The 7 Best Kitchen Decorating Tips, According to You—Apartment Therapy Commenters!

published Jun 11, 2020
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Recently, many of you took the time to share your best decorating tips for living rooms and bedrooms with us, sparked by Apartment Therapy stories old and new. Unsurprisingly, you’re talking about kitchens, too—and sharing just as many standout ideas for cook spaces big and small. Here are a handful of our favorite AT commenter kitchen decorating tips.

Be mindful of your wall decor

There’s a lot to love about a gallery wall, but when it comes to the kitchen, cleanliness is of supreme importance. So make sure the stuff you’re putting on the walls won’t become harbingers of grime and germs. Commenter Smee reminded us of this when it came to magazine collages. “Knowing that bugs, roaches particularly, silverfish, and spiders and all their friends LOVE LOVE LOVE these taped up murals would make me think twice about deciding to do this,” Smee writes. This tip rings true with any sort of wall art in the kitchen. Smee’s advice for making the look manageable: “If you absolutely must have this look, please paste it up as wall paper to discourage unwanted ‘roommates.’” You can also follow the lead of Patricia “ChaCha” Garcia and keep your collage on a wall that’s far enough away from your pantry or dry goods storage, which should discourage insects and such as well.

Credit: Federico Paul

Make sure your kitchen is useable—for you

As with many things in your home (and life), you do you and let others do them: Your kitchen—and its materials—don’t have to work for anyone but you. If all white kitchens make you “nervous to even cook in for fear of messing them up,” as commenter Gazelleandcrow writes, that’s totally okay. Choose darker countertops or cabinets that hide mess better and add brighter accents elsewhere.

Glass-front cabinets can be just as effective as open shelves

Open shelving is a great way to lighten up your cook space and give it a clean, airy feel, but this look isn’t for everyone—especially anyone who gets anxious about freestanding stacks of delicate objects. If you fall into that latter camp or just don’t want to be constantly dusting all of your stuff, know that open shelves aren’t the end-all, be-all. In fact, as commenter Pinkiseverythingispink points out, glass-front cabinets can also keep a kitchen from feeling dim and visually heavy. Plus, they provide you most of the other benefits of open shelving, from better accessibility to some semblance of organizational motivation in your cabinets—without as much maintenance.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Maximize your countertop real estate

A common space-saving rule in the kitchen is to only keep appliances you use every day on the counter; the rest are best stowed out of sight in cabinets and cupboards. That’s a good rule of thumb, but as commenter Niks points out, what matters most is finding a system that works for you. “When it comes to that sweet sweet countertop real estate, I like to go with the most-days rule,” Niks writes. “There are few things we truly, honestly, use every single day, without fail, year-round. So it’s hard to tell… basically, if you use something more often than a couple of uses a week, it can go on the counter. Anything else, you will probably appreciate the space it would take up more than having the thing itself out.” 

Credit: Minette Hand

Good lighting is key

The kitchen is where work takes place, often with potentially hazardous tools. So having ample task lighting over your workspace is absolutely essential, commenter Audrey Wessling says. Ensure the spots you use most in the kitchen are well-lit—the sink, the countertops where you do your chopping and cutting, and the like. 

This doesn’t just mean having any lighting—you have to make sure it’s functional. “Impractical light fixtures—I notice this a lot,” commenter GlenEllyn says. “They may look cool and stylish, but too many produce too much glare and not enough good light for the intended task.” Point taken! In general, look for pendants or track lights that direct light downward wherever you prep and cook and use dimmers where applicable, so you can create ambiance for meals without making the rest of your space too dark to work in.

Don’t be afraid to put your prettiest pieces on display

“I am a total fan of hanging pot racks,” commenter Midlilfecrisissexsymbol says. “It’s a lifesaver for our small kitchen and is not only practical but attractive. Plus, it’s much more convenient!” Hanging pots and pans is definitely a great way to save space and add some functional design to your walls. 

That said, this tip is all about what you feel comfortable leaving out in the open. “Hanging pot racks look great, but only if your pots are in pristine condition,” writes commenter Suzy8track. “Mine tend to get used quite a bit and don’t look quite so good for being on display.” That’s a good reminder to make sure you’re displaying things you don’t mind people seeing. If you don’t like the well-loved look, save some cupboard space by hanging your collection of coffee mugs or other utensils you particularly like instead.

Credit: Jess Isaac

Mind your countertop materials

Just as you should find what works for you to hang on your kitchen walls, you should also be careful of what material you choose for countertops if you’re renovating or looking to upgrade. You want something that’s durable, sleek, and easily cleaned. For commenter Pantone18, that means no tiled counters because they’re not a good work surface and hard to clean.

What works for one person may not work for another, so do what is best for you. However, steering clear of things like light colored tile with thin grout lines—or finicky Cararra marble that stains and wears easily—may be in your best interest. If you want tile, consider something darker with darker grout lines, as seen in the pretty kitchen above. The same can be true of white porcelain sinks. The farmhouse apron look is beautiful, but not if you’re constantly worried about chipping it. If you like the look of patinated finishes, then by all means, go for things that will one day have that vintage-inspired, lived in look.

Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!