Kitchen Decorating 101

I’m back with another post in the room decorating 101 series! While I’m not a design expert, I have learned a lot over the last 6 years about how to (and how not to!) bring a space together.

The plan is to tackle a different room in the house every month, so by the end of the year, you’ll have a comprehensive guide to decorating the home of your dreams.Kitchen decorating 101

Last time, I gave you the ins and outs on decorating a living room. Today’s topic? Kitchen decorating 101!

Kitchen Decorating 101

Kitchen decorating 101

Let me say that when it comes to decorating there aren’t any exact rules! Every space, home, and family is different so my words are not the end-all, be-all for decorating a space. Instead, I hope these insights can guide you as you consider your layout, large purchases, and how to bring the entire look together. No judgment, I just want to help as much as I can!

The kitchen is a little different from the other rooms covered in the 101 series because you’re not really buying lots of furniture for this space or reconfiguring the layout (unless you’re undergoing a renovation). In today’s post, I want to give you kitchen decorating tips for your current space. So even if you don’t love your kitchen layout and have plans to do a renovation in a few years, you can still take away some tips on how to work with what you’ve got! Let’s get to it!

Kitchen DosFramed recipe cards in the kitchen

Decorate with Personal Items – When it comes to decorating the kitchen, of course, you’ll start with lots of functional items. Teapots, towels, cookbooks, etc. But be sure to add in some personal touches like framed recipe cards of your family’s favorites or artwork that really speaks to you! Adding a vintage rug to the kitchen

Add a Runner – You might be nervous to add a rug to your kitchen space and I totally get it! It’s scary to buy something that will inevitably see spills and crumbs. But a rug can add so much warmth and color to your kitchen, not to mention it will be nice on your feet when standing in there cooking. You can go with a vintage rug (more details on them here!) because they hide stains, or opt for a durable jute rug! When in doubt, add a kitchen runner!kitchen shelves with herbs

Think Through Open Shelving – Open shelving is a big decision for a kitchen and it certainly isn’t for everyone. We dove deep into this topic in this post, and Bridget ultimately decided that open shelving was the right choice for her kitchen makeover. Think through this choice and consider your lifestyle before adding shelves to your kitchen.

Gold hardware on a gray kitchen cabinet

Splurge on Hardware – If you’re not in love with your kitchen right now, it might be a good idea to swap out the hardware. This is an incredibly easy switch and it can transform the look of your kitchen. Even if you can’t afford a brand new kitchen, spending a little extra on new knobs and pulls can make a big difference. Rejuvenation is a favorite of mine for kitchen hardware.How to organize a pantry

Organize your Pantry – I’m still obsessed with the pantry makeover we did in my mom’s condo. It’s amazing how much joy this closet now brings us both! This took us one afternoon and we only had to purchase a few new containers and baskets. Consider giving your pantry some TLC to make your kitchen feel more streamlined and put together. Cut soap dispensers

Make a Statement at the Sink – Repeat after me…I deserve to have a cute soap dispenser! There’s no reason you should display ugly plastic soap dispensers in your kitchen. Instead, make a statement near your sink. Upgrade to a cute scrub brush (love this one), splurge on nice soap (this set in the grapefruit scent is a favorite), and consider glass bottles (love these ones). You can then corral all of those items on a small tray to take it to the next level!

Gray and white kitchen decoratingUpgrade Everyday Items – Just like with the soap dispenser, you can upgrade a few of the other functional items in your kitchen. Add a pop of color with a teapot, find nice salt and pepper shakers, and display your chunky wood cutting board. Ohhh, and one super easy spot to change? Your hand towels! You can buy a pack of good looking ones at HomeGoods for a steal. There’s no reason to display dirty old ones anymore!DIY'ing a kitchen backsplash

Add a Backsplash – A backsplash can make a world of difference in your kitchen and it’s a DIY project you can tackle in a weekend. Find a tile you adore and give it a try! This is one of the easiest projects you can do in your kitchen without renovating completely and it will transform the entire room. Adding an herb garden to the kitchen

Bring in Greenery – The kitchen is a wonderful spot to add in some fresh greenery, especially herbs. Here’s a post with tips on how to keep them alive and thriving. If herbs aren’t for you, consider other plants that you can display (preferably near the sink so you don’t forget to water them!).

Kitchen Don’tsGray and white kitchen

Clutter the Counters – This is the #1 kitchen decorating don’t, yet it’s something I see all.the.time. In fact, there’s even an entire rookie mistake for this design faux pas. Hide that toaster, pare down your 32 spatulas, and streamline your space! Your kitchen will look so much better just by doing this free exercise. Kitchen pendant from Rejuvenation

Forget Lighting – Lighting will make the list for every decorating 101 post I write because it’s so damn important. Make sure you have plenty of lighting in your kitchen. Consider pendants, sconces, under cabinet lighting, and recessed lighting. All of these will work together to create a layered and well-lit kitchen space. Recycle mail immediately

Create a Paper Dumping Ground – What is it about the kitchen that makes it a magnet for unnecessary paperwork? It’s crazy how quickly paper can accumulate in this room. Don’t let this happen to your kitchen! I share all of the tips I follow to reduce our household paper clutter in this post and it really works well for us. Put your toaster in a cabinet

Keep Appliances Out – This corresponds with “don’t over clutter your counters”, but I think it needs to be repeated. Take a look at all of the appliances on your countertops and figure out if you really need them out all day long. Is it really that hard to take your toaster out of the cabinet to plug it in? I promise your counters will look better without all of those appliances eating up valuable space. Casey's kitchen stools

Neglect Comfort – This is a kitchen decorating mistake I learned the hard way. See those white stools up above? I loved the look of them but quickly learned that they’re incredibly uncomfortable on the tush. Like seriously, you couldn’t wear shorts and sit on these or else your legs would be branded for the remainder of the day. Not cute. If you want people to gather around your kitchen, then keep comfort in mind when choosing seating. Moen kitchen faucet

Live with An Old Faucet – Changing out a faucet is a DIY project you can tackle in 30 minutes all by yourself. Seriously, there is no need to call a plumber. It only involves a few tools and you can just follow the directions that come with your new faucet (follow our tutorial here). If you hate the look or function of your current faucet, change it! It will be a worthwhile upgrade that will make you a tiny bit happier to do dishes.

Kitchen Decorating – Save vs. SplurgeGray kitchen cabinets

Now, where should you spend the most money when decorating your kitchen? And where can you save a few bucks?

Where to Splurgewhat should I add to my kitchen shelves?

Obviously, the biggest splurge items would come from doing a kitchen remodel, but I’m just focusing on the small tweaks you can make when decorating the space. In that case, I would upgrade the lighting in the room…adding new sconces or swapping out old pendants. I would also invest in new hardware for the cabinets, and consider adding a backsplash (but DIY it to save big bucks!).

Don’t forget fancy dish soap and a nice cutting board. The cutting board serves double duty…it can be used for cutting, but can be propped up against your backsplash or to corral smaller items.

  • Hardware
  • Lighting
  • Backsplash
  • Hand Soap
  • Cutting Board

Where to Save

Jan's kitchen stools

When it comes to accessories, I’m a big fan of not spending lots of money. HomeGoods and Target are my fave spots and they always have on-trend kitchen decor to take your space to the next level.

Rugs kinda work on both the save and splurge list. You can spend a bit more on a vintage rug that will last forever. Or opt for a cheap jute rug that you can replace when it gets bad. Totally up to you and your home!

  • Kitchen Stools
  • Accessories
  • Plants, Herbs, & Planters
  • Kitchen Runner

My Favorite Kitchen Staples

Here are some of the pieces I love to use in a kitchen design.

I hope this post will act as a helpful resource as you tackle your own kitchen decorating. With a few small tweaks, you can create the space of your dreams.


Decorating 101 Series

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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