Ah, the kitchen counter – the final decorative frontier. Even after the walls, windows and cabinets have been updated, decorating a space that looks so strictly functional can seem daunting. This is an absolutely practical part of the home for cutting things, serving dishes and rolling out dough. Decorations placed on the counter often feel redundant — or risk being splashed with cooking oil. So how do you make your counter as conscious as the rest of your home, and not lose precious space?
First, ask yourself what you can take off the counter and into the different storage areas. The sides of the refrigerator, the inside of the cabinets, and above the stove are all just begging to be used. Second, place leftover clutter into trays and baskets to accommodate (and hide) as much as possible. Finally, add some decorative elements here and there (having nice and functional items like urns, cutting boards and dish racks also helps)
Here’s how to do it all:
1. Take things off the counter–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Try to get all unnecessary items off the counter before you reorganize or start spending a fortune. A pile of mail, a giant air fryer and loose medicine bottles don’t belong on the counter at all. Even that bowl of fruit might look better as a focal point (more on that later) or on the kitchen table. Once done, you can start rearranging what you already have.
Similar to storing items in a pantry or cupboard, countertops greatly benefit from shelves and risers to elevate existing jars, utensil racks and dishes. In most kitchens, there is more than a foot of space between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinets, which can be easily utilized by increasing the height of the countertop items.
2. Put the essentials on the stove–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Did you know that the space above the stove is a gold mine for storage? This makes sense, especially when you consider all the different items you end up touching when cooking. A simple rack sits just above the stove to keep essentials like salt and pepper, measuring cups and olive oil directly within reach.
3. Put things on the wall and on the fridge–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Another hidden storage area that no one thought of? The side of the refrigerator. An unused surface like this is the perfect place for a magnetic storage rack for everything from tea towels to measuring spoons. Walls can also be used to take items off the counter (and make room for more decorations).
4. Stick to one theme–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Cut down on all the neon cookware you still have to hang around in college (or, if that’s your thing, make neon themed!) and find a color scheme that sticks. All appliances, tools and accessories can be incorporated into the color scheme. Try all-wood, black and white, a single metal finish, or mix and match on purpose… making this simple change will ensure everything on the counter hangs better and looks more styled than cluttered.
5. Invest in storage you really love–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
If you’re going to keep flour, sugar, and salt on the counter, put them in pretty jars. Even items like a plate holder or knife holder don’t have to be an eyesore. When these pieces are color-coordinated and the designs edgier, your counters will look a lot less cluttered in practice.
6. Repack store-bought items–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Anything that comes with a label from the store (dish soap, pepper grinders, coffee bags, etc.) will be transferred to a ton in a container coordinated with the kitchen…unless, of course, the packaging is already pretty.
7. Utilize trays–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
We’ve detailed what we love about trays to keep clutter organized so we don’t need to get into it again. Suffice it to say: a spacious tray or lazy susan is perfect for all kinds of things (plants, olive oil, salt cellar, utensils, etc.), while a smaller tray can hold keys, sunglasses, and other small items.
8. Display the chopping board–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Instead of hiding oiled acacias and expertly adding bamboo, display your cutting board against a wall.
9. Lean small pieces of art against the wall–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Similar to a chopping board, small pieces of art leaning against the wall and floating shelves elevate the kitchen from strictly functional to design-forward. If you’re concerned about cooking to spatter, be sure to use an easy-to-clean frame, such as painted wood or metal.
10. Botanical style–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Don’t be afraid to style your kitchen with plants…think: of drooping vines hanging from open shelving and sturdy succulents by the sink. It’s no secret that plants bring life to any room, and the kitchen is no exception. Try perching plants on top of less-used pots, or even hook them to the bottom of a cabinet.
11. Make fruit a display item–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Your bananas are perfectly fine as display items (think how many fruit bowl still lifes you’ve seen in museums!) or keep lemons in a visible bowl – fresh fruit always makes the kitchen feel more alive and alive.
12. Choose a desk lamp–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Sure, your counter space is limited, but is there anything that can replace the glow of a desk lamp? (The answer is no.) “Nothing makes your home—and any room in it—feel utterly welcoming and warm like a soft yellowish glow,” wrote Home52 contributor Alyssa Longobucco, “and Nowhere is this more difficult to achieve than in a kitchen, where harsh overhead lighting or a single pendant light on the island reigns supreme.” The answer, of course, is a small table lamp on the counter that adds both ambiance and convenience task lighting. Be sure to keep it away from the stove as it runs the risk of being splashed.
13. Choose a tool to make a statement–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
This one is a bit controversial because when it comes to kitchen utensils and appliances, there are firm camps on both sides of the aesthetic versus function debate. But we say: why choose one? There are plenty of brands making appliances with subtle colors and lavish finishes, like this retro-inspired Smeg espresso machine, this copper-colored electric kettle, and this sleek, minimalist coffee grinder.
There is also no need to buy them all at once. In fact, we recommend buying your most sought-after pieces over time as your tastes and color preferences will evolve, and changes in color will add to the feeling of being a collection.
14. Keep seasonal flowers and vegetables in stock–Food Storage Supplier Suggested
Just like your dining table or nightstand, your kitchen counter (and your entire kitchen) can be brought to life with some seasonal flowers and vegetables. Fall and winter branches are very easy to maintain, but spring tulips and summer daisies will keep the space fresh.