! I keep saving jars from Marks and Spencer, the ones with black lids and putting kitchen stuff into them. I once made homemade noodles, dried them and put them in a jar. I felt very country kitchen-y myself 😀

  • Pipay
    October 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I love the reference to Laura Ingalls Wilder!! I loved her books as a child, and I too would want to live my Laura Ingalls Wilder fantasy.

  • Linda Ly
    April 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Haha, yes, I find many uses for them! A couple of sticks in a pot of tea is wonderful.

  • Aimee Fahey
    March 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Love it! I did open shelving last year ( and am so happy with it.

    BTW – that’s a lotta cinnamon sticks, lady! 🙂

  • Lisa M.
    March 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Love it! I too have started storing things in mason jars. I haven’t gotten any of the big jars yet, though they are on my shopping list. They look so pretty all lined up like that!!! Is there any way you could post a picture of that wall where we could see more of the wall and how it looks? It would be nice to see how the shelf fits in with the rest of the kitchen. I also loved the spice rack you did a few posts ago.

    • Linda Ly
      March 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks! Maybe I’ll post a little kitchen tour soon… it’ll motivate me to tidy up the space!

  • Cary Bradley
    March 29, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Lovely. I’m a Laura Ingalls Wilder nut too and understand exactly what you mean. There is something so living-in-the-Big-Woods about having ‘provisions’ on hand to feed ourselves. Congratulations on a neat solution!

  • Caitlin
    March 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

    This is so great! What a lovely pantry and such a creative use of space! Do you ever worry about shelf life of items, or do you use them all quickly? I’d like to try this but worry about things going bad before I can use them.

    • Linda Ly
      March 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Dried goods like grains and legumes have a shelf life of several years when they’re stored in airtight containers (though I always use everything up within a year of buying them). For things like dried fruit, or grains I don’t eat as often, I simply keep them in smaller mason jars so I go through them quicker.

      • Jenny sterne
        January 18, 2018 at 6:58 am

        The glass jars look good, but I would worry about what sunlight would do to the contents.

        • Linda from Garden Betty
          March 1, 2018 at 4:17 am

          The jars live on a shelf that does not get any direct sunlight.


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