My kitchen was the first room I wanted to redecorate when Dan and I moved into our Money Pit historic fixer-upper. But it was the last room I actually got to tackle. The cost of a complete kitchen renovation, which is what this poor space needed, isn’t cheap. As I discovered, there is a lot you can do to make your kitchen look sensational – short of remodeling. In fact, by focusing your decorating energies on five key spots, you can make your kitchen a visual treat.
In most homes, the kitchen island is the hub of family life. This is the place you grab a quick bite, do food prep, toss all your stuff when you walk in the door and fill with food and beverage services when you entertain. Like a fireplace in the living room, it’s also a natural focal point in the room. So you need to decorate the island with a display that is minimal enough to accommodate the real life that happens around it, but also fetching enough to give this important spot its decorating due.
I advise building a stunning but shorter display on top of a tray. When the accents are contained in a tray, they won’t get spread out into the hubbub of the island. And the display will be portable, so when you need every inch of the island for homework or a sewing project, you can easily remove it without having to take it apart.
Setting your island for daily life also can be a display in itself.
Above the stove
Your oven and stove can take up a huge chunk of your kitchen, so make this utilitarian spot as fetching as possible. When my friend Anne designed her dream kitchen, she knew she wanted a big stove that could keep up with the mealtime demands of her busy family. She figured out a masterful way to make the stove a lovely addition by incorporating a few interesting features into the blueprint. The ledge above holds a set of mugs from a family collection and serves as a base for a simple but sensational artwork display.
I have to confess that my stove and oven rarely get used. I’m just not a cook, unless you count microwave popcorn. As a result, I get to treat my stovetop more like a display area. To camouflage the griddle on the cooktop, I’ve showcased beautiful silver buffet lids. The built-in shelf holds some serving pieces. Displays flank the stovetop. Above the stove is an arch, which I thought was just screaming for a creative artwork display, so it’s filled with a crazy mix of platters, trays, plates and framed art.
Behind the sink
Think of the little space behind your kitchen sink as a surplus spot where you can add a little decorating flair. It doesn’t have to be much – just a little accent or two that brings in a touch of color or interest. My friend Anne lined up a few petite blue vases behind her sink. She can fill them with blooms from her garden, snips of fresh herbs or seasonal accents. Love it!
Like me, my friend Marsee has a window smack dab behind her sink. And just like she does, I always put something lovely to look at on the sill, like an ivy topiary. Her petite bud vases are the perfect touch – sweet and simple but full of cheer.
Here’s another fun idea: Find an attractive caddy and fill it with all your sink-side essentials, like dish soap, hand soap, hand lotion and scrubbers. Suddenly, that unattractive, utilitarian stuff becomes a design feature.
Ledges and shelves
Oh my goodness but you can have some fun decorating the ledges, shelves and niches in your kitchen. One of my favorite looks is to cluster together cream, white, silver and glass serving pieces and dishes, as my friend Julie did in a cubby above one of her cabinets in her kitchen. If your display is high up, like on top of kitchen cabinets, be sure to pick larger scaled pieces so they don’t get lost.
Lisa showcased her collection of old silver teapots on a ledge above her stove. Interesting transferware platters propped up in easels provide a nice backdrop for this intriguing assortment.
My friend Jean’s kitchen had an unusual oven built into the wall. So when she renovated, she turned it into an adorable fireplace, complete with a hearth ready to decorate. The decor around this unusual focal point is simple and perfect and oozing with charm.
Break up the planes of solid, hard surfaces on your kitchen counters by accenting them with a simple but fetching display. To create this look, lean a piece of artwork against the backsplash. Place a tray holding some interesting accents in front of it, like some jars. Then add balance with a heavier piece on the left, like a ceramic bucket.
In spots where you don’t have a backsplash, build a few freestanding displays. Jean dressed up an empty corner of her counter by using a stack of her beloved cookbooks as an art element. For seasonal flair, add some fresh flowers from your garden.
My favorite countertop displays mix in a variety of heights, shapes and finishes because they are so intriguing.
This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.