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7 Kitchen Styling Tricks We Learned from Instagram

by Jen Masseau — Rainsford Company February 19, 2021 7 min read

7 Kitchen Styling Tricks We Learned from Instagram

Let us guess: When decorating your home, you probably started with the living room, right? Then you decked out some of the bedrooms, the den, and maybe a home office... leaving your kitchen out of all the fun? If so, it's time for that to change.

Often called the heart of the home, your kitchen is one of the rooms you probably spend the most time in, and it deserves to look its best! This place of function needs some styling love too, especially in open-plan homes where the kitchen is visible from adjacent living areas. Plus, when entertaining (whenever we actually get to do that again), everyone congregates in the kitchen anyway, so why not make sure it looks good, too?

Even if a designer reno isn't in the books, there's plenty you can do with a little decor to get your space a few steps closer to the elusive "dream kitchen."

Here are 7 ideas for how to serve up serious style in the kitchen.

1

Put Dishes (& More) on Display

The quickest way to fill your kitchen with effortless style: Reach for what you already have and love, and put it on display.

That could mean filling a couple of floating shelves with your prettiest pieces: Show off special glassware, pitchers and dessert dishes, and then layer in accents like cookbooks, candlesticks and small plants. Or skip the fuss and stick to the basics: Even simple stacks of everyday white dinnerware can appear elevated when displayed on floating shelves (as designer Ali Henrie shows in the image below), turning basic ceramic cups, bowls and plates into mini art objects.

If open shelving's not your thing, consider outfitting some of your cabinets with glass-fronted doors for a polished look. (Just make sure you also have a few closed cupboards somewhere for pantry items!)

Instead of hiding away large cutting boards and serving pieces — they can be major space hogs in cabinets anyway — repurpose them as decor for your countertops. Lean wood or marble boards up against your backsplash, use big bowls and platters for fruit or bread (did you know lemons stay juicier at room temperature?), and turn serving trays and trivets into landing pads for small decorating accessories like a candle or a vase.

Kitchen by Ali Henrie Designs.

Kitchen by Ali Henrie Designs.

Kitchen by Jyll Mackie.

Kitchen by Jyll Mackie.

Kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photo by Julie Soefer.

Kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photo by Julie Soefer.

Kitchen by Elizabeth Garrett Interiors. Photo by Kerry Kirk Photography.

Kitchen by Elizabeth Garrett Interiors. Photo by Kerry Kirk.

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2

Bring Back the Pot Rack

Think pots and pans are for utility only? An old-school pot rack might change your mind. If you love to cook, this convenient storage solution keeps your most-used tools in easy reach and frees up lower cabinet space.

While racks obviously look beautiful hung with shiny polished copper pots, they can look equally dramatic filled with regular stainless steel or ceramic-coated cookware. Make it a central statement with a grid-style rack above an island, or preserve sightlines with a linear rack hung off the side.

A DIY hack to get the look in a smaller space: Install a couple of rows of wall 3-inch long hooks on an empty wall, like homeowner Aliya Arnold did in her kitchen pictured below.

Kitchen by Taylor Hill Interior Design. Photo by Katie Charlotte.

Kitchen by Taylor Hill Interior Design. Photo by Katie Charlotte.

Kitchen by Aliya Arnold.

Kitchen by Aliya Arnold.

Kitchen by Mark D. Sikes Interiors. Photo by Amy Neunsinger.

Kitchen by Mark D. Sikes Interiors. Photo by Amy Neunsinger.

Kitchen by Mario Buatta. Photo by Scott Frances.

Kitchen by Mario Buatta. Photo by .

3

Embrace Big Plant Energy

By now, you know how we feel about adding a little green — real or faux — to every room. (Hint: it's pretty much a decorating essential.)

In the kitchen, where surfaces are used for more practical purposes than styling #shelfies (like, you know, cooking), it's best to go BIG. Place a single, large vase or pot filled with tall, full greenery on your kitchen island or countertop to make a big impact that doesn't sacrifice much counter space. We love oversized stems and branches for their sculptural look, along with organic moss bowls for a modern spin.

Another idea that almost goes without saying: Line window sills with rows of potted herbs planted in simple terracotta pots. Fresh, homegrown ingredients that double as pretty decor? It's a win-win! Mix myrtle or boxwood topiaries in with smaller herb pots for extra interest and added height.

Kitchen by Tasson Interiors.

Kitchen by Tasson Interiors.

Kitchen by Athena Calderone.

Kitchen by Athena Calderone.

Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.

Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.

Kitchen by Sarah Bartholomew Design. Photo by Jessica Amerson.

Kitchen by Sarah Bartholomew Design. Photo by Jessica Amerson.

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4

Add Framed Art

Just like with houseplants, most rooms benefit from a piece of art. There are basically no rules in choosing whatever it is you're most drawn to, and we think that adds a such a personal touch to a space.

But, like with anything decor, trends still abound, and here's an unexpected one we're loving: Kitchens decorated with antique oil paintings and vintage-inspired prints, especially of landscape and still life scenes. Find them tucked into countertop corners and left leaning against backsplashes; layered in the mix on open shelves; or even mounted front and centre on range hoods.

If we had to guess, we'd say the appeal here is twofold: For one, the old-world beauty fits with the homesteading vibe of cooking a meal from scratch in the kitchen; and for another, there are so many inexpensive flea market finds and striking reproduction prints to be had, the worry of cooking grease and fumes damaging these over an investment art piece is far less daunting.

That doesn't mean you can't still put up special art pieces that you want to preserve in the kitchen — just be sure to hang more precious pieces away from your cooktop or range, and that they're mounted under protective glass that can be wiped clean when needed.

Kitchen by Bradley Odom. Photo by Emily Followill Photographer.

Kitchen by Bradley Odom. Photo by Emily Followill Photographer.

Kitchen by Mix Design Collective. 

Kitchen by Mix Design Collective.

Kitchen by Hannah Hamburger.

Kitchen by Hannah Hamburger.

Kitchen by Robert Stilin & Peter Pennoyer Architects. Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson.

Kitchen by Robert Stilin & Peter Pennoyer Architects. Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson.

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5

Treat Your Windows Right

Don’t forget window treatments! With the many hard materials and surfaces that make up most kitchens, a little softness can go a long way to making yours feel much homier and more inviting. Textiles easily add that needed contrast. Sure, a couple of tea towels hanging off your oven door help, but window treatments are where the real magic happens.
 
Similar to pot racks, café curtains are another old-school look that's making a comeback. These little drapes add huge style and that touch of whimsy that's often missing from contemporary kitchens. The style gets a fresh update when done in modern fabrics, and with only a small swath needed (since only the lower half-to-two-thirds of your windows will be covered), you might be able to splurge on a designer textile. (We're swooning over the Virginia Kraft Polkat print in emerald green and ivory shown below.) Another bonus: Café curtains are a great choice to add privacy, but still let loads of natural light in.
 
If you're not sold on café curtains, go for a traditional Roman blind — always a favourite in kitchens where less fluff is preferred. But, instead of the typical flat style, consider a softer draped construction and a fun print for a more decorated look, like in this fresh blue and white kitchen designed by Sarah Bartholomew.

Kitchen by The Mix Interiors. Photo by Caroline Allison.

Kitchen by Jessica Bradley Interiors.

Kitchen by Mandy Milks.  Photo by Michael Graydon Pictures.

Kitchen by Mandy Milks. Photo by Michael Graydon Pictures.

Kitchen by Sarah Bartholomew Design.

Kitchen by Sarah Bartholomew Design.

6

Roll Out a Runner

As with fabric window treatments, rugs add a soft and cozy hit to your kitchen, providing a textural respite from all the harder surfaces surrounding the space. A long runner with a short pile or flat-weave construction is best, and be sure to use a non-slip rug pad underneath for safety.

The key to pulling this off, from a practical perspective: Pattern. As hard as you try to keep your runner pristine, one day, a cup of coffee will be knocked off the counter and tomato sauce will splatter on your floor. There's no avoiding it; food spills come with the kitchen territory. So, an easy to clean, stain-resistant material is a must, and a busy pattern will help hide any lingering stains that do occur much better than a solid colour would.

Kitchen by Vivir Design. 

Kitchen by Vivir Design.

Kitchen by Kemble Interiors. Photo by Raquel Langworthy.

Kitchen by Kemble Interiors. Photo by Raquel Langworthy.

Kitchen by Ali Henrie Design. Photo by Rebekah Westover.

Kitchen by Ali Henrie Design. Photo by Rebekah Westover.

Kitchen by Andrea West Design. Photo by Travis Richardson.

Kitchen by Andrea West Design. Photo by Travis Richardson.

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7

Level Up Your Lighting

Since the kitchen is inherently a workspace, its lighting scheme is typically all about task lighting. But that doesn't mean your fixtures can't be beautiful too.

Rethink your conceptions of what kitchen lighting looks like by venturing outside the expected pot lights and pendants. We love a good lantern, but what about a shaded pendant with a decorative chain? Down-light sconces are a classic choice that makes practical sense, but how about a tubular candlestick-style pick? Instead of recessed pot lights that disappear into the ceiling, consider a compact-but-stylish flush mount with cool metal accents, to draw the eye upwards.

Maybe our favourite surprising light styling trick at the moment: Big table lamps on kitchen counters. Choose one you might put in a living or bedroom — linen shade and all — for instant coziness.

Kitchen by Andrea West Design. Photo by Travis Richardson.

Kitchen by Andrea West Design. Photo by Travis Richardson.

Kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photo by Julie Soefer.

Kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photo by Julie Soefer.

Kitchen by Heidi Caillier Design.  Photo by Haris Kenjar Photography.

Kitchen by Heidi Caillier Design. Photo by Haris Kenjar Photography.

Kitchen by Minnie Peters Design. Photo by Luke White Photography.

Kitchen by Minnie Peters Design. Photo by Luke White Photography.

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