by Molly Bradley
Sprucing up your living space is a noble quest — until it gets cluttered. Here’s how to beautify your kitchen with things that serve a purpose other than just looking great.
It’s all too easy to let your kitchen get cluttered. You start with one, or one set, of the utensils and appliances you need: one matching set of forks and knives. One vegetable peeler. One can opener. One set of mixing bowls, each of a different size. One ladle. OK, maybe two spatulas.
And then, suddenly — whether you wind up accumulating pretty additions over time, you move in with roommates, or you combine homes with a partner — you have anywhere between three and nine of everything. And no one wants to be the one to let their stuff go.
With a ton of stuff in your kitchen to make room for, it becomes impossible to even think about arranging things in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing. You’re using all available counter space as storage, and any pretty, decorative things wind up in other rooms, or in a closet somewhere.
So if you want to get your kitchen (back) in order, first things first: you’re going to have to complete the hard task of weeding out unnecessary doubles of everything, and maybe even letting go of a few things that you bought but never actually use. (Admit it: you probably have a friend or family member more likely to use that pasta maker than you are.)
Then you can start to think about how you want your kitchen to look — as in, turning it into a room that’s not just a kitchen, but a pleasant place to be. Especially if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen cooking, or your kitchen merges with your living room in an open floor plan, it’s worth making it a space that feels good.
So how do you do this without adding a ton of unnecessary clutter? One way: own as many things as possible that are useful or even necessary kitchen utensils, but that also look really good. It doesn’t take that many individual items, either: it can be as simple as having complementary utensil holders, serving utensils, and a salt cellar that create a theme in your kitchen.
Copper utensils by Beautifull Served by Jill
Once you have some kind of consistent color or material scheme, you can start to add accents that either match it, or create interesting other themes and layers that look good with it. So, for example, buy a set of dish towels (a relatively inexpensive way to add a shock of color and some life to your kitchen) that complement those core decorative (and functional!) pieces.
Linen tea towels by Printwork by Toni Point
If you already own a lot of kitchen pieces that are of value to you, but that aren’t bold enough to really set a theme, add some items that you don’t yet have that are more decidedly aesthetic, but that still serve a purpose in a kitchen. Say, a bright-colored lemon juicer, a ceramic French press, or a patterned serving platter.
Finally: plants. Many plants aren’t going to be functional in a culinary sense — and that’s fine! Any plants are a guaranteed way to bring life to a room and make it feel pleasant and cozy.
But if you feel prepared to take particular care of some plants, and especially if you cook a lot, you should consider starting your own personal herb garden.
It’s definitely something that takes more attention and care than, say, succulents or larger house plants whose sheer size makes it impossible to forget to water them, but it’s well worth it if you find yourself buying store-bought fresh herbs to add to your dishes.
There are a few different ways you can build your own herb garden — and we go into detail about a bunch of them here. But this is one of the very best ways there is to make your kitchen both more beautiful and functional at once — and make your food even more delicious.