Kitchens come with a unique set of design challenges. Unlike a bedroom or living room, where you can start with four blank walls, a kitchen has appliances, cabinets, pantries, tile, and a slew of other design details to contend with.
Kitchens come with a unique set of design challenges.
Unlike a bedroom or living room, where you can start with four blank walls, a kitchen has appliances, cabinets, pantries, tile, and a slew of other design details to contend with.
We asked interior designer Susan Crabtree of Chandler to take a look at the typical kitchen found in a Gilbert home. As with many East Valley homes, the homeowner had blank walls and little in the way of decor in her kitchen. Crabtree provided some ideas for adding great design and a little personality to the space.
“People just don’t know what to do in the kitchen,” says Crabtree. “They think they have to decorate with food, or use roosters, chickens or pigs. The kitchen is just another space, another extension of you.”
Crabtree says her first thought was that the small table against the wall was a real design problem.
Her initial idea was to replace the table with a built-in banquette.
“There’s not too much floor space in this kitchen, and I wanted to provide optimal seating,” she says.
By building a bench, with cushions, and pulling a table up to that with chairs around the perimeter, Crabtree says the homeowner will make the most of the space.
Another way to increase seating and make the kitchen more of a gathering place is to extend the counter of the island.
“You can pull up stools to it and it will give you room for a couple of guests to sit and talk,” she says.
Adding color to the walls is an obvious quick fix for the space, says Crabtree, but she had some other creative wall treatment ideas in mind for this space.
Inexpensive ceiling tiles can be used on the walls, instead, for example. Copper is very in now, and copper ceiling tiles will warm up the space.
“I did them on a backsplash,” she says. “It was cost-effective and easy to install.”
A large blank wall in a kitchen, such as the one found in this home, is a great place to create a feature wall, Crabtree says, to show off your creativity.
In smaller kitchens there is often a lack of storage space, so hanging attractive spice racks on the walls helps keep your counters less cluttered. Crabtree found stainless steel storage from Pottery Barn that she says is attractive and functional.
Displaying food products, such as fancy bottles of olive oil, is one option, but even better, says Crabtree, is using a blank wall in the kitchen to display a treasured collection.
Another space to consider when decorating a kitchen is the one between the tops of cabinets and the ceiling.
“Fake plants are the worst to me, personally, for this space,” says Crabtree.
She would rather display ceramics, canisters, or other finds in the space to give you and your guests something to look at.
Crabtree says not to fill the entire upper cabinet with items but instead to arrange your knickknacks into smaller groupings.
“It will have more rhythm and look less cluttered,” she says.
Mounting art above cabinets is another option, as is finding interesting architectural items to place in the area.
“Iron architectural elements, for example, add depth and dimension. The kitchen is pretty flat,” she says.
Finally, Crabtree says don’t forget about lighting when decorating the kitchen. Most kitchens come equipped for track or fluorescent lighting that is utilitarian and not very inviting.
“It’s work lighting only and not great for entertaining,” she says.
For this kitchen, once the banquette was in place, Crabtree would add a pendant lamp above it.
“A fun and funky fixture will give you a lot of bang for your buck,” she says.