Kitchen Decoration Inspiration

I agree with the old adage that the kitchen is the heart of the home. This fact, however, makes it one of the most difficult rooms in the house to decorate. To make a space both functional and beautiful, while housing all those cooking tools, dirty dishes, and other debris that build up in this room make it quite the decorating challenge.

It took me so long to get around to finishing my kitchen up when I moved in. First of all, the cabinets were hideous. Up top, I had steel cabinets painted white, while the bottom cabinets were a heavy and dark wood finish. The knobs didn't match either, though I guess the fact that the cabinets themselves didn't match was a larger problem. Then there was the backsplash - a faux (but very very unbelievable) marble laminate that spanned the entire wall behind my sink and stove, and graced the counters as well. A major re-do was in order.

Enter paint, paint, paint! First of all, the cabinets all got a nice coat of a matching paint dark sage color. Then I found matching hardware - just simple black knobs and handles to create a more classic feel. But the real savior of my kitchen was countertop paint. Though there are a few scratches here and there, this paint has held up remarkably well for how thinly it goes on and how much wear and tear it takes. A nice coffee colored paint for the counters really calmed down all the mismatched patterns and resulting confusion that made my kitchen such an eyesore previously.

Luckily, the off-white I used on most of the walls of the room covered the laminate "backsplash," while a deep red accent wall provides just enough color to give the room some life. It truly is amazing how much a little bit of paint can do. But anyone can paint a kitchen and still have a mess. Here are a few more of my ideas for maximizing your space and keeping things organized. The major rule of thumb, everything needs to have a place it belongs. The clincher is being creative about making space.

1. Short on cabinet space? Display some of your groceries decoratively in clear glass jars. My major baking staples (sugar, flour, etc.) are in large glass containers, mixed in among jars of dried beans, pastas, and grains. The jars are a mix between brand new (from Ikea) and old of the Mason and Ball jar variety.

2. Shelving! I installed a shelf above the countertop where most of my food prep work takes place and lined my jars up there for easy access and a bit of visual interest. This frees up a lot of space both in my cabinets and on my countertops. I also installed another shelf for my cookbooks, since these ever-important items take up lots of space but are kitchen essentials. You've got empty walls - make them functional!

3. An easy way to de-clutter your counters when you're cooking a new recipe: a cork board. I keep one just above my main workspace countertop (below the glass jar shelf) and tack whatever recipe I'm using on to it - this way I don't need to worry about losing or dirtying the recipe amongst my ingredients or losing space to it. Everything is easy to view by looking straight ahead. Though you could go out and buy a cork board, you could also make one out of old wine corks (for instructions visit this post) or you could use cork squares that come ready with wall adhesive strips and are smaller than most cork boards.

4. Baskets, baskets, baskets. In all the rooms of my house, I have receptacles for everything. I have traditional baskets, bowls made out of paper, glass bowls covered in fabric, decorative sushi plates, and all sorts of other sites for collecting various items. If it seems that wallets, keys, receipts, notes, etc. are all ending up in disarray throughout your kitchen (or your house), getting some sort of basket or bowl to throw these items in could be a real lifesaver. Even if the other members of your household continue to insist upon emptying their pockets onto the kitchen table, having a place where you can remove all these necessaries to is a great way to keep your kitchen organized and de-cluttered.

5. Keep room-temperature produce around the kitchen. The centerpiece of my small kitchen table is a produce basket. This way I don't have to figure out or spend the money on something else to give my table some life, and my bananas, tomatoes, apples, etc. are right at hand. I also love hanging chain-link basket tiers and it makes storing onions, garlic, potatoes, etc. so much easier. When all of these items are visible, it also makes constructing a grocery list that much easier because I can tell what is and isn't in stock in my kitchen.

6. Windowsill herb gardens are great - as long as you have a well-lit windowsill (something that I, unfortunately, don't have). Keeping those fresh herbs in your kitchen makes them easier to access when you need some fresh additions to your meals. But it is also likely that you'll take better care when you see them multiple times throughout the day - then there is no excuse to not properly water your herbs.

7. A few years ago butcher block islands were all the rage, but I'm still on that bandwagon. If you have the space for an island, these mobile counters are a great way to add some countertop space and some shelving. Even though my tiny little kitchen leaves no room for an actual island, I stow my small butcher block island right next to my other counters and to house all my small kitchen appliances. A microwave and toaster oven fit perfectly atop the butcher block, while the shelves below house my bread machine, food processor, juicer, and a lazy susan carrying my oils, vinegars, and other baking supplies. Even this small added counter and shelving space helps me free up countertop and cabinet space elsewhere.

8. Hang pots and pans, oven mits and pot holders. I use a peg board to easily access these oft-used kitchen items but hanging pots and pans over an island is another popular option. Keeping the things that are used daily in close reach is an easy way to free up cabinet storage and make cooking easier on yourself.

I've learned that giving everything its own space is of the utmost importance in keeping a clean kitchen.  Making it look good doesn't hurt either, and that is where paint plays a huge role. Here are a few more touches in my kitchen that, though not necessarily functional, make it look nicer now that I have the basics covered.

I used vintage napkins in brown and pink (to match my cabinets and accent wall) as simple valance curtains. I simply folded them over a curtain rod and used pins to keep them in place.

Cork boards are a wonderful way to keep all sorts of odds and ends in one place and I like having this one back in the corner. It doesn't assault you with it's overwhelming amount of notes, invites, coupons, etc. because it is tucked away, but it allows me to keep these things visible in a confined area so I don't forget about them all.

Kitchen mats are a great thing. Even if you don't have beautiful hardwood floors or the most current tiling, you can mask ugly floors or simply play up boring flooring by some well chosen kitchen mats. I suggest bamboo or at least something braided and easy to wash, rather than something fluffy that could eat up lots of crumbs.

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