Even the most confident home decorator can be confused when it comes to adding personal style to your kitchen. Without a bit of fun to go with the function, the fanciest professional renovation -- replete though it may be with gorgeous granite counters and gleaming brand-new appliances -- can end up feeling a bit, well, anonymous. But there are actually lots of ways you can make your kitchen uniquely yours, and best of all, none of them cost much money. Here are a few ideas, with some help from Toronto designer Jacqueline Glass.
1 Pick a theme.
Collect items that reflect this theme. Some great traditional kitchen motifs are strawberries or vegetables; chickens or cows, especially in a French country style kitchen; sunflowers; antique advertising signs.
2 Beautiful kitchen implements can dress it up.
Relieve the coldness that sometimes goes with smooth materials such as granite and stainless steel with beautiful pepper mills, an arrangement of herbed oils in beautiful bottles, a marble mortar and pestle, or a china bowl filled with garlic bulbs add an organic feeling.
3 Create vignettes.
In the kitchen, for a look that's both practical and visually pleasing. Next to the coffee maker, put out a selection of pretty cups and matching creamer and sugar bowl; arrange a wooden knife block and breadbox next to a handsome maple cutting board.
4 In Europe, beautiful design in everyday things is considered a matter of course.
Alessi's famous Costco teapot, pots and pans from Williams Sonoma or Ashton Green, and ergonomic cooking utensils are as pleasing to look at as they are to use.
5 In the kitchen, set aside an area purely for display.
These areas are as important as in any other room in your house. Consider mounting a shelf with decorative corbels or mouldings and arrange mugs, bowls, or even a framed picture on top. If you're blessed with recessed niches in the wall, or a section of wall where one can be built in, use it to display a single flower in a tall vase or a thin sculpture.
6 For that matter, artwork in the kitchen is underrated.
Mount your art away from wet or greasy areas such as the stove, that's all. As an alternative to prints or paintings, have children's artwork framed (a lovely alternative to the old refrigerator-art gallery routine) or hang a row of family photos.
7 The area above cabinets provides a great visual opportunity. Wicker baskets are a classic look-and a great place to store out-of-season or less-used items-but consider alternatives such as ceramic pottery bowls, or perhaps a collection of antique kitchen implements such as cast-iron scales. Be sure to keep the proportions of display items relatively large to avoid a "bitty" look.
8 If all else fails, choose a theme around colour.
Pick a cheery colour that complements the permanent elements in your kitchen, and gear all your accessorizing to that: placemats, casual tableware, oven mitts, tea towels, even a dish strainer and plastic cooking utensils. IKEA, Pier 1 and many specialty kitchen stores often have a large selection of colour-coordinated items, and they're a great way to perform an instant makeover on any kitchen, old or new.