Kitchen Styling Tips Applied in Real Life

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  April 29, 2014 — 3 Comments

Yesterday I posted 25 Styling Tips for a Beautiful and Functional Kitchen and today I’m back to share how I’ve applied some of these tips in my own home. I don’t have many of the high end appliances and features that you see in magazines, but I do have a space that makes me happy and because I’ve set it up thoughtfully it’s very easy to work in.

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My dishwasher detergent is in a glass canister, my dish soap is in a cruet meant for olive oil, a bar of hand soap is in a dish on the windowsill, and an absorbent towel in a favorite color hangs from an inexpensive holder on the cabinet below. I’ve got a small collection of bud vases on display (handy for any pretty flowers I may collect outside), a couple of plants, and a metallic pear I got ages ago for a few bucks. The curtain adds fun color and pattern to a largely neutral space.

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I use the peninsula immediately adjacent to this area for food prep so the corner is prime real estate. I keep apples and bananas out in a platter (though the fruit flies are killing me lately!). Next to that sits a knife block and stand mixer. All of my baking supplies and mixer accessories are stored in the cabinet above.

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Over here I’ve got a memo board, stemware, and paper towels taking advantage of vertical space and on the counter a pretty silver tray groups raisins, almonds, tea, sugar, oatmeal, and a pretty candle. I keep a glass bowl out to collect corks and a couple of handy supplies like a corkscrew, bottle opener, matches, and more tea are in the drawer below.

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Grouping these items together on a tray helps it look less cluttered and adds a decorative element as well. I love love love vintage silver, but the same effect could be achieved with a shallow basket or any kind of tray that suits your fancy.

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The eye prefers odd numbers and symmetry but careful disregard for these rules can be fun. Make a list of your favorite colors and textures and find ways to work them in. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars at Anthro, Pottery Barn, or even Target. Most of what you see in these photos has either been collected over the years from various secondhand sources or picked up inexpensively at closeout stores like Marshall’s or Stein Mart (sadly we have no HomeGoods here, but that’s a good option as well). I know that my kitchen would look so much better with a new stove, but I’m not letting the ugliness of the old one stop me from decorating around it. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got!

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The narrow black tray came from Ikea several years ago and I think is intended for candles but it’s perfect for keeping some things handy near the stove. The four taller items looked weird by themselves so I added a vintage sugar bowl with a small preserved plant inside (that’s what I like to call plants that I’ve killed but that still look okay). The bowl serves no functional purpose here but it made the grouping odd-numbered and thus instantly improved the aesthetics. My cast iron skillet stays out all the time, mostly because it’s so freaking heavy. The silver platter was gifted to Nick’s great-grandfather upon his retirement from the jewelry store where he worked for 65 years.

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This side of the stove has been switched up a few times as I try to figure out what works best. I used to have all of my measuring cups and spoons in a plastic bin in the pantry but I started getting annoyed that the bin was in the way of the food. I just got this woven flatware caddy and it’s perfect for hiding these things in plain sight. I looked for a pretty glass measuring cup for liquids but couldn’t find one that I liked enough to leave sitting out, so the ugly plastic one I’ve had for years has been relocated to a cabinet near the sink. I was surprised to find that that’s actually a much more convenient home for it! All of my cooking utensils are gathered in a cylindrical container on the counter-it’s intended to be a lantern for candles but, you know, whatever. This move freed up the drawer below to store potholders and trivets.

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My mother in law gave me these sweet measuring cups and spoons with birds on the handles for my birthday. I love seeing the little birdies peeking out from the top of the basket. Also, most of us can’t afford to buy fresh flowers all the time but clippings from the great outdoors can be just as pretty. These buds feel fancy despite that fact that they were 100% free and are sitting in a shot glass.

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This is not the kind of thing that I’d suggest doing all at once. Take some time to think about how you use your kitchen. What do you need stored where? What would be best kept behind closed doors and what would be better kept in plain view? And what is taking up space that you don’t really need? Then find creative ways to make it work and keep your eyes peeled for items that can serve as attractive storage containers or decor. You might be surprised by how many beautiful things you already have!

If you’re new here and want to see more here are links to several posts about the progress of my kitchen:

My Big Plans for a Small Kitchen Makeover
Beadboard Backsplash Complete!
DIY Lined Cafe Curtains
DIY Wood & Metal Kitchen Shelves, Part 1
DIY Wood & Metal Kitchen Shelves, Part 2
DIY Etched Glass Dish Soap Dispenser
Organized Baking Cabinet with Hooks
DIY Pantry Doors Part 1
DIY Pantry Doors Part 2
Easy Pantry Shelf
New Kitchen Cabinet Hardware
How to Make Old Drawers Slide Smoothly
How I Finished the Undersides of My Cabinets
DIY Pantry Door Storage
Handed Down Silver Platter
Trial Run: Microwave in the Pantry
Styling and Organizing the Kitchen Counters
Sippy Cup and Kid Dish Storage
Another Silver Platter
New Kitchen Light


Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


3 responses to Kitchen Styling Tips Applied in Real Life

  1. Bridget from Cali May 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Love your elegant white lacey mod vessel for your over-sized spoons and spatulas. Also adore how you used the basket caddy to stow all your measuring cups and such. That is a capital idea worth snagging. Keeps ‘em easy to access, organized, and attractively housed.

    I am not a big fan of open shelving for breakables. (1) I live in earthquake territory. I learned my lesson about breakage and projectiles. (2) I also reside in a dust bowl. I don’t rotate most dishes fast enough so that would mean extra labor for a prewash. I do enjoy a bouquet of spoons, forks, and knives in a set of matching mugs on a narrow rustic wood tray at the back of the counter. Most kitchens are far too tiny to tuck everything away in secret, especially when you love dishware and tools as much as myself. I keep working to reduce my collection, but I will never be a minimalist.

  2. Bridget from Cali May 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    In no way were my comments above meant as a slam against your kitchen or style. I love your open shelving and how attractively you merchandized everything. I think you did a fabulous job pulling that entire vignette together. Keep up the inspiration!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap May 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

      Oh no offense taken! Living in earthquake country would definitely change my approach to open storage. You are so sweet!

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