Kitchen Decorating Ideas

©Knight Photography Adding an island is a great way to expand kitchen workspace.

A kitchen is a place where memories are made. Eying a child's first drawing, opening a perfect report card, or making an engagement announcement often occur to the tune of a whistling kettle. It's not surprising that a workable, pleasing kitchen is one of a home's top-selling attractions and a pleasure for all who frequent it.

To accommodate the ebb and flow of family and friends, a good layout is essential. While you might like having company, you don't want them underfoot. Instead, there should be well-defined traffic routes and a zone where the chef functions undisturbed.


How many people cook at one time (experts advise 48 to 54 inches of space for one person to pass safely behind another), children's ages, and any special needs family members have should all be taken into consideration.

There are four basic kitchen layouts:

  • The galley shape with two walls of appliances squaring off opposite each other
  • The L-shape that locates the three main elements (sink, stove, and refrigerator) along two perpendicular walls forming a natural triangle
  • The U-shape that puts the elements on three walls
  • The G-shape, which is essentially a U-shape with a fourth wall (which could be a handy peninsula) to provide room for more counter space, cabinetry, and appliances.

For efficiency, consider the classic work triangle formula according to how it coincides with the configuration you choose. Two work areas -- one for cooking, the other for serving and clearing, each with a sink -- is also a popular strategy.

In this article, you'll learn about a number of kitchen decorating styles, including:

Cultivating a Vintage Look

There are many new options for older homes when it comes to redecorating a kitchen. Cabinetry, appliances, and wall-covering with vintage flair allow you to create a new kitchen with a custom vintage feeling to maintain the look and feel of your classic home.

Using Bold Colors

Use bold colors to make a statement in your kitchen, but choose and integrate colors wisely so that they have the most impact.

Integrating Wood in Kitchen Decor

Rely on wood's natural texture, look, and feel to make your room look bright and clean.

Southwestern Styling

Bold colors style techniques used in the open kitchens of New Mexico develop a warm look and feel for your kitchen.

Comfortably Casual

Kitchen decor that welcomes guests and provides a feeling of coziness to family is an essential element to any home. Learn the tricks to adding an element of comfort to your kitchen.

Clean and Neat

Creating ample storage, yet giving your kitchen an open look and feel, can be a challenge. Find tips to streamline design and maximize storage in your kitchen.

Stainless Steel Ideas

Stainless steel is an extremely popular choice for appliances, but there are other ways to incorporate it into the look of your kitchen. Find ideas to help you creatively use stainless steel in your kitchen.

Restaurant Styling

Want a kitchen that's as elegant and functional as an upscale eatery? Use this contemporary kitchen to get ideas for adding an element of sophistication to your own kitchen.

The Vintage Look

Whether you want a fully updated -- yet authentically vintage -- kitchen, or just want to use vintage details to give your kitchen character, you can find inspiration in the vintage look of this kitchen.

Chef's Kitchen

A place for everything, and everything in its place -- that's the motto of the Chef's Kitchen. With storage for every conceivable appliance, tool, or utensil, the kitchen can be an organizational dream. Find useful ideas to keep your own kitchen looking good and running smoothly.

Adding Color

A dash of color can provide your kitchen with a lively personality boost. Find out how to get the most dramatic effect by adding color to your kitchen.­

Modern kitchens maintain their clean look by providing a niche for every element. Cabinet manufacturers feature hundreds of options including clever interior fittings for silverware, appliance garages (great for taking advantage of deep corners), and custom panels for disguising appliances. In general, cherry- or mahogany-paneled and glass-front doors afford traditional appeal.

Blonde wood, laminate, metal, and new options like mesh inset panels are typical of contemporary rooms. Oak or maple raised panel doors that are painted or stained say country.

Be ingenious about finding extra inches. Attempt to have 12 inches of landing space on either side of any cooking surface as a safety feature. If there's no room for an island, what about extending the counter to accommodate stools? Will a built-in folding table that extends when you need it and drops down when you don't provide a roost? Also, consider pullout work surfaces for various chores.

Extend a row of cabinets into the breakfast area to visually link the areas and to gain storage. Repeating a surface, laminate on the counter-tops and the tabletop in the bay lends cohesion, so will echoing tile or wallpaper colors in cushions and curtains. Forgo upper cabinets to render a cramped kitchen more open.

Glass-door cabinets -- like all gleaming surfaces -- help bounce light around and keep a kitchen looking sunrise-fresh. To capture light from an adjoining dining room or enclosed porch, install French doors. And consider knocking down the wall to a room that's rarely used to create a convenient pantry.

©Knight Photography Glass cabinet doors reflect light and make your kitchen gleam.

White appliances continue to rule, but black and stainless steel are close behind. Many homeowners opt to blend refrigerators and dishwashers with cabinetry, but appliances can also be used to garner attention. A commercial-style stainless-steel refrigerator takes on a sculptural quality in a sun-washed modern kitchen.

There are several ways to give your contemporary kitchen a nostalgic twist. Get great vintage decorating tips in the next section.

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Cultivating a Vintage Kitchen Look

©Knight Photography The dark-stained farmhouse table may exude old-fashioned appeal, but it's a modern-day workhorse.

Who said old and new can't mix? Take the best of what you love from the past and partner it with all of today's amenities for a kitchen that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

That's exactly what happened in this attractive New Mexico kitchen. The painted white cabinets, the stainless-steel counter-tops, and the geometric range hood place the room squarely in the 21st century. But the charming island -- a look-alike for an antique farmhouse table -- defies the too-new label.


So do the bin pulls and the stretch of low-key wood counter that surrounds the auxiliary sink.

©Knight Photography Two floating shelves in lieu of upper cabinets are modern choices for storage.

The warm brick floor and the ceiling beams are traditional, but the mood is definitely not your elder's kitchen with ruffled curtains and pot holders. In step with the times, this room assigns each piece of equipment its own resting spot and affords the chef room to work.

It's an all-business attitude with a touch of nostalgia, and it will feel just right if you're straddling the divide between classic and contemporary.

Vibrant colors in the kitchen can wake up your family every morning. The decorating tips in the next section will teach you how to add bold colors to your kitchen without overpowering it.

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Using Bold Colors in Kitchen

©Knight Photography White countertops include confetti-like sprinkles of color similar to those on the cabinets.

Enlarged by six welcome feet, this kitchen was given a new identity. With wooden beams overhead, the room was already on its way to being warm and welcoming. This newly decorated kitchen has become a colorful, engaging place that wakes the family every morning.

Maintaining the essence of a modern New Mexico home, vibrant colors -- cobalt blue, turquoise, red, purple, and cantaloupe -- were chosen. Against stainless-steel appliances, such retro choices make for a very special, and definitely not boring, kitchen.


Right in the middle, a generous-size island holds sway with its confetti-sprinkled top, affording a place for grabbing a bite or just hanging out. Storage, situated around the room, helps the setting stay orderly. But, it's the wonderful color that makes the room so charismatic and endearing to visitors, enticing them to stay.

©Knight Photography The wide island offers storage and provides room for a sink and a work space.

For a more earthy look, consider adding decorative wood to your kitchen. Read the next section for advice on integrating wood into your kitchen décor.

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Integrating Wood in Kitchen Decor

©Michael Blevins The unadorned wood stove hood is effective in its simplicity.

Shaker-like knotty pine cabinetry with dark molding helps build a home-sweet-home feeling for the kitchen of a spacious house with barn-like proportions. Combined with a wood ceiling overhead and a wood floor, the pine doors and simple black wrought-iron pulls and knobs foster updated traditional country charm without being overly cute.

The gleaming commercial-style stove is highlighted with a back-splash of earthy-hued, oversize tiles and a set of glass-front cabinets. But the other appliances, like the refrigerator, are tucked behind matching panels.


Enhancing the kitchen's pull-up-a-stool appeal is the well-planned island that elbows around the work zone without stopping traffic at either end. To avoid monotony, the counter's front is wainscoted and painted green to match the cabinet trim. Another thoughtful idea? The counter's raised height concealing a lower counter and sink where dirty dishes might end up.

©Michael Blevins The desk area uses the same knotty pine cabinetry as the rest of the space.

In the next section, we'll show you photos of a sunny Santa Fe kitchen and tell you how you can incorporate Southwestern details into your own kitchen.

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Southwestern Kitchen Styling

©Knight Photography The island's rich green legs complement the hutch.

With the rough-hewn timbers and plaster ceiling above, you'd know you were in the Southwest. But, no doubt about it, strong Arts and Crafts undertones are also present in this sunny kitchen located in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The room is simple and unadorned so the artisanship and the elements can stand out. At the very heart of the design, the two-level island forges a sitting spot as well as work space.


The microwave slips in here at a level for the kids to make a snack. And the granite top and auxiliary sink are an everyday boon for prepping and cooking.

But it's the slender furniture-style legs that rocket the island out of the ordinary. Painted deep rich green, the legs complement the tall green hutch that guards the door.

Adding the hutch tones down the modernity of the hard-edged granite and stainless steel. The natural red birch floor is a peacemaker, pulling the factors congenially together.

Want a simple, down-to-earth kitchen that epitomizes casual comfort? If so, try the decorating tips in the next section.

To get more decorating ideas as well as tips and information on decorating your home, visit:


Comfortably Casual Kitchen

©Jeff Heatley Photography The tiny granite breakfast bar welcomes early-morning or late-night visitors.

Some kitchens -- and this is one -- have "home" written all over them. As cheerful as a cookie jar, this room evokes an upbeat, sunny mood with just a few splashes of bright color and a whole lot of traditional cabinetry.

Most of the appliances stay hidden behind matching panels, giving the space a more finished, clean-lined look. Still, from the vibrant-colored pottery on the open shelves to the fabrics, this is a place geared for nurturing: It has good food, a comfy window seat, and interesting nooks and corners, like a mini-breakfast bar for snacks.


©Jeff Heatley Photography Wall ovens accomplish multiple cooking chores simultaneously.

Adjoining an elegant great room with a fireplace, the kitchen maintains a more simple, down-to-earth demeanor. The wood floor may connect the two spaces, but their personalities are vastly different. Think cocktails by the handsome hearth and hot chocolate with marshmallows in this totally inviting kitchen.

©Jeff Heatley Photography Beadboard cabinet fronts and bin-pulls help deliver a traditional feel for the spacious room.

Looking for a less traditional, more streamlined kitchen? Find inspiration in the clean and neat kitchen design in the next section.

To get more decorating ideas as well as tips and information on decorating your home, visit:


Clean and Neat Kitchen

The granite tabletop matches the counters.

Throwing standard formulas to the wind, this clean and neat kitchen was designed to be tidy and practical. With that in mind, utilitarian steel shelving is combined with contemporary flat-front cabinetry.

The steel shelves house the microwave, extra dishes, and less frequently used pieces while the cabinets keep everyday necessities and food supplies close at hand.


Shelving units like these are a proven method to keep a kitchen looking open.

Stainless-steel storage units such as these are convenient and easy to install. To make use of every bit of storage, cookbooks are filed on top of the cabinets for quick reference.

With counter space provided on both sides of the narrow room, the cook has a choice of where to work. Or two people -- despite the kitchen's diminutive size -- can work smoothly together.

When the cook requires more room for a project such as making jam or holiday cookie-decorating, the durable table can be used as a work surface. The granite counter is good for salad-fixing and dough-rolling.

Instead of matching models, the appliances were chosen based on the room's palette of white, cream, and gray. Even though the varying colored items may seem to be sporadically placed in order to tie the room together with color, they are put in positions of convenience.

A single painting sets the neutral colors in motion.

The refrigerator sits contentedly across from the stainless-steel range, with the sink close by. A small dining table and chairs provide a stopover for meals. Or -- weather permitting -- you can easily grab a plate of food and head outside to dine alfresco.This kitchen incorporates stainless steel in the shelving, stove, and even the back-splash. If you like the look of stainless steel, but need a little inspiration, see the next section to get some original ideas.

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Stainless Steel Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Honey-colored cabinets and a pale-tiled floor brighten the scene.

The bones of this California kitchen were fine. A functional layout was also in place. But what was missing was personality. Today, remodeled with simple wood cabinets and new stainless-steel appliances and other accents, the light-washed room has a fresh-as-a-daisy aura.

The professional range brings it up to speed in the cooking department, and the cabinetry imbues it with a shipshape tone.


Plenty of stone countertop on either side of the range provides the cook with ample work space even when the kitchen is filled with people. Strategically located track lighting also adds to the room's new appeal.

However, what really sets it apart is the stainless-steel-top dining table, which will seat a dozen guests. This space was created for a casual lifestyle, so the best dinner parties transpire in the kitchen.

Light-toned chairs with comfortable seats keep the setting looking open. When a group is expected, more chairs are easily added.

The symmetrical arrangement of rippled-glass-front cabinets on either side of the range escalates the tidy ambiance.

Aiming for a modern look, decoration is minimal. A wall clock fills the gap above the range perfectly, its round shape being an excellent foil for the boxy cabinets on either side. Time flies, it seems, in this kitchen.Want a kitchen that's as contemporary as this one, but with the feel of an upscale eatery? Find ideas for an invitingly elegant kitchen in the next section.

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Restaurant Style Kitchen Decor

The upper cabinet's glass doors enhance the kitchen's light.

Reservations, please! This contemporary kitchen with restaurant styling is all shiny surfaces, and they're inviting. Gleaming black counters and unadorned wood are classic partners on a modern menu.

Should you crave a room of this caliber, think out of the box. Use curves rather than corners, for instance, at the cabinet's end. Mimic those curves with a weighty round pillar. And, shape your counter into a circle -- like the table at your favorite restaurant.


Keep in mind, country stools at this dining establishment are not allowed. Instead, search out modern-looking seats, and then go one better and award them plush coverings of color: purple, red, or gold.

Hardware is all but eliminated in the narrow cooking zone. Shiny stainless-steel wall ovens are one bit of glimmer -- and they just happen to be practical, too.

Gone undercover, the fridge is well situated between the cook-top and the ovens.

A glass-block window and vertical blinds on glass doors agree with this sort of elegant Euro look more than curtains or drapes. A peninsula of cabinets -- some high, some low -- provides storage and counter space.

The pièce de résistance? The stone tile with different colors and gradations gives that extra bit of spice.

While this kitchen is elegant and completely contemporary, you may find decorating inspiration in vintage styling, as well. See the next page to explore a vintage -- yet completely updated -- kitchen design.

To get more decorating ideas as well as tips and information on decorating your home, visit:


Vintage Kitchen Decorating

White brick tiles -- easy to clean and long-lasting -- are classic fixtures in vintage kitchens.

Sure, nostalgia has its place. But with today's busy pace, you want a kitchen that also functions up to speed. With a sea of easy-to-clean white brick tiles and a skirted island that has its own make-a-salad or fix-a-drink sink, this could be the one!

A quiet beige and white theme harks back to a simpler time. The deep farmhouse sink is up to almost any chore you hand it -- even the complex ones. A second sink, on the island, resembles an antique bowl. And the restored cooking range may look old, but be assured it performs like a pro.


Arranged in its own arched alcove -- accompanied by a small adjunct table with a butcher-block top -- the range is the focal point of the room. The range's chrome accents also tie in beautifully with the stainless-steel fridge.

The breakfast nook adds even more personality to this charming vintage kitchen.

While the cook wields the pots and pans, guests can assemble on the cozy, comfy banquette. The large square table easily accommodates a hungry crowd.

The walls of the breakfast room are upholstered. The crisscross ribbons hold an ever-changing roster of photographs to provoke lively conversation around the table. Two square ottomans on wheels roll up next to the banquette when extra seats are required. The simple hanging lamp is just right for a candle.

Want a kitchen that's professional enough for a chef, yet friendly enough for your home? See the next page to get ideas for an efficient and cheerful white kitchen.

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Chef's Kitchen

This bright white kitchen is fit for a gourmet chef.

Any top chef would warm to this light-filled, efficient kitchen. White cabinetry and brick tile enhance a clean, open feel conducive to cooking.

With an abundance of counters and a large sturdy table that can perform as a work surface or a dining spot, it's easy to prepare an intimate dinner or a celebratory feast for friends.

In close proximity to the table, the well-lit counter to the right is used as a serving station and bar. A second sink located here prevents family and friends from lining up at the main sink across the way.

and appli­ance garages for smaller tools.
Cabinetry includes a micro­wave

Stainless-steel cabinets on both sides of the businesslike range are stocked with the chef's favorite spices and oils so he can quickly grab what he needs without moving from his command position. A pot spigot is ideal for filling pasta pots right at the range -- thus saving more steps.

Traditional cabinets surround the room on three sides and feature a variety of storage options. Maximizing the efficiency of the cooking zone, cabinetry is set above and below the counters. The deep drawers could slide out with a slight tug to reveal pots, pans, and lids. Smaller drawers could hold cooking utensils.

Despite its grand size, the room remains organized. Simple hardware and a wood floor are two more well-thought-out decisions contributing to the kitchen's timeless appeal.

While this kitchen is white with neutral accents, adding color is a surefire way to spice up the look of any room. See the next page for ideas on adding color to your kitchen.

To get more decorating ideas as well as tips and information on decorating your home, visit:

Single Color Kitchen Decor

A pair of stools and a small granite counter are perfect for a shared moment.

Blue-as-the-Mediterranean tiles transform a small city kitchen into a larger-than-life superstar!

Selecting the same color tiles for walls and floor -- and coupling them with a plain white ceiling for contrast -- produces a much more dramatic effect than would just one method without the other. Against the heady blue background, the white cabinets and appliances snap to their best attention.

The plain-front Euro-style cabinets won't settle for ordinary either, though. Two clear fronts break up the sameness and keep the cabinetry from appearing top-heavy.

The little island comes across as dainty (thanks to its pristine white base), but it's also a very accessible work area for the cook. On the cook's side of the island, pullout drawers could contain table utensils and linens.

A cozy eat-in area makes great use of the available space.

Off in the corner out of harm's way, there's a quiet location for a good-size breakfast table and four chairs. Light-collecting glass doors have intriguing accents of blue and yellow to complement the kitchen's blue color scheme, while the black table and chairs echo the tile's dark grout lines.

Cleverly designed soffits focus light on all the right places so no one's ever in the dark. To maintain the unfettered look, a simple white blind dresses the kitchen window.

Whether you like casual, vintage, colorful, wood, or even Southwestern styling, this article's decorating tips can help you transform your kitchen into the room of your dreams. Use the tips we've presented, or mix and match them to create your own unique kitchen style.

To get more decorating ideas as well as tips and information on decorating your home, visit: