They often say the kitchen is the heart of the home: You use it for lounging, socializing, cooking and everything in between. However, if you can’t stand the way it looks, you’re probably prone to avoiding it altogether—and what a waste of square footage that can be.
This versatile space can encompass so much, incorporating a number of different styles depending on what you’re looking for. No matter whether you want a family-friendly space to gather or simply an area in the home where you can get your sous vide on in peace, there’s always a way to create a kitchen that’s stylish and functional. Even if you’re limited on space. And even if you can’t undertake a massive reno. To help you out, we asked interior designers for their top kitchen decor ideas, along with no-effort purchases to make those concepts a reality.
“New cabinet hardware and natural stone make inexpensive cabinetry look anything but cheap,” says Lauren Nelson, owner and principal of Lauren Nelson Design. “For our studio kitchen, we almost bought fancy custom cabinetry, but then decided to go budget on cabinets. We splurged on my favorite stone for the countertop and backsplash, creating an elevated, old-world look that complements the more modern cabinets.”
Even if you can’t spring for new countertops or a backsplash, you may find a fresh coat of paint and upscale knobs and pulls can make a huge difference in refreshing the room overall. Here are three options to consider:
This easy pull’s angular lines and metallic finishes give it a polished feel.
A trendy combination of steel and Lucite, these knobs would really pop in a two-toned kitchen.
A gold-finished bail hangs from polished black brass to provide a look that’s simple, yet stylish.
“Kitchens are arguably the hardest working spaces in your home and should therefore be beautiful and functional! We recommend keeping the accessories to a minimum, so work spaces are always clean and clear,” says Maggie Griffin, founder and lead designer of Maggie Griffin Design. “We love to use a simple crock for utensils and a pretty tray for those items we use every day, such as olive oil, salt and pepper. Creative items like bar carts work too!” With that in mind, these three styles will liven up just about any space:
1. Oscarine Lucite Bar Cart
An art deco-inspired piece with solid brass and reflective Lucite, this easy bar cart looks just as good tucked away in the kitchen as it does in the center of attention at parties.
This vintage piece is perfect for storing everything from loose pots and pans to all those linens you bought that year you got really into tablescapes.
Both practical and decorative, this canister is perfect for stowing sugar, flour—or all those matchbooks you’ve pocketed from restaurants over the years.
“I’m a firm believer the kitchen space is a room dedicated to function, and therefore the accessories should be kept utilitarian,” says Meagan Camp of Meagan Camp Interiors. “Linens are a different way to bring in color and personality. I love French vintage dish towels, or a set of Turkish dish cloths. Pretty kitchen towels look equally great folded neatly at the edge of a sink, as they do crumpled up on the counter!”
Striped with a tufted edge, these simple dish towels are machine washable for easy cleanup.
Old-school but elegant, this charming linen kitchen towel’s designs are inspired by the Italian countryside.
Alternating pink and grey stripes make this hand towel stand out, and the extra-long hem makes it all the more attention-getting. While it may technically be for a bathroom, using it near your kitchen sink works just as well. You design rebel, you.
“Kitchens have always been and will always remain the heart of every home, no matter how technologically advanced we get, or how virtual we may start to live,” says Kendall Wilkinson of Kendall Wilkinson Design. “Using ceramic platters and dishes highlights the food and allows for mixing and matching over time. As a mother to two teenage boys, things often break, and it’s nice to know that everything works together, so I don’t get hung up on perfectly matched items. Vintage Italian and French pitchers and platters can also be a fun way to add character and texture to your islands.”
Each piece is made by hand, creating a one-of-a-kind focal point for your countertops.
Working as both a centerpiece and a serving piece, this crafted bowl features a timeless blue basket weaved motif that makes the otherwise all-white piece feel a little fancier.
Ina Garten would totally approve of you using this classic water jug as a vase, so consider it a dual-purpose investment in your decor.
“Always incorporate live greenery in a kitchen [as well as] other organic elements,” says Dawn Hamilton of DawnElise Interiors. You can even use fake plants if you’re so inclined, and also hang up spices and flowers around the kitchen for a fragrant feel without resorting to synthetics.
This faux orchid may not look exactly like the real thing, but it’s been designed by florists to ensure that it’s the perfect complement to any space. And it spares you the hassle of freaking out whether you’re watering too much or not enough (aka every orchid owner’s dilemma).
A tropical fern with a delicate foliage, this plant changes color as it grows—from red to bronze to bright green. How cool is that?
Consisting of a round woven basket that easily mounts on the wall, this faux plant adds a touch of green to even the smallest of spaces.
Another fun way to mix and match, according to Wilkinson, is through the use of bar stools. You can buy a number of different ones in varying styles—think boho, modern, farmhouse and the like—or you can keep changing them up by reupholstering your old ones as you tire (or wear out) the current design. It’s an easy way to keep the kitchen space interesting.
Talk about royal: This navy barstool has ample padding for your back, while the long legs give it a regal feel.
Made from durable hardwood and trimmed with a nailhead border, this upholstered counter stool is great for gathering around the kitchen island.
For more of a modern feel, this swivel chair is totally the way to go: A 360-degree turn, a chrome base and a sizable footrest allow for complete comfort.
“Don’t forget your cookbooks!” says Camp. “Oftentimes, the photography is vibrant and colorful. Why not open up a page and prop the book onto a stand? The imagery will act as decor, while also providing dinner inspiration.”
If you’re inspired by designer/cook/lifestyle guru Joanna Gaines (and honestly, who isn’t?), her collection of classic comforts will leave everyone in the home satisfied and asking for seconds… even the pickiest eaters.
If you work long hours and never have the time to put together a nutritious meal, this cookbook has the solution: Straightforward instructions paired with easy ingredients make healthy eating accessible for everyone.
Throwing a party? Want to feel like you’re throwing a party? These casual-chic spreads are designed for any number of people to share—and they’re super easy to make as well.
“Install a pot rack so you can store pots and pans, and hang herbs and flowers to dry out,” says Ginny Macdonald, principal and founder of Ginny Macdonald Design. “They not only look good, but they’ll smell really fragrant.” This will also help save your countertops from unnecessary clutter, which is even more important if you’re in a small space.
Powder-coated steel gives this rack a polished feel, while the grid and hooks allow your pots and pans to be displayed with ease.
Made from crafted, recycled wood, this wall rack has buckets of varying sizes so you can store whatever knickknacks you desire.
Featuring a modern, stainless steel display with a revolving design, this is an easy way to store tons of spices for all your cooking needs. And access them all without causing an avalanche in your pantry.
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