The kitchen is often said to be the heart of the home, so it's a shame when they feel, well, heartless. Although it's a work space, a kitchen is more than the sum of its functional parts. Make sure yours works for you and reflects your style with these tips for customization in the kitchen.
Try the hardware switcheroo.
It's an easy change to make (and maybe a cop-out on a post like this), but it's surprising to me how many people just don't bother. Boring, dated and just plain ugly hardware abounds in kitchens the world over, and it's so simple to change them out for something that makes your heart sing. For example, the above kitchen by designer Sarah Sherman Samuel would of course still be lovely with plain hardware, but it's kicked up 10 notches with brushed brass pulls.
Add a surprise splash of color.
I can understand not wanting your kitchen (which is a work space, after all), to look like a kaleidoscope of color. But a secret splash of it whenever you open a cupboard? That's a beautiful thing. Valspar's Sea Swell is a welcome jolt in A Beautiful Mess' mid-renovation all-white kitchen. On a recent project of mine, we painted the insides of the cupboards a vibrant teal, which went perfectly with the reserved navy on the outsides.
Display with discretion.
No, I'm not about to prescribe open shelving as a look that works for every one and every kitchen; it can get messy, and is probably best left for the most fastidious tidiers among us. But I think displaying certain beautiful, personal and useful items makes a space feel unique (for actress Ellen Pompeo, who's home shown above was featured in Architectural Digest, that meant parading her luscious collection of copper cookware). Maybe you have some vintage pottery you're proud of, or a collection of joke tea towels. Decide what makes your kitchen yours and show it off.
Art and lighting are your custom-look friend.
At the end of the day, there are only so many ways for a functional kitchen to look. You'll have cabinets (most likely white, wood or painted a neutral shade), maybe a tiled floor, a backsplash. Lighting and art are really your best opportunities to add personality to this room. Pot lights may be practical, but central or over-island pendants bring interest, and ditto for art on the walls. Andy Warhol's Hamburger print is the showstopper in the above kitchen, via Vogue.
Make room for your kitchen hobby.
What's your favorite thing to make in the kitchen? Think about your habits, and make sure that they're supported by the layout or contents of your space. For me, that means a marble section of countertop for pastry making; it could also mean a pot filler tap by the stove, a shelf of cookbooks or a dog bed under the island. If coffee is life to you, try a custom java station, like this one we spotted on Casa Original.