Styling a Kitchen – Designer Tips15 Min.
Styling a kitchen can bring it from well designed and functional to personal and beautiful. After all the big design decisions have been made, the styling details can elevate a space to something truly special. However it can be an initimidating process – arranging pieces but avoiding clutter, choosing fun accessories without creating knick knack displays. Not to worry, JF designer Holly Gagne has shared her guidelines for stylish kitchen styling.
“I tend to go more natural and organic in my design approach for kitchens. I want the space to be inspiring as a gathering space for family and friends, and a place to comfortably create meals. I think a healthy and clean feeling space promotes healthy and clean cooking-eating. If the kitchen has well-designed cabinetry and materials, there is not a need for the styling to dominate that… it should simply compliment. Go minimal in areas where people will gather or prep. Good styling should just be an extension of the overall style, adding little details so the space feels lived in and personal rather than stark and unfinished or the other direction… over-styled.”
So- where to begin? Holly says the most important starting point is to have a good understanding of what you like and what you don’t. For example, if you are concerned with keeping countertops clear – styling may be focused more on items that are functional in the space rather than purely decorative. Step back and take a holistic look at the space as well as adjoining spaces if they are visible from the kitchen – what is your overall assessment of the space? Ask yourself a series of questions. What does it need – a pop of color? Is it too stark and clean feeling? Or does it have too much color and need to be toned down with neutrals? Would color be too distracting? Are neutral textures a better way to add visual interest? Does it need less…do we need to de-clutter? Does it need more…of what? Be objective and write down your thoughts – you’ll find it easier to create a cohesive plan of action.
Once you have established what the kitchen needs (and doesn’t need) Holly recommends the following guidelines to add personal style to a space that is intended for function:
“I’m a huge advocate of plants in the kitchen. Herbs that add texture and aroma are my favorite because again they add to the organic healthy feel, but if you are not into the maintenance then succulents are a perfect solution.. they require little care but the range of textures and shapes can really have an impact on the feel of space. Place them on windowsills, center islands or open shelves. If they are near the sink you are much more apt to keep them well fed…
Items like everyday bowls, plates, and coffee mugs are a great way to add color or texture if you have open shelves or glass cabinetry. Glass canisters with oatmeal, flour, sugar, spices are another way to achieve this in a functional and natural way.
There are some fabulous cookbooks now that act like coffee table books… a way to incorporate color or “art” into the space, but also can inspire cooking or even creative handcrafted cocktails. They can be propped on open shelves or on a countertop as a way to fill space, something aesthetic as well as useful.
Hardware on the cabinets is a great way to totally alter the feel of the kitchen; either by softening or adding drama through the finish/shape/style. There are so many options now from handmade leather pulls to antique cabinet latches that can totally define the overall style.
Finally, I always love to incorporate one unique/odd accessory that might be a talking piece. Sometimes it is a found object, a unique piece of art, or I have found some really funky items at retail stores. Something you would not expect to see in a kitchen to remind you that this is also a family living area that can infuse the personality of the homeowners.”
Styling your kitchen is an opportunity to have fun – be playful and explore your personal sense of style. The best part is that it’s not permanent, you can change things up as often or as seldom as you like! Finally we asked Holly for her top 5 favorite accessories for the kitchen.
1. Knife block – get them off the countertop
2. A quality built in cutting board, whether one that pulls out as an extension of a countertop or placed in a vertical cabinet, easily accessible. This is an accessory you use all the time; it should be visually appealing when in use…but out of the way when not, and easy to access.3. A spice pullout that can fit a variety of spice types and sizes. Easy to access anything when you are in your full on cooking mode.
3. A spice pullout that can fit a variety of spice types and sizes. Easy to access anything when you are in your full on cooking mode.
4. Bread, veggie & fruit drawers – unless you are feeling like you need a nice big bowl to accessorize your space, having designated drawers like allow breathability but also to get these items off the countertop is a luxury and great way to de-clutter your space.
5. Mixer lift – again, a large accessory that takes up countertop space but also is just heavy to lift in and out of cabinets or pantries. Having a mixer lift allows you to keep the mixer right in the area where you prep and never have to lift a finger.
Many of Holly’s top picks can be seen in person at the Jewett Farms + Co. Boston Design Center showroom.
Who is Holly Gagne:
“I live in a barn. I’m a mom, a Mainer, a Jazzfest regular, and my husband makes a mean shrimp taco. I’m a softie for all things vintage, rustic, and authentic.
I studied interior design at Boston Architectural College so I could do what I love.
I find inspiration in anything and everything around me. With every project, I seek new concepts, new techniques, and new materials to perfectly compliment that one client and that one space.
I quit my day job to create beautiful spaces.”
Holly can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org, her styling and kitchen design work can be seen at our Boston Design Center showroom.