The kitchen is the engine room of the home and like many of you I’m sure, we spend most of our time as a family in the kitchen. In fact, that is one of the main reasons we wanted to switch the rooms around last year – it didn’t make sense us all cramming into our tiny kitchen and rarely using the large spacious living room we had. It’s not just a place to cook, but where we gather at the end of our day, invite friends over, complete homework and of course sit round and eat together. So while the kitchen has got to meet many practical needs, ultimately the decor is what makes it feel like a great place to be.
I absolutely love our open plan kitchen. It feels spacious and light and easy to move around. I’ve made sure that it is super practical with oodles of storage and a well planned out layout with great appliances but it’s also jam packed with my personality, and this is what delivers the magic. Embracing my love of pattern and colour on the cabinets, on the walls and in all the little styling details means it feels integrated withe the rest of the house and brings me joy in spades!
Kitchens are not merely functional spaces but should be warm and welcoming places too. There are easy ways to make them feel more comfortable, cosy and full of personality – and it doesn’t need to involve changing up the whole kitchen if you’re not in a position to do so. Here are some of the ways I love to give a kitchen some personality:
Wallpaper can be a little divisive in the kitchen, but if your room is well ventilated there is no reason why it shouldn’t work. In a room that can be all hard shiny surfaces, it provides some pattern that helps soften the room, acting as a lovely contrast to all the hard lines from the cupboards and worktops. There are so many great designs available now too, many of which are easier to hang and some that can even be removed without damaging the walls – which is great for renters.
I’d choose a pattern that sums up your personal style. and suits your house too. Anything from a country floral to an Art Deco inspired geometric depending on your preference. A few tips though. Avoid hanging wallpaper in areas where it is likely to mark, stain or get damaged- the area behind the hob and sink are obvious, but also behind the bin or dog bowls for example. If you are worried about your walls getting marked a couple of coats of decorators varnish will help a matt paper become wipeable and more robust. A heavily patterned paper will hide a multitude of sins, as will a paper with a dark background. I’ve wallpapered my last two kitchens and the paper has held up brilliantly.
Loved by builders, hated by designers; the controversial spot light is always a bone of contention. I know it’s not fashionable to say, but I do feel they serve a purpose especially if you live in a house with low ceilings like I do. The main piece of advise I have for you here is not to arrange them in a grid! Position the spot lights to actually illuminate the area required. So for example position over the sink, hob, worktop or walkway.
However, spotlight or not, there are other ways you can bring character into your kitchen with decorative lighting. You won’t always want a big bright light, so consider where you might want softer light in the evenings – this is particularly important if your kitchen is open plan. I personally love a lamp on the work top or add a beautiful wall light if you don’t want to lose worktop space. You can either go for a fabric lampshade to provide some colour and pattern (if its positioned away from the cooking area) , or opt for a rattan or natural weave shade which adds some lovely texture amongst all the hard surfaces.
As you know I absolutely love a window treatment and the curtains in our kitchen/diner are some of my favourite yet. They make a striking statement and provide a lovely frame to the view of for the garden outside. You may not have space or indeed the right style window for curtains and instead need something for a smaller window, in which case a roman blind or cafe curtains are great at introducing pattern and softness. For an extra bit of detail you can ask a seamstress to customise with a scalloped edge, a trim or contrast lining,. Or even a co ordinating bow as I have done. Lean into your decor style and apply the details to suit the look.
So much styling fun to be had with open shelves! Don’t assume that a fitted kitchen has to include wall to wall units. Even if you need cupboards to provide enough storage for the things you don’t want to display, please find a small area for open shelves. Having a kitchen full of wall cupboards can make the room feel small and imposing whereas open shelving provides ample opportunity for styling and faffing, but more importantly will help bring some personality into the room as you can display your favourite pieces. Whether that be a photo frame, vase of fresh flowers, some beautiful plates or pottery, a houseplant or three… it really will open up the space and give it interest and character.
Another positive of removing some wall cupboards is it will give you space for artwork. There is no easier way to express your personality and style preferences than with stunning art, and I do love to see it in the kitchen, as its so unexpected. Art work can provide some of that colour, pattern and a style that brings interest to your walls with real impact. A natural wood or aged brass frame will also provide some texture – small details which all together help to make the room feel more considered. I’d really encourage you to invest in something you love as you will be looking at it every day.
Like with bathrooms, kitchens are often dictated by what is necessary like appliances, storage, a sink etc all of which need to be ‘new’ or ‘newish’. I think adding something vintage or second-hand always helps a room to feel more grounded, relaxed and authentic. Too much ‘newness’ can make it feel like a show room, and lacks warmth and personality. Materials which help to soften the look include aged wood, vintage furniture like an old farmhouse table, dresser or sideboard. But on a smaller scale, a vintage plate or aged terracotta plant pot will also do the trick.
Another controversial item in the kitchen, but if you want to warm up your floor, both literally and aesthetically, it may be worth considering a rug or runner. There are a lot of washable designs available now at varying price points from Ruggable, to Dunelm or Benuta. I got this vintage kilim rug from That Rebel House who are amazing at sourcing beautiful colourful vintage rugs that tie in with your colour scheme. I absolutely love it as it breaks up all the practical but beige limestone tiles, and pulls the colour of the walls down onto the floor, making the room look really coherent. It’s not washable but nothing that my Dyson can’t handle to keep it looking pristine.
And lastly it’s always important to have fun and flex your creativity. Kitchen’s don’t have to be boring and adding something ‘unexpected’ always provides an interesting talking point. Whether it be in the form of artwork or playful lighting, lining drawers or cupboards with wallpaper, changing up your hardware or light switches, creating a stylish display on a shelf or painting the inside of a cupboard or pantry with a colour that really pops, there are so many ways you can add personality to the kitchen. Sometimes all it takes is a small tin of paint and some imagination!