Light and white kitchens are a trend that has been going strong for many years now, and for good reason. There’s nothing like waking up and walking into a bright and airy space to make your morning coffee. Light kitchens make the room feel wide and open, and nice and clean. But sometimes they can feel a bit cold or lifeless, especially if the room doesn’t receive an abundance of natural light. Fortunately there are so many little design tricks to add a pop of sunshine to an otherwise plain kitchen.
The backsplash of a kitchen is a blank canvas, and one that can be altered for a reasonable price and without much disruption to the function of the space during renovation. Replacing builder basic or outdated tiles can easily bring a kitchen up to date, and it adds visual interest and character. There are endless possibilities within every budget, from broad sections of natural stone with unique vein patterns, to coloured mosaic tiles.
Paint the cupboards
Painting your kitchen cupboards is certainly more of a commitment than swapping out the tiles, but can have a profound effect on the overall character and aura of the space. For confident DIY-ers, this project would still be quite an undertaking, so if you aren’t experienced and properly equipped, I’d suggest hiring a professional. If opting for a bright hit of colour, consider only painting the upper or lower cupboards as an accent. If going with a soft, muted tone, ensure that the tone blends well with the other fixtures in the room, and consider updating the finishes and hardware to suit. For example, the beige kitchen above has black handles for contrast and definition.
Lighting is so important for setting mood and tone. Dimming the lights for a dinner party, turning them up real bright when you’re making lunches in a rush, or changing the tone from warm to cold depending on the level of sunlight and weather, is crucial. Likewise, hanging a bold ceiling lamp can tie the whole space together. Lights are functional artwork. Select one that is to scale with the room (If you have a low ceiling, will it hit you in the head? If you have a high ceiling, is it too small in relation to the room?), diffuses the right amount of light, and adds personality to the room. Like these gold globes above; they compliment the elegant decor without competing, add thoughtfulness and interest to the room, and provide enough light to brighten the space.
Goodbye, boring floor mats! Why must the kitchen mat be beige and dull? Keep your feet warm and comfortable in style. Like this textured, woven floor mat. It draws your eye down, which is especially great if you have beautiful hardwood floors, and makes the room feel cozy. Opt for a carpet that runs the length of your island, as opposed to the traditional kitchen mats that sit in front of your sink or stove. This makes them more functional too.
When choosing dining chairs, be sure to keep both form and function in mind. They have to look good, but should also be comfortable enough to sit in for a few hours at a dinner party. And if you have kids, the material should be able to withstand a few spills. A bold colour or beautifully textured material is such a treat to look at, and creates a welcoming dining table. You can even repurpose your existing dining chairs by painting the frame and updating the upholstery with something more modern.
Small appliances and accents
What better way to add pops of colour to a space that you are not able to permanently alter (like an apartment) or if you are on a budget! Inject your own personal style and flare with thoughtfully chosen accents. Tea towels, kettles, coffee machines, utensils, and spice jars can be cutely coordinated and picked up on the cheap. This is also a great area to play around with trends, like rose gold finishes or live edge cutting boards, as items can easily be swapped out or replaced over time. If you’re into a bold colour but don’t want to commit to a paint job, try it out in small doses with your accents.
Display cookbooks in low traffic spaces
Books need not be relegated to the den. Storing cookbooks in the kitchen is very practical, so long as they are not hidden away in the back of a cupboard or located in a splatter zone near the stove. Try keeping them nicely organized by colour or size behind a glass cupboard door. Or if you have open shelving, stack them proudly on display. Cookbook cover art is often beautiful, and can add interest and flavor to the room. Shelving them in a visible place also serves as a reminder that they are there for inspiration!
Fresh flowers or plants
Flowers and plants immediately breathe life into the room. Potted herbs are functional and smell incredible. Cut flowers on the dining table can be changed up weekly for a new look and feel depending on the season and your mood. A tall leafy plant in an empty corner fills in the dead space without feeling cramped, and creates a lush environment. If you have plenty of natural light, try a ladder shelf with different types of potted plants and herbs.
Have a big personality that’s not reflected in your kitchen? Don’t be afraid to show it! Bold, bright, oversize artwork is an opportunity to share your love for a particular artist, interest, hobby or aesthetic. From colour blocking, to neon, to retro movie posters, the artwork you display can stand out while tying a room together. Much like with your accents, it can be changed over time as per your preferences, or as you acquire new pieces.
Which of these tricks would you try in your kitchen?
Disclaimer: FCT does not claim ownership or copyright for the images showcased above.
Freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto. She is the author and photographer of two cookbooks, Everyone’s Welcome (2019) and Allergen-Free Desserts (2015).