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.

By Caylin Harris | Updated Jan 26, 2016 04:34 PM

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Dark Cabinets

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


The White Stuff

White Kitchen

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


Up and Away

How to Organize a Kitchen

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


Forget Going Formal

Modern Kitchen

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


Natural-Looking Neutrals

Rustic Kitchen

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


Pops of Color

Colorful Kitchen

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


Counter Intuitive

Counter Space

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


Flower Power

Bunch of Flowers

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

Mix It Up

Mix Furniture

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


Concrete Counters

Concrete Kitchen Countertops

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


Add Color

Colorful Retro Kitchen

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


Space Saving S-Hooks

Add S-hook Storage

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


Display Your Collections

Display Collections in the Kitchen

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

Fun with Floors

Checkerboard kitchen 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

Pot Racks

Kitchen 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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