How To Decorate Kitchen Countertops For Both Function And Beauty

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Figuring out how to decorate kitchen countertops so that they are both functional and beautiful can be tricky! Here’s how to strike the balance between the two, without a lot of clutter.

It’s been a few years since we completed our total kitchen remodel and my decor since then really hasn’t changed all that much. It’s been functioning just fine, but it was high time for a little zhushing up, if you know what I mean.

kitchen counter decorations against a white subway tile backsplash

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When decorating your kitchen, it can be tough to strike that perfect balance between keeping the kitchen counters functional, yet pretty. So if you’ve ever been stuck on how to decorate your kitchen countertops, here’s what I like to do.

HOW TO STYLE KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS

STEP 1: Establish your best/favorite work zones.

I have two spots in my kitchen where the majority of my work and cooking happen, so the counter decor in those areas definitely needs to be kept to a minimum.

One change that I recently made was to move my paper towels off of the end of my island, closest to the refrigerator. This is a major work zone in my kitchen and the upright paper towel holder was constantly getting knocked over and was just generally getting in the way all.the.time. Drove me nuts!

end view of kitchen with white cabinets and gray island

We don’t use paper towels that often, so my solution was to add Command Strip hooks to the end of the island to hold hand towels, which we do use all the time. The paper towels were moved to a holder on the inside of our pantry door, which is only a step or two away.

I replaced the paper towel holder with a large basket to hold produce that doesn’t go in the refrigerator. It’s super easy to slide if off to one side as needed, but is a pretty textural element on an otherwise cold, hard surface like a countertop.

kitchen counter decorations against a white subway tile backsplash

STEP 2: Determine which of those work zones need to be pretty as well as functional.

Baskets and trays will be your best friend when it comes to decorating your counters in this instance. That’s definitely the case where my coffee maker resides. Not only is it a coffee and hot tea station, it’s also where I make popcorn every single night.

To add warmth, beauty and function to this otherwise sterile area, I used a long wooden tray beside the coffee maker, which holds my coffee pods, popcorn, teabags and artificial sweetener packets in pretty canisters with wood tops.

view of kitchen with white cabinets and gray island

gray canisters and coffee maker in a kitchen with white cabinets and subway tile backsplash

Another kitchen counter decoration area that needs to be functional, is to the left of my cooktop. I like be able to quickly and easily grab wooden spoons and other long cooking utensils while I’m cooking, without having to go digging around in a drawer.

I know that many people like to decorate their counters with a crock to contain those types of things, but a large vase with a wide mouth suits my style better.

To warm the area up, I added a cutting board (that I actually use!) behind the container and added a cute little wooden mortar and pestle off to the side.

kitchen counter decorations against a white subway tile backsplash

You may not think about the looks of the top of your stove or cooktop, but I’ve always wanted to have one of those gorgeous six burner cooktops with a griddle in the middle to give me a place to keep a pretty spoon rest and other functional items at my fingertips.

I came up with a cheater solution for my five burner cooktop! My cooktop has a center super-burner in the middle, that I rarely use, so to give me the look and functionality of a griddle, I measured the area and purchased an inexpensive burner griddle and topped it with a pair of wooden salt and pepper mills and a pretty marble spoon rest. I have to say that I love the look!

Now I no longer have to dig around in a drawer for my spoon rest or grab the salt and pepper out of the pantry.

wood salt and pepper mill and marble spoon rest on top of burner griddle

wood salt and pepper mill and marble spoon rest on top of burner griddle and other decorative items on countertop

STEP 3: Decorate kitchen countertops in spots that are purely for looks.

On kitchen counters, it looks best to arrange counter decor in groups instead of spreading multiple items out along the wall. I also pay attention to how deep my grouping is. I don’t want to use up too much of that valuable real estate!

To the right of my cooktop, is an area that I don’t consider to be one of my important work zones, but of course I wanted some counter decorations there.

In this spot, I stood three differently sized cutting boards behind my dog treat container and a textural basket. The basket has come in handy for adding just a touch of seasonal decor, since as this bird’s nest with eggs for a nod toward the spring season.

kitchen counter decorations against a white subway tile backsplash

STEP 4: Decorate the countertops in the areas that are purely for function.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. This is a kitchen after all, so you’re bound to have parts of your counters that contain purely functional items, such as small kitchen appliances that you use frequently and don’t want to put in a cabinet or closet.

kitchen counter decorations against a white subway tile backsplash

There are multiple ways to address this counter decorating dilemma without “ruining” the aesthetics of your kitchen!

  • If the item has a beauty on it’s own, place it where it can been seen and admired. That’s the case with my white mixer. I think it’s so pretty that I’m happy to keep it on display.
  • Consider decorating around the item to incorporate it into the countertop decor, such as what I did with my very utilitarian coffee maker.
  • If possible, relegate your items to one spot that isn’t right in the middle of the counters. This worked well in my kitchen in the corner beside my refrigerator.
  • Today’s small appliances come in many colors, which can be great for making the appliance a featured item. If you don’t want your small appliances to stand out though, try to match the finish of them to the large appliances in your kitchen.

end view of kitchen with white cabinets and gray island

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11 Comments

  1. Kathy Menold says:

    Your kitchen looks lovely plus functional. As none of us live in magazine photos in real life I liked that you addressed the fact that we need a kitchen we can use and that we all need to have small appliances and utensils on our counters. You have shown us that can be done without being cluttered. Thankyou and enjoy our pre spring weather here in N.C.

    1. Thank you, Kathy! I’ve tried to live in a magazine worthy kitchen before by putting all of my small appliances in cabinets or in the pantry, but that just doesn’t work for me. This weather is giving me big time spring fever for sure! Hope you enjoy it too.

  2. Karen Glaser says:

    Thank you for all the great tips! It looks lovely!

    Do you remember where your runner is from? I am looking to update mine.

    thanks, Karen

    1. Thank you! My runner is an outdoor rug from Ballard Designs.

  3. Darrel L Handgraaf says:

    I didn’t know you put a griddle on the stove! Wow!

    Your husband, Pookie

    1. It’s there for you to grill burgers on! Ha!

  4. I wish I had as much counter space as you do! I like how you have kept out frequently used appliances and still have a few functional decorations. Your kitchen is beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much, Melanie!

  5. Nancy carroll says:

    Love all the wooden elements in your kitchen that compliment the shelves in the breakfast area. ❤️ Sounds like Pookie needs to do a little more cooking if he hasn’t noticed the griddle before now. 🤣

  6. Judy Hubbard says:

    Your kitchen is just gorgeous! Wow, and you have so much counter space compared to my kitchen! However, I definitely took away some great ideas from this blog, thanks!

  7. Thank you for these steps! I recently had my cabinet refinisher repaint my kitchen cabinets and my husband installed a new backsplash. With these updates, I’ve been trying to find a way to decorate my kitchen and counters without it looking too cluttered. I just ordered a wooden mortar and pestle and some marble cutting board, and I can’t wait to get them and decorate!