The kitchen is an essential part of any home. From late-night snacks to four-course meals the kitchen space is where we feed our stomachs and our loved ones. It’s also a go-to when it comes to personal storage—where else could you simultaneously store your favorite linens and that pumpkin-shaped Le Creuset cast iron you love so much?
To make your kitchen’s aesthetic match its importance, you can update its look. Whether you’re an avid chef or an instant noodle aficionado, a modern, well-designed cooking space is something to appreciate.
Let’s look at six kitchen decor ideas to spice up your cooking area—even if you’re only using it to reheat take-out.
1. Say Goodbye to Cupboards and Hello to Open Shelving
Open shelving is an excellent alternative to the imposing silhouette of wall-mounted kitchen cabinets. By installing complementary wood or metal shelves along the kitchen wall above your counters, you create a storage space for dishes that doubles as a display area.
Even better, it’s easier than ever to grab an extra bowl while cooking. No more greasy-handed fumbling with the cabinet doors when you have open shelves.
As with all open shelving, maintaining a clean, aesthetically pleasing storage design is key to keeping your kitchen looking state-of-the-art, which means you may have to take some time for some kitchen-centric spring cleaning.
If you can’t bear to get rid of your grandmother’s serving tray, but its floral design clashes with your modern aesthetic, consider investing in a storage unit to give your miscellaneous valuables a home away from home.
2. Make a Splash with Your Backsplash
Similar to all the rules on how to decorate a bathroom, when it comes to modern kitchen decor, it’s all about the backsplash. While it was first designed to protect walls from water splashing back from the sink (hence the name), modern backsplashes are largely decorative, though they still fulfill their original purpose.
Backsplashes can run the gamut from sophisticated white marble to colorful tiles. Depending on the style of your kitchen, the right backsplash will either blend in or boldly stand out. Some of the best modern backsplashes do the latter; black-and-white checkered tiles and dark blue mosaics come to mind against white or lightly-colored kitchen walls.
3. Live the Island Life
Kitchen islands and counter space deserve all the praise they receive. They provide extra counter space to eager chefs, they act as a convenient table for coffee and quick breakfasts, and they separate the kitchen from the living room and the rest of the house without excluding the cook.
Plus, they provide ample storage space, whether you’re looking for extra drawers for your pots and pans or looking for a convenient locale to store your favorite bottles of wine. Of course, if you have a wine collection akin to Napa Valley, a climate-controlled wine storage space may be more your style.
If your home doesn’t have a kitchen island, you can easily upgrade your kitchen with a standard rectangular shape. Or, consider how much more your cooking space will stand out with a curved or circular island.
If you already have an island and need to spruce it up, there are countless ways to do so, including:
- Covering the kitchen countertops and sides in marble
- Incorporating a sink, stove, or oven into the island
- Using multiple materials for the kitchen countertops
4. Don’t Shy Away from Color
Perhaps because kitchen appliances tend to be neutral-colored, you’ll often see all-white cupboards and matching countertops. But instead of coordinating your kitchen cabinets to your fridge, you can take a more colorful approach.
Just like how color comes into play for how to decorate a bedroom, color in the kitchen brings out the liveliness of the activities that take place there. And you don’t have to go wild with purple cabinets to incorporate color into the room. Choosing a single interior design accent color and peppering it around the kitchen will create visual interest.
Need some interior design inspiration? Kitchen décor themes like Mediterranean or Nautical rely heavily on blue decor accents, while boho kitchens burst with green and orange decor accents.
5. Let There Be Light
The right lighting can make a kitchen truly shine. Here are some kitchen ideas on ways to play with light:
- Under-cabinet lighting – Mounting light strips to the bottom of your white cabinets is an excellent way to add ambient light.
- Hanging lights – The classic approach to island lighting. With endless styles to choose from, you can decorate any way you like.
Stylish lights are more than just a design choice, too—they’re also a safety feature. A well-lit small kitchen is a well-run small kitchen, and bright lighting ensures the only thing getting sliced and diced is that beautiful clove of garlic.
6. Increase Seating Space
While the kitchen is a place to work on the night’s meal, it’s also a place to entertain. The more seating you have, the easier it is to host a soirée while preparing food—after all, most parties seem to gravitate toward the kitchen anyway.
To add seating space, you can:
- Set up a row of bar stools along the island
- Place a small table or bench in the middle of an open concept kitchen
- Install banquette seating against the wall
- Put a velvet divan near the mouth of the kitchen
These options help make cooking a more social event, allowing guests to chip in or stay and chat.
Clear Up Space During Your Kitchen Makeover
Some kitchen projects—like installing lighting—won’t take more than a day. But when you tackle a complete renovation, you’ll likely have to spend a few weeks or more in a culinary construction zone.
To free up as much space as possible, consider using a storage unit as a temporary measure. If you are wondering what size storage unit you need, refer to our storage size guide.
NPR. Like Moths To A Flame: Why Modern-Day Guests Always Gather In The Kitchen. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/12/22/678952170/like-moths-to-a-flame-why-modern-day-guests-always-gather-in-the-kitchen