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kitchen styling ideas marble splashback with flowers in vignette

Our Top Kitchen Styling Ideas plus 15 Fab Decor Buys

Given that we’re stuck inside a lot more thanks to Coronavirus, I thought it would be nice to share some of my fave kitchen styling ideas with you.

This post includes a tonne of inspiration from clever creatives across the web, along with some style tips from me to you. I want you to get to the end of this post looking at your kitchen vignettes in a whole new light (If you’re not sure what a vignette is, I explain that fully here). You might even come to realise what you’ve been doing wrong when tackling a project like this. Either way, the aim is (as always) to build your confidence on the home styling front!

I’ve not only given you some fab kitchen styling ideas below, but there’s also a mood board at the end of this post that you can shop to create the look. It contains everything you need to make your kitchen amazing.

Drop me a comment at the end of this post if you have any questions or need some additional style tips.

Hero image above via Our Hamptons Style Forever Home.

neutral kitchen shelf styling white bowls

Style and Colour Come First

Before we get into the thick of it with all the kitchen styling ideas, we have to address the first step in the process: what’s the vibe of your vignettes going to be?

Take cues from the look and feel of your kitchen’s design elements. Is it a sleek and modern black and white affair? If so, consider if you want keep the styling calm and subdued (selecting pieces with neutral tones), or if you want to have a pop of colour contrast against it. Both approaches work, but the former will just feel more easy on the eye, with the latter more impactful.

The vibe of your kitchen might be more rustic (like the one in the image below), so you’ll want to include items in your benchtop styling that feel in keeping with that aesthetic. You don’t want an ultra modern toaster sitting in a wonderfully weathered kitchen, for example. It’ll feel like a mistake. And we don’t want you making those.

kitchen styling ideas rustic timber shelves in blue and white farmhouse kitchen

Serving Boards are Your Friend

When it comes to decorating your benchtop, I can’t stress the importance of serving boards enough. They absolutely make a kitchen styling vignette for a few reasons, so you need to get on-board (see what I did there?).

Firstly, texture! Any kitchen is going to have splashback tiles in it, or a similarly hard, somewhat cold surface like mirror or metal. By introducing a timber serving board into your styling, you bring in some much-needed warmth.

Secondly, serving boards give you height, and that’s an element that’s often missing from a countertop vignette. Lean two of them against some tiles in your kitchen and it draws the eye up. You can stick with rectangular boards, or mix it up with some round ones as well.

As a general rule, I’d avoid staging two circle boards together. Two rectangles of different sizes, yes. But not two circles.

Image above via Design Sponge.

kitchen shelf styling ideas floating shelves with trays and kitchen decor

Depth and Height are Essential

The vignettes on your kitchen countertop need to have depth to them. You can’t just sit three items side-by-side. It’ll feel flat and boring. It’s crucial you have something at the back of the benchtop or shelf (like a serving board), something in front of the board, and then something off to the side of the arrangement.

The height is important to pay close attention to as well. You want a standout tall object. It doesn’t have to be a serving board, it could be a plant. But the other objects need to step down in height from the tallest item a little, not have a huge leap in the gap between them.

Image above and below via Studio McGee.

black and white kitchen with neutral decor and styling floating shelves

A Variety of Shapes is Key

Following on from the depth of field rule comes the shape rule. These kinda go hand in hand. You want your vignette of objects to have depth of field, but ensuring there’s different shapes and sizes in the items is key as well.

For example, a rectangle serving board could lean against splashback tiles. In front of it could be a round vase containing a plant or stems of some sort. And then beside it could sit a teapot with a fluid shape.

People often stick three round shapes together in a vignette (like vases or canisters) and then feel like something is off. And it is. The vignette falls flat because of the lack of variety in shape.

kitchen tea towel styling grey and wipe stripe

Include Hard and Soft Materials

As I’ve already mentioned, kitchens can be hard places in terms of materials. So much ceramic and glass and stone. You want to ensure you introduce some soft materials in your vignettes, to create a sense of balance.

There are many decorator items you could bring into the mix here, but tea towels are an obvious choice. You can fold one or two up nicely and then stack something on top of them.

Flowers, plants or herbs would also be considered softer items you can introduce to ensure the space doesn’t feel too cold and clinical. I’d even lump books into this category. Sure, they’re hard in a sense, but the paper does have a soft element to it.

Image above via The Bali Market.

concrete look kitchen caesartstone kitchen styling ideas

Everyday Items are a No Brainer

So many of us have a second drawer in the kitchen that’s heaving with random utensils. A wooden spoon from one store, a metal spatula from another, a budget-buy whisk. They look so mis-matched because you’ve collected them over time, which is totally understandable.

Consider putting a list together of which items you might be able to replace and then showcase in some of your kitchen styling. A beautiful ceramic jar full of good-looking utensils is a great inclusion in a countertop vignette, and it’s very functional as well.

I’m even going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s nothing wrong with buying good-looking kitchen utensils you never plan on using. True story! And I refuse to feel guilty about it. Some things can have no purpose. Some things can just look pretty.

Image above via Boutique Homes.

indoor herb garden on floating shelves

Some Quirk and Personalisation Please

I always say that you should walk into a home and have a sense of who lives there. You don’t necessarily need a family photo taken, but you do need to personalise the rooms. If you don’t, then your home looks more staged-for-sale than it does a real, actual home.

This philosophy extends into your kitchen styling ideas. The little vignettes you have around the room should reflect who you are. And they can be a little quirky.

Books are a good way to reflect what you’re into on the culinary front. Maybe it’s baking cookies, maybe it’s Thai cuisine. Whatever it is, showcase it.

I also like to include some items that aren’t from major retail stores. You know, things you’ve picked up on travels or items from salvage/second-hand stores. These outta-the-box decorator moments are what separate your kitchen styling from everyone else’s out there. So don’t be afraid to experiment with something random.

Image above via The DIY Playbook.

large vase with twigs stems and large round fruit bowl

One Big Moment on Your Kitchen Island

A lot of the kitchen styling ideas listed above apply to countertop moments beside the cooktop or in the butler’s pantry. But I do want to address making the most of the kitchen island as well, because this is an important zone.

The one piece of advice I would impart here is not to clutter the island too much. This is often a zone people gather around. So you don’t need 45 items stacked at different heights.

Instead, opt for one rather large moment. A big bunch of flowers or stems in a vase, for example. Or a wide textural bowl filled with fruit can also create impact. You could do these together, but only on a fairly large island.

Image above via Helen Caillier Design.

kitchen styling ideas with round tray on marble countertop

Use a Tray to House Many Small Items

I do love me a tray. I love them on coffee tables, I love them on sideboards, and I love them when you’re thinking about kitchen styling ideas. Here’s a list of our fave trays for styling if you need help.

You might have a lot of little items you want to curate and showcase side-by-side. But without a tray they might look like you’re cleaning out your cupboards and forgot to put some stuff away. A simple tray will make the smaller items feels like an intentional design moment, rather than some random afterthought.

You’ll still apply all the rules above (depth of field, things at different heights etc) but you’ll be able to group a lot more smaller items together.

Image above via Driven by Decor.

kitchen sink styling brass taps with soap and hand lotion

Create a Moment Bedside your Sink

Kitchen styling ideas can still apply in small spaces. I know many of you probably feel that you’re stuck with such little countertop space that many of these ideas can’t apply. But if nothing else, you can create a gorgeous little moment on or beside your sink.

I love the idea of a small rectangle dish housing a pump soap and pump moisturiser on it. Even that on its own creates a stylish moment that feels personal to you and your preferred moisturiser scent.

But you can also include a small bunch of flowers here. Or you could replace the moisturiser for a stylish detergent bottle. Either way, this is a small but effective way to still get some style into your kitchen. So don’t go thinking you have to have a huge space to create some wow-factor.

Image above via Pinterest.

dark kitchen cabinets with white splashback tiles

Art in the kitchen – it’s Doable!

Your kitchen styling ideas don’t have to be all objects and everyday items. And guess what: when it comes to art, it doesn’t have to be attached to a plaster wall.

I love displaying smaller art on shelves in kitchens. Or make like the image above and try attaching one to your tiles. It’s such a nice way to personalise the space. If you don’t want to attach the art, you can simply lean it against the wall so you can change it up as you please.

Think outside of framed art as well. It could be a neon sign, a letter light box or other memo board you can create your own messages on. Have some fun. Design doesn’t have to be so serious.

Image above via Inspired by Charm.

morphy richards blue kettle and toaster appliances

Appliances can be Decorative Too

Last but not least, I wanted to touch on the fact that your kitchen styling ideas can and should include appliances like kettles, toasters and mixers.

Those of you who have large butlers pantries might have these pieces hiding back there. But for smaller kitchens, I love showcasing a coloured kettle, for example. The toaster tends to get a little dirtier, so you might pop this one away when not in use. But there’s no reason you can’t proudly display a chic metallic or coloured kettle.

Looking for some help on this front? Here’s our list of gorgeous coloured kettle and toasters like the ones above from Morphy Richards.

kitchen styling ideas mood board kitchen decor

Our Kitchen Styling Ideas Mood Board

Want to inject some of the kitchen styling ideas you see above into your home? It’s as easy as clicking on the links below. Go on, you deserve it – and so do your countertops!

Links are listed starting at the top left of mood board and working across.

What are some of your fave kitchen styling ideas from this post? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Drop me a line if you have any questions too!


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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5 Responses

  1. Hi there, thanks for all this info. I’m looking at a benchtop for our soon to be new kitchen; white shaker cupboards, timber shelving, white butlers sink, brushed brass tapware, wooden floor and maybe some glass cabinetry. Unsure about the splashback (I do like Zellige tiles) or perhaps as you say, continue the benchtop as a splashback. What I cannot decide is the colour/style of the benchtop. I don’t like too much marble – thought I liked concrete but it might be a bit cold looking. I’m after something with a bit of wow but not over-the-top; something that will blend in rather than stand out too much. I like the thought of a bit of contrast. Is there a caesarstone colour that you can recommend please. Something that adds a bit of contrast but not too cold looking or too warm looking. I would really appreciate some help with this one – I’m unable to travel to look at too much at present so a bit hamstrung really. Thanks for your time.

  2. Long before I was a Pinterest junkie, I was a counter vignette perfectionist…you know, a changing it up, moving it around, rearranging, perfectionist! This article speaks to me on so many levels! I’ve been using trays, boards, baskets, pitchers, crocks, plants, and art on my kitchen counters and walls forever! I love it all…can you tell by all the exclamation points? A kitchen with nothing but a toaster and a coffee pot makes me sad.

  3. Hi Chris
    I’m installing a brand new shaker style kitchen but cannot decide on the exact white ( thinking vivid white dulux Matt satin finish as there is no blue , grey or cream shade) and if I should have a 60mm Thickness Ceaserstone bench top . Still not sure of colour though for benches either any suggestions as I’m getting overwhelmed with all the choices The island bench will be approx 2.7m in length & 1m or 900 in width
    I’m leaning towards Hamptons look
    My kitchen Area is large 5450×3950
    I am having timber flooring to soften the look (European oak or blackbutt)

    1. Hey Vicky, thanks for reaching out. Bit hard to make specific recommendations over the web. If I were in your shoes, I’d hire a designer for a one-off consult. A kitchen reno is a big investment, you don’t want to regret a choice.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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