I’ve heard countless times that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And while I don’t entirely disagree with that statement, I have to make an argument for those of us with tiny, outdated, and not always very welcoming kitchens.
I moved in earlier this year, and while I love my new space, the one room I don’t like as much is the open-plan kitchen. Dated wood cabinetry, wood floors, and green countertops are, uh… just OK. I’m currently renting out my house, and while there are plenty of tenant-friendly DIYs I could try, most kitchen projects seem a little daunting and time-consuming. And even if I owned my house, a complete renovation would be expensive. My parents just remodeled their kitchen, and after hearing stories from my mom about all the out-of-stock cabinets, missed deadlines, and stress (not to mention your house temporarily turning into a construction zone), I understand that kitchen renovations can be a lot.
After tackling my own less than perfect kitchen, I’m convinced you can make any space comfortable, no matter the size and shape of the room. If you’re not ready to dive into a renovation or try your hand at a DIY kitchen project, read on for kitchen decorating tips that will make your space feel welcoming and inviting.
Keep it clean and tidy
Keeping your kitchen tidy is more than half the battle if you want your kitchen to be comfortable and well organized. I’m someone who generally has trouble putting dishes away quickly, leaves things on counters, and sometimes even forgets to close cabinet doors (my kitchen looks like a ghost making a sandwich or something). But the magic of a clear sink and clutter-free counters can’t be denied. Every night before I go to bed, I make sure to run the dishwasher, put everything away, and wipe down the counters so that the next morning I’ll be greeted with a spotless kitchen. It definitely makes my morning coffee routine much more enjoyable!
Add comfortable lighting
I can’t stand overhead lighting. It gives me doctor’s office vibes, and since the bulbs are usually cool white (which is the opposite of cozy!), it’s generally not flattering, either to people or to the room itself. I much prefer lamps, and if you think a lamp in the kitchen is weird, please allow me to politely disagree. Adding a mini lamp to your counter can instantly make your kitchen cozy, and Target has tons of choices for just $12. Instead of bright overhead lighting, a lamp fitted with a warm white bulb will give you a softer, eye-friendly glow and the same kind of ambiance as candlelight. I have one right next to my coffee station. Even though I sometimes need to turn on my overhead light, my little lamp is always on and never fails to bring me joy.
Another cozy lighting option is to add puck lights under your cabinets. This kitchen decor hack allows you to achieve the look of under cabinet lighting without the need for an expensive renovation. Simply buy puck lights that come with a remote control and adhesive backing and stick them to the underside of your cabinets. You can turn them on any time of the day, but I think they’re especially comfortable at night. Some types of puck lights even let you adjust the brightness or set an auto-off timer so you don’t have to worry about the batteries running out overnight.
Improve the decor of your kitchen
Decor doesn’t have to be reserved for spaces like the living room and bedroom! For simple kitchen decor, hang framed artwork or photos on the wall or place them strategically on a counter. Arranging fresh or artificial flowers in a vase is another easy option. Even kitchen essentials can serve as decoration. Think colorful tea towels, a glass olive oil dispenser or a pretty container for your wooden cooking utensils. I think of it this way: if it’s on display, it can be decor! And if you already have some nice kitchen items tucked away in a cupboard, why not put them away? I love my collection of coffee mugs, and if your counter space permits, a mug tree is a great way to display them.
Elevate your essentials with risers…
A wooden or ceramic pedestal can instantly transform your hand soap by the sink into a nice little display. Raising — like literally lifting — your kitchen essentials is an easy way to organize and spruce up your countertops without spending a ton of money. Arranging items like your soap dispenser, salt and pepper shakers, and decor like a plant or candle on a pedestal adds a little extra to your kitchen. For example, I display my Amazon Echo Show, which doubles as a digital photo frame and Alexa, on a pedestal, and it looks so much prettier laid down than just sitting on the counter. Who knew something so small could make such a difference!
… or put them on a tray
I never really understood the point of decorative trays until I brought a few home, and now I totally get it. Sure, trays aren’t strictly necessary, but keeping items and decor contained calms my brain and makes everything look nice and organized. In the kitchen, try placing a tray near your stove where you usually store utensils, oils, salt and pepper. Put all of these items on the board, add a plant for some color and notice the difference! The island is another great place to display a tray filled with items like a vase of flowers, a candle, and a bowl of fruit. Pro Tip: Check your kitchen cabinets for extra wooden cutting boards you don’t actually use. Instant platter!
Start an Indoor Herb Garden
Plants and greenery (real or faux!) will add life and comfort to any space, including your kitchen. A herb garden, in particular, is not only beautiful but also practical! I’m definitely that person who buys prepackaged basil at the grocery store, uses a little, then watches the rest shrivel up before I have to throw it away, which is always a shame. Keeping a basil plant alive is a much better option because I can use a leaf or two at a time and the rest of my basil stays fresh, as long as I take care of my little plant. Plus, seeing it every day inspires me to have more homemade pizza nights. It’s a win-win!
Keep baked goods in a cake dome
I’ll admit it’s not an everyday occurrence in my kitchen, but displaying baked goods in a cake dome always makes my kitchen look a little fancier. There’s a reason why bakeries and restaurants cover their pastries and desserts under glass domes: they’re both pretty and practical! I received a glass cake stand as a wedding gift, and while I love it for special occasions, I also pull it out regularly for blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, or pumpkin bread in autumn. A cake dome can also make store-bought items like croissants or bagels a little more special, and you can rest assured that your baked goods will stay fresh for days to come. If you ask me, nothing is more inviting than walking into a kitchen and being greeted by a stack of chocolate chip cookies, nestled under a pretty glass dome.