A PRO DESIGNER’S TIPS FOR STYLING YOUR COUNTERTOPS
When I first meet home-decorating aficionados, their first question is usually, “Is it as fun as it looks to design home products all day long?” (The answer: you betcha. And then some.) Their second question is often some version of: “I love the way kitchens look in my favorite shelter magazines and design blogs. How do I style my countertops to look like that?”
Well, I’ve got good news and even better news. The good news is that you don’t need a professional stylist to give your kitchen counters that editorial look. The even better news is that, with a little planning and a few gorgeous appliances and decorative objects, it’s actually pretty simple to make your kitchen look like it popped off the pages of a high-end magazine. Just follow these easy tricks and tips:
1. Start by taking everything—and I mean everything that isn’t bolted down or painted on—off your counters. Give them a thorough cleaning, and then step back, look, and think. Which appliances do you absolutely need to have at hand every single day? For me, that’s three KitchenAid items: a KitchenAid® Personal Coffee Maker, with a travel mug at the ready; a high-powered KitchenAid® Diamond Blender for whipping up morning smoothies chock-full of fruits and veggies; and a KitchenAid® Digital Countertop Oven for snacks and personal-sized meals like bagels with melted Gruyère and apple butter, roasted salmon (the Asado Roast setting is perfect for this), or even a petite fruit cobbler. When shopping for new kitchen countertop appliances, it’s important to choose models that have the same look or feel. That’s why I went with sleek stainless steel for all three. (There’s one exception to this rule; keep scrolling for number 3!)
Though you can space out your go-to appliances as much as you like, I prefer to keep mine in easy reach of the fridge and sink, so I’m not wasting energy in the kitchen. As for my other tools and appliances, I make dedicated space in my cabinets and drawers for each one. In the earliest days of owning my house, I reminded myself to put each nonessential item away soon after use to reduce countertop clutter, and it’s since become an ingrained habit.
2. Keep your color palette simple. I always advise no more than three focal colors, and I’m definitely in the lighten-up camp when it comes to kitchen design. My kitchen has pale gray walls and cabinets and Carrara marble countertops with multiple shades of white and gray, and I bring in splashes of color through my appliances, accessories, table linens, and organic elements like fruit, veggies, and flowers or branches.
3. If you have an appliance or tool that you simply love to look at—think: a vintage enamel teakettle or a hammered copper saucepot—make it part of your countertop décor. In my kitchen, the objet de l’amour is my KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer. The iconic shape is both retro and modern, and it comes in so many fun and festive colors that it seamlessly blends in with the design of any kitchen. I’m smitten with this icy Azure Blue against the silvery tones of the granite.
4. Choose visually interesting vessels or containers for any fruit or veggies you’re planning to keep on the countertop, and vary the size and shape. I love the way that wood and bamboo warm up my cool-hued counters, and layering neutrals—in this case, white, gray, brown, and tan—is a standby trick of the professional decorator for giving a room an upscale, sophisticated feel. But anything from raku-glazed ceramic bowls to oblong stainless-steel trays and glass platters can work, as long as it reflects personality of your kitchen.
5. If your counter or cabinet space is at a premium, make use of hanging storage for fruit, pots and pans, and stovetop utensils. You’d be surprised at the range of incredible options on the market today!
6. Resist the urge to load up on decorative objects, no matter how large your kitchen counters. I’ve rarely met a glass vase, ceramic planter, Japanese teapot, Italian-marble salt box, bouquet of flowers, or handful of colorful seasonal berries I didn’t love. But I make it a point to rotate my displays, so that I’m never putting all of them out at the same time. This goes double if you have wall art, like I do, in the kitchen! Aim to showcase no more than four decorative accessories at a time, and make sure you leave adequate spacing between them, rather than bunching them together in a single corner.
7. Also resist the siren song to use your kitchen counters as a catch-all for car keys, mail, gloves, cell phones and other electronics, and the like. To truly get that editorial look, all of these items should be stored out of the kitchen, preferably on a console table in the entryway. If your home or apartment is small and you must store these items in the kitchen, tuck a pretty basket or opaque bowl on one end of the counters, and stash everything inside.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite tricks for styling your kitchen countertops?