Vivez Bien * Live Well

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skirting Around The Issue


To skirt or not to skirt - that is the question.... and I need your advice.

When we renovated (actually rebuilt) our house and 2+ years ago, I needed to be very mindful of our budget so instead of  built-in kitchen cabinets on either side of our range cooker,  I used  standard carpenter's workbenches, slightly modified, with the idea of replacing them in a few years. They are, in fact, working so well, that I don't think I will bother changing them, but I am toying with the idea of adding skirts to them. This is where you come in.

"It's Complicated" movie site

I have been collecting images of kitchens with skirted counters for a while and I do find them very appealing.

While I find my open shelves to be very convenient, especially as there is not a lot of space between them and the island, for opening and closing cupboard doors, I do wonder if adding a skirt would make my kitchen look a bit more streamlined?

My kids use these glasses 50 times a day and I know they will get irritated at having to push aside a curtain to get to them....



But in my home, I'm ashamed to say, aesthetics always wins over practicality, and they should know that by now!


If I went ahead, I would have a skirt that is easily removable for washing...

... but I don't want to have to wash it every week

Via The Little Corner on Tumblr

My island is tall and wide so tends to obscure the view of the open shelves from the family room.


So my internal debate rages on.... should I add a skirt or not?

Via The Paper Mulberry

I do like the look of them, but don't know if they will start to become an irritation.

I tend to put things on these shelves that I use daily or, at least very regularly, so gathering dust is not really an issue.


I like my kitchen to have a lived in look, but not cluttered. There is a fine line!

Via Segreto

But since I have open shelves above these workbenches and on either end of my island, I am wondering if that is not enough of my stuff on display.

If I add a skirt, I can use the shelving for things that are not for public view.

Via Green like Bathwater on Tumblr

But will my boys' grubby fingers opening and reopening the curtains, make them look tatty in no time at all?

Via House and Leisure Mag

As you can see, I have lots of questions going through my mind!

So, please tell me what you think. Have you had experience in this area, or do you just have an opinion one way or another? I would love to hear from you.

Via Daisy Pink Cupcake Blog

Till next time

Sharon x


  1. I think this would work nicely if it was installed to glide across the space easily, like a shower rod/shower curtain ring idea. Don't make it difficult for the children to use or make it impossible to keep clean. Surely there must be some heavy lovely plastic (like oilcloth) which could be used. Make certain it's simple & easy to open & close.

  2. I love the idea of adding a skirt, I am drawn to skirted kitchens. It is something you would not see here in Australia, yet I love the look. My favourite store Villa Maison is set up like a french country house & has a skirted kitchen which I adore. With that said I do love your open shelves.

  3. I vote for the skirt!! Nothing is wrong with open shelves, but adding a skirt could add a little pizzazz, then eyes would be drawn to your upper shelves. Just my opinion!! I adore your kitchen. That shelving with the brick wall behind it is such stunning.

  4. I vote for a skirt too. I am about to do the same in my kitchen with an old fashioned red and white check. As for the glasses, if that is what the kids are getting all the time, move only them to a handy location like where I spy your dinner plates. A strip of velco, stapled on works great but those little ball bearing hooks that slide are great too. I have used both with success.

  5. If you are concerned about keeping them clean, how about a canvas dropcloth sprayed with Scotch Guard? It has the look of linen without all the fuss!
    I say do it!
    The worst that could happen is that you will not like it and it can be removed.
    Your home is an inspiration to me!


  6. Sharon I LOVE your kitchen and think adding a skirt would look fabulous!! I love that look and have been thinking of doing it to the cabinets under my kitchen sink. GO FOR IT!!

  7. Your kitchen is beautiful!!!
    I vote for a skirt too.....

  8. You know that I ADORE your kitchen! I am TRYING to convince Mr D to let me remove our ugly cabinet doors. I would love open shelving on top with skirts beneath. You, my dear, have the perfect opportunity to pop on a pretty skirt! As always, you inspire me so! Maybe I can use this post to present my case to Mr D! May God bless you, Sharon. I'll let you know if I win! LOL

  9. Love your kitchen and a skirt would be the perfect touch...adore the burlap ones!!

  10. Go for the skirt and if it drives you crazy pull them to the side or take them off. I do like the way you keep your objects on the open shelves. Stacking things on trays and baskets keeps it neat.
    Good luck Kylie

  11. I agree, go for it!!! Your kitchen is lovely, and I know very practical to have all on hand..
    I skirted open shelving at the beach house with old french dishcloths..moved the stuff like dinnerware we don't use all the time, smaller items into baskets on added wheels underneath, (did leave some baskets open though, but baskets that are reaching to the top...) even did the same trick in the pantry, and love it. I used little clip on rings for easy removal on brass rods available from hardware in lenth you require(easy to saw as well)ends fit into neat little corners that you get seperately. they have been lasting now for 10 years, still perfect, even with sea elements in the air!
    I love the image with the mixed torchons and monogrammed linen ... and oh re the glasse...perhaps exchange for something not in use all the time on a counter..have you considered extra shelves exactly like the ones on the left and right underneath the other two?...if you keep your white plates currently on the side of your island there..very bistro like stacked...and move your glasses to the side of your island not know how convenient for the boys, but I would do that....or even those shelving you attached underneath another shelf and slide the glasses in , hanging upside down...
    Col xx

  12. oh I just thought of something else Sharon.. why not put a shelf, using a rustic whitewashed buidlers "plank" , or the same as your existing shelf ,the complete lenth from left to right above your windows height!! that way you extend the height visually...have storage for stuff not in use everyday...allowing for more counter space, and YES add the curtains..and even still add the little shelves to the left and right..they could be smaller tahn the two above to fit in underneath your lovely brackets... to keep your glasses there..Colx

  13. love all these pictures. i don’t know about skirting but like you, in my house aesthetics always win..
    xo sandra

  14. Well, not to be a follower, I say go for the skirt! I agree with the other gals that keeping it easy open/easy close is essential. I think grommets on a metal extension rod would do the trick for sure. I did that in my daughters bedroom and it's perfect! I also think keeping the fabric durable and simple is the recipe for success and happiness all 'round. Have fun! I lust your kitchen, Sharon. Much love, Lisa

  15. I say go for the skirt. They look fabulous and I think the idea from 'divine theatre' is a good one. The scotchgard with the linen look. Whatever you choose, your kitchen looks fantastic. Leahx

  16. the skirt would look amazing.I'd put it on eyelets or tabs so you could draw them open easily and without to much bulk.they could be left open for easy access when needed.remember you can take them down if the become wont know until you give them a go.

  17. OH No I love your cabinets opened for display!!! I love how you put everything into wooden trays as well. I just love love your kitchen. My husband would absolutely hate and give me a hard time about curtains. OH I can just hear him saying how dumb it is lol! But I do love curtains under the sink area. I would love that but know he would not go for it. I watched a design show years ago and the woman in Toronto had a fabulous place and her curtains were all big french linen dish towels that she used to wipe her hands on and then every week threw them in the wash ...I thought it was so cool!
    Pamela xo

  18. Love so many of these images. I would go for it. It softens the kitchen and would look charming. If you get board with it, it would not be a big deal to change it back.

  19. Moi j'aime bien les petits rideaux, mais je dois reconnaître, que il faut les laver souvent
    Magnifiques toutes ces photos
    Bonne journée

  20. Definitely add the curtains. It will make the room more streamlined and restful. I too have open shelving up top and love it! Your kids will be fine. The curtains will hold up for quite some time and then a quick wash will make them right again. Keep in mind too, if you put them up and don't like them you can always take them down, no harm done, no big deal.

  21. Sharon, I envy you your open shelves and have wanted this for my own home. That being said, I do like the skirts for the bottom shelves. As you mention it does streamline the look. I think it gives a soft element to complement the brick wall and gives the eye an area to land and rest. I give the idea two thumbs up !

  22. Go for the skirts. Move the glasses that the kids use 50 times a day up on the counter...(would look great in your tray) or anything else that is used constantly. Wha la....resolved. Where did you get these GREAT standard work benches?

  23. Hi Sharonn. First, thanks for the answers, I will let you know when i post it. Second, I absolutely love your kitchen and what a fab idea to use builders benches, totally brilliant. I adore the way you have them organized and would not bother with curtians. I know I know it will look great with them skirted as well but I am loving your look and would say, only if for a change...then sure ...skirt! I must say that Colette's idea sounds good with the long shelf and I can see it working well. Love your clock and I spy one of my fav cookbooks on my wishlist... Delectable!



  24. Hi Anonymous
    I'm not sure if you are South African, but I got the builders workbenches at Builders Warehouse in Cape Town.

  25. I have 3 boys.
    Move the glasses to the counter and add the skirts.


  26. Go for the skirting...I think you will love it. Use durable canvas type fabric with curtain rings so that they are easily opened and closed. And as one follower suggested, either put the glasses on the counter, or move them to the end of the shelves so that they are the first thing available when the curtains are pulled back....

  27. A skirt would definitely look good on your kitchen,
    it would add a little softness but is it worth the maintenance... I mean the washing and your children's pushing and putting them back everytime they need anything in those shelves... Well, I guess only you can tell. I am not much help, am I?

  28. Your kitchen is beautiful as it is and I love what's going on it it, I definitely wouldn't add any skirts.

    I don't know, sometimes I like skirts in kitchen photos, but when I see them in reality I usually tire of them very soon or find them a bit tacky. Well, that of course depends on the fabric. So, let's just say I have a love-hate relationship with them ;-)

  29. Sharon I LOVE your blog!!! Thank you for posting so many beautiful things, I love your style and am reminded to stay true to mine (which by the way is so much like yours and not like my husband who stifles my decor ideas!) Yours are truly beautiful. In regards to your skirt idea, I love the open shelves that you have. You already have such a wonderful collection going under there, maybe you could group like-things and colors together or use more baskets? But honestly I LOVE what you have and would kill for a kitchen like that...beautiful!! Excited to see what you go with..Cheers Julia

  30. Fabric next to an oven sounds like a fire hazard to me. Aesthetics come second only to safety! Your kitchen looks fabulous as is.

  31. WOW. I am coming into the "conversation" a bit late, but I LOVE the skirts you pictured here!!! Here is what I vote for: It is YOUR kitchen. The skirts idea is excellent. You will be dusting much less frequesntly, and the neater look with the added texture is great, stylish, etc. So go for it!
    ps you have inspired me to put a canvas or burlap-ish "skirt" in the guest bath! Thank you!!!!!

  32. Sharon your kitchen is DIVINE!!! Fabulous post! I have to say your workbench shelving is gorgeous and your shelves are so neat and attractive I think you could certainly go without the skirt. I have a curtain (skirt) to cover my dishwasher, it's linen and washable (actually I have several that I can wash and store so there is never an issue of the dishwasher on show when the curtain is in the wash!) The fabric I used is a deep 'greige' linen and doesn't look grubby even when gardening hands have been opening it, plus I have the option of leaving it un-ironed (love crumpled linen). You could always have skirts pulled aside for everyday ease of use for the boys and just close them when you want to hide any clutter perhaps? Mind you your clutter really is very lovely! The best of both worlds! Warmest of wishes from an old farmhouse in England - Glenda xxxx

  33. With all your darling baskets and really do not need them...but I like to switch things up and skirts might be fun for a change;

  34. I had to comment again Sharon...i couldn't get your kitchen out of my head lol! If you choose to have skirts they would also look great pushed to the side for an alternative look. Even having the skirts framing the opening would look lovely. Either way your kitchen is just gorgeous and i would love to copy it!!
    Pamela xo

    P.S. I love what Glenda had to say!

  35. I adore your kitchen, I have never seen anything like it. I would go for curtains - but what about using them as doors? Have your curtains on a pole, where the pole lifts up from a hook, away from the frame, opening as a door does. No disturbing of the folds, and limited sticky finger marks. Can I copy for my dream home when I retire?.....

  36. I really like the skirt in the kitchen but just a little .....not too much of it!

  37. as an alergic reader, I'd vote to keep the shelves unadorned; sans skirts. washing / laundering / ironing will become an added chore. not to mention dust that will collect, in season. your kitchen is beautiful w. little need to improvise. 'manhattan maven'