By Geneva Vanderzeil
The kitchen really is the heart of the home, and it should therefore take a big focus when you’re decorating. It’s an important room even from a time perspective. If I were to calculate the room where I spend the most waking hours, it would have to be the kitchen. It’s where we cook food for our loved ones, and make memories with friends and family around the dinner table. It’s the heart of the home for a reason.
Although the kitchen is sometimes seen as a purely utilitarian space, the aesthetics of your kitchen shouldn’t be overlooked. Given the amount of time you spend in it, you might as well make your kitchen a place that suits your style just as much as it makes for good cooking. A great kitchen is equal parts beauty and function.
I’ve lived with my share of scary kitchens, from tiny corridor kitchens that had a ‘one in, one out’ rule, to giant, echoing spaces where everything I needed was a mile away. But with a few simple DIY and styling hacks, I’ve always been able to make the most of these rooms and turn them into spaces where I enjoyed spending time. Sometimes it might be a challenge, but trust me, it’s doable!
Checklist for a functional, beautiful kitchen
There are lots of ways to create a gorgeous kitchen that doesn’t feel like a place where you simply slave away over a hot stove. It’s important to develop a vision and then integrate functional as well as beautiful elements into the space.
Think about how you actually use your kitchen. Consider where the different activities take place and what needs to be close by to make those activities quicker and easier. Storing items close to where you use them is ideal.
Unless your kitchen is tiny, it’s useful to set up a few stations that cater to the various activities that occur in different parts of the kitchen. For example, store the items you use for making tea and coffee on a tray near the kettle, or have a caddy with olive oil, salt and pepper near the stove. Creating stations is very simple, but they do make a difference to your daily life.
In the past, the kitchen was more of a transitional space, but these days it’s a place where people tend to gather and relax. It’s essential, therefore, that there’s a place for people to sit. It’s worth considering adding a couple of stools, a bench or a table when you think about the layout of your kitchen.
What’s the point of a beautiful kitchen if you have nowhere to store everything you need? Having sufficient storage is essential and should be included in the form of drawers and cupboards. I love open shelving, but it only works if you have enough other storage – otherwise you risk your open shelving becoming overstuffed and messy.
I know that a kitchen is a controversial place to put a rug, but hear me out! A rug is the easiest way to make a space feel cosy and homely. Kitchens often suffer from feeling underdressed, and a rug is an easy way to turn that around. If you’re considering putting a rug in your kitchen, it’s important to find one that’s suitable for the busy (and messy) kitchen space, so look for something that’s durable and easy to clean.
A personal touch
The goal for making a home is to make it yours – a space that makes you happy to be there and shows your personality. That’s why I love to add a personal touch to my kitchen, whether it be through some art, small mementos, a favourite vase or a framed quote. I love having open shelving where I can inject some of my own style.
Ask Geneva: How do I style a beautiful kitchen?
Question: The kitchen is my favourite room of the house, but I’m struggling to turn it into a gorgeous space that’s in keeping with the decor in the rest of my home. How do I make my kitchen a beautiful space?
Answer: We don’t often think about the decor in our kitchen, and focus instead on how it functions. But no matter the actual design of your kitchen, there are lots of small tweaks you can make to ensure it’s beautiful and a joy to be in. And they don’t have to be costly or involve a major renovation. It’s just about considering the details and putting your own personal stamp on the space.
Clear your benchtops
A clutter-free kitchen is the first foundation of a beautifully styled space. If you’re feeling like your kitchen needs a refresh, consider clearing the benchtops – find places for all of the functional, not-so-pretty items in cupboards and start with a clean slate.
Label it up
I have an addiction to my retro label maker. It’s such a lovely detail to label all your bottles and jars, and it’s also incredibly functional! Even better, by using jars instead of bags, you are taking a step towards a plastic-free and low-waste kitchen.
Display your favourite utensils and vessels
Why put your favourite ceramics and utensils away in a cupboard or drawer, when they can help style your beautiful kitchen? I like to layer wooden chopping boards by leaning them against a wall, and also display ceramic vases with wooden spoons and other nice utensils.
Style up open shelving
As long as you have enough other ‘hidden’ storage, open shelving is such a lovely way to display some favourite kitchen items. Start by placing your favourite cookbooks on the shelves, add some pretty ceramics and then some plants.
Display your fresh food
Delicious, fresh seasonal produce is a feast for the tummy and also for the eyes. Use baskets to display citrus and other pretty fresh foods. This will also make you more likely to eat them before they spoil, so it’s a win-win!
Project: Painted wooden spoons
Cooking is supposed to be a joy, but sometimes it can feel a bit tiresome. I’ve found that investing a little time in making beautiful accessories for my kitchen helps inspire my cooking. This project, while relatively simple to execute, is a great starting point for updating your kitchenware and the space itself. Think of it as the gateway to a complete overhaul!
- Wooden spoons
- Food-safe paint
- Painter’s tape
- Damp rag
- Basic toolbox
Gently sand the spoons to remove any rough areas. Wipe away any dust with a damp rag.
Wrap a piece of painter’s tape around the handle of each spoon to create a guide for painting.
Paint the spoons, using two coats of food-safe paint. Allow the spoons to air dry for at least an hour.
Place the dry spoons in a cold oven, then heat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the spoons for 25 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the spoons to cool completely in the oven. Wait at least 3 days before using the spoons. They should always be hand-washed.
Tip: Choose paint colours that complement the decor of your kitchen.
–Images and text from Home Is Where You Make It by Geneva Vanderzeil, photography by Geneva Vanderzeil. Murdoch Books RRP $35.00.