15 Ideas to Steal from Real People's Kitchens

Sure, it’s natural to covet the gorgeous kitchens you see on glamourous design shows or in glossy magazines, but sometimes it’s even more satisfying to see what mere mortals are capable of accomplishing in their own homes. Indulge your inner voyeur, and take a peek at these supremely real kitchens! You're sure to find some ideas that you can put into practice in your own home.

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  1. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark


    For tiny, sun-starved kitchens, bright colors will lift and brighten the space. But if you're blessed with lots of natural light, don’t be shy about opting for a darker hue like the one this couple chose for their kitchen cabinets. Not only does the color make the cabinets look incredibly streamlined, but it also hides marks and messes much better than traditional white.

    Related:  Designers Tell All—Top 12 Kitchen Trends Revealed


  2. The White Stuff


    Design gurus will often tell you that a pop of color in any room is a must. But don’t ever feel obligated to commit to color if you don’t want to! This monochromatic kitchen looks clean and sleek. Its white cabinetry all but disappears to ensure the real focal point in this breezy kitchen is the tasty food that's made there.

    Related:  8 Decorating Rules Meant to Be Broken—and 1 to Live By


  3. Up and Away


    Short on cabinets and kitchen drawers? Go vertical and make use of all that empty wall space. Open shelving can create storage space where once there was none and keeps everyday dishes within easy reach. For something a little bolder, try hanging a pot rack from the ceiling, as shown here. 

    Related:  11 Inspiring Kitchens That Defy Their Small Size


  4. Forget Going Formal


    The kitchen is the heart of the home, a natural gathering place for the whole family. If that's true for your household, consider moving the dining room right into the kitchen. Sure, an eat-in kitchen is less formal, but designing your spaces to reflect how your family actually uses them makes for a more organic home.

    Related:  10 Alternatives to a Formal Dining Room


  5. Natural-Looking Neutrals


    When you decide to go natural in the kitchen, you run the risk of overdoing heavy, dark colors and materials. This kitchen, though, strikes a nice balance. The neutral floors and rustic kitchen island warm up the room just enough, while white walls and backsplashes keep the space feeling open and bright. 

    Related:  17 Backsplashes for a Unique Kitchen


  6. Pops of Color


    To perk up a dark or industrial kitchen, you need not shell out for a full remodel. Instead, inject a bit of personality with small details like colorful or mismatched chairs, bright oven mitts and tea towels, or the occasional colorful appliance. You can choose to buy new, of course, or just use a can of spray paint to convert a smattering of fixtures you already have on hand.

    Related:  Going Bold—10 Kitchens That Pop with Color


  7. Counter Intuitive


    Ample countertops are welcome prep zones for any home chef. If your kitchen leaves something to be desired in that area, go ahead and purchase some freestanding counter space like this cleverly placed wooden island. It’s easy and affordable, and makes a huge difference in efficiency and cooking comfort.

    Related:  7 Countertop Materials You Can Actually Afford


  8. Flower Power


    Fresh flowers or herbs add a vibrant touch to any room, and their natural note is nowhere more welcome than in the kitchen. This temporary decor is easy to switch out to renew your kitchen color scheme, or move aside for a big dinner prep. Not only does this simple addition breathe life into the space, but depending on your plants of choice, your living accessories can double as a useful cooking tool: fresh herbs.

    Related:  7 Herbs That Clean House

    flickr.com / via Betta Living

  9. Mix It Up


    Why buy a full furniture set when it's so much fun to go eclectic? Particularly if a full set won't quite fit in your kitchen, forgo it altogether. Instead, mix and match pieces that you truly love for a style mash-up that feels acquired and not purchased.

    Related:  10 Best Flea Markets for Cool Old Finds


  10. Concrete Counters


    Concrete counters are a great low-cost alternative to stone or solid surface. If you don't have the patience to pour and install solid concrete counters, you can give your old countertops a skim coat to achieve the same look. Just be sure to use a high quality protective sealer to minimize scratching.

    Related: 8 Countertops You'd Never Believe Were Handmade


  11. Add Color


    Give your kitchen a retro design twist by incorporating colorful appliances, cookware, and accessories. Choose a color palette and have some fun. Even a tea towel can make a vibrant statement hanging on the door handle of your oven.

    Related: 12 Ideas to Steal from Vintage Kitchens


  12. Space Saving S-Hooks


    A simple towel rack, lined with S-hooks makes super-efficient storage for pot holders, cutting boards, large utensils, and more. Hung on the side of a base cabinet, it makes all these items easy to reach while you’re prepping meals.

    Related: 12 Bite-Size Projects to Rescue Your Tiny Kitchen


  13. Display Your Collections


    Make a home in the kitchen for your collections for a quick decor fix. Whether it’s delft, teapots, or kitschy salt & pepper shakers, a proudly displayed collection brings instant character—and conversation starters—to the space.

    Related: 9 Inventive Ways to Display a Collection

    Zillow Digs home in Sag Harbor, NY

  14. Fun with Floors


    Years of kitchen life can be hard on floors, especially hardwood. But beat up floors can be transformed into something fresh and new with the addition of paint. The checkerboard pattern on this kitchen floor brings an air of classic fun to the room.

    Related: 8 Ways to Stop Hating Your Floor—Without Replacing It

    Zillow Digs home in Greer, SC

  15. Pot Racks


    A pot rack does several jobs. Naturally, it provides convenient storage for pots & pans, but it also offers a spot to display a collection of copper cookware, or baskets. Not only that, but it provides a focal point for the room, and keeps your most used cooking essentials within easy reach.

    Related: Buy or DIY - 8 Clever Solutions for Storing Pots and Pans

    Zillow Digs home in San Marcos, CA

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