In today’s post I’m sharing a few little tricks I’ve picked up to make a kitchen look like it’s straight out of a magazine! Here’s how I style a magazine-worthy kitchen.
When we go into a beautiful home to photograph it for a local home builder or cabinet maker, we always end up chatting with the home owners. It’s really one of my favourite parts of the job. 🙂 Of course, we try to style the spaces beautifully for the photos, but I often feel like I’m over-stepping my boundaries a little by moving home owners’ things out of the way and putting my stuff in place. The funny thing is that nearly every time, the home owners remark on how much they enjoy the experience and how neat it is to see what someone else would do with the space. They often say that they just don’t know where to begin when it comes to adding all the finishing touches in their beautiful new kitchen or bathroom and they appreciate someone giving them some ideas. Since this seems to be such a common situation, I thought that I could make a pretty useful little blog post by sharing a few of the things that I’ve learned that just always seem to work. 🙂
All of the kitchen featured below are from shoots we did for Oak Barrel Cabinetry, an amazing local cabinet maker and design service. If you’re from the area and looking for a new kitchen or bathroom, definitely check them out. All of the clients of theirs that we meet just rave about how much they loved working with this company.
Styling Tricks I Use for a Magazine-Worthy Kitchen
I always always bring at least a few beautiful cutting boards along with me to a shoot. They instantly add texture and warmth, which is often needed in a space with shiny stone counters and cabinets with a painted finish. I like to use them to kind of “anchor” little groupings of items so smaller pieces don’t look like they’re just clutter floating around the room. They’re also great to add a bit of interest in a kitchen where the backsplash is really simple or where the backsplash hasn’t been installed yet, which is often the case when we come into a brand new space to do photos. I like to layer them in pairs quite often, or I use them on an island as kind of a tray to pull a few pretty items together.
Oversized Vases and Tall Greenery on an Island
If you have an island in your kitchen, you just can’t beat the impact of a giant vase, filled with some kind of extra tall greenery or floral. I’m not saying that something smaller in scale and lower will never work, but something tall is just a thing that works every time. Just a little note on scale: Newer kitchens are often HUGE compared to ones built 20-30+ years ago. If you’ve just renovated and installed a new, modern kitchen, knocking out a few walls along the way as people often do these days, any item that would have been appropriate in your old kitchen will probably look tiny. The right vase for this application will probably seem absolutely giant to you when you first pick it up in your hands, but once it’s in place on your island, it will suddenly look like just the right size.
Fruit and Veggies in Beautiful Bowls
This is an easy one because you can take care of this when you do your grocery shopping every week. The simplest way to make this look a little more stylish and a little less like you just haven’t put your groceries away is to stick to just one type of fruit in the beautiful bowl that you decide to display. It just always looks good and adds life and colour where you need it most without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Two Favourite Textures to Mix: Rounded Glass and Rattan or Grainy Wood
If you aren’t sure what type of items to pair together in a little grouping somewhere, this is a pretty surefire combination. Pair a rounded glass item, something like a bottle vase or a low glass vase that’s almost shaped like a sphere with something rougher like a basket or tray in rattan, or a cutting board with a really striking grain pattern in it. In a kitchen, something in wood often just makes more sense, whereas in a bathroom, you might more easily use the same combo, but replace the wood with something woven like a basket. The trick is that the glass has to be rounded and kind of balloon-shaped. There’s just something about the way that type of vessel catches the light that works so well. A straight glass cylinder vase just doesn’t work quite as well for some reason. If the glass happens to be colored instead of clear, even better. 🙂
Note the wood cutting board paired with the rounded glass vase on the island in this photo. There’s also a rattan-wrapped demijohn on the counter behind, which still counts because it falls into the same sightline as the glass vase.
A Crock of Utensils Next to the Stove
It’s so funny because a lot of newly renovated kitchens have amazing storage features cleverly tucked away in drawers and cabinets next to the stove that store all the tools that you need for cooking. We all love to see these storage ideas and they’re amazingly functional when you’re preparing food, but when it comes to styling, somehow a stove always looks a little sad without a crock of cooking utensils next to it. We just naturally want a kitchen to have a bit of a culinary look to it and it almost always feels like something is missing when you don’t see those wooden spoons and shiny ladles. It’s one of those things you don’t really notice, but you see it subconsciously and it just feels right.
So those are some of my favourite kitchen styling tricks! Try one or two of them out and let me know what you think! Follow along with our little photo project on Instagram so you can see more of the beautiful kitchens we’ve been visiting!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.