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9 Easy Breezy Ways To Make Your Kitchen Counter Look Better

It’s truly so easy for the kitchen counter to become a prime dumping ground spot as well as a “stuff haven.” I mean, unless you have endless easily accessible storage, it can just swiftly look overcrowded! Or hey, maybe you have a nearly empty countertop and are looking for some easy-to-execute idea to make it look more intentional…and pretty:) This post is for everyone!

But let’s first start with a good cleaning. That could mean physically removing crumbs and old grime and/or clearing out clutter. Is there a stack of mail you need to go through? Do you have one or more small appliances you hardly ever use that would be better tucked away in a cabinet? Whatever it is, decluttering is key. While there is always the exception, I think we all function better when our spaces are calm and neat. Now onto the pretty stuff!

#1: Serving Boards

design by velinda hellen design | styled by emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda’s first freelance client reveal: molding the ‘builder-grade budget’ + where they saved & splurged

Beautiful and potentially practical! It’s no shock that this is the first rec because pretty serving boards can be found in a ton (all??) of our kitchen reveals. They are perfect for adding texture, dimension, and can also easily cover outlets or hide cords. Plus when they are leaning against the wall they take up almost no space! Nothing not to love:)

So here are our tips:

  • We recommend using two boards as an easy no-fail number but one beautiful big board or even three can work too.
  • Vary the sizes, shapes, tones, and even materials (peek my striped marble and little wood pairing above).
  • Mix up the orientation too! One vertical and one horizontal.
  • We love vintage boards and you can find ones at great prices.
  • Just to be clear these are more display boards than the hardworking, everyday boards for actual cutting and chopping. However, if you have a beautiful cutting board, show it off!

Here are some great options:

Mango Wood Cheese Board | Tikal Wood Serving Board | Walnut Cutting Board

Modern Wood Board | Large Double Handle Wood Serve Board | Antique Vintage European Bread Cheese Board

#2: Decant

design by velinda hellen for ehd | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda’s tiny kitchen makeover takeover

Can decanting seem a little unnecessary? Sure. In no world do we think everyone needs to buy matching containers to transfer all of their already “contained” products. However, for your counter, if visual clutter stresses you out or you prefer a more streamlined look and color palette then this is a great idea.

design by arlyn hernandez | styled by emily bowser | photo by veronica crawford | from: arlyn’s rental kitchen reveal

Know that you can start really small and just decant something like your dish soap like Arlyn did above. I actually have that dispenser too (from Target) and it’s been great. The neon tones of a dish soap bottle can be pretty distracting, no? I actually put my dispenser in my sink since it’s large and that gives me more counterspace.

But maybe you have coffee pods that could use a pretty home next to your coffee machine or you could decant a few pastas (or protein powders) that would look lovely in a pretty container. I have a bunch in my kitchen and I love them.

Fun Fact! Foods like pasta, rice, nuts, etc. can act as additional patterns and textures if you opt for clear glass containers.

Here are some handpicked ones:

Stoneware Tilley Food Storage Canister | Dansk Niklas Airtight Containers | Glass Food Storage Jars with Airtight Clamp Lids

Essential Glass Storage Container | Airtight Food Jars with Bamboo Wooden Lids | Stoneware Canister with Wood Lid Cream

#3: Get a Tray

We might love trays more than we love serving boards. MAYBE. They are good for everything! They are the zone makers of the kitchen countertop. We tend to use them for corraling decanted oils and everyday kitchen tools and coffee stations but they could also easily work for collecting things like mail or important papers.

Here are some very pretty options:

Acacia Modern Serving Platter | Oslo Wood Tray | Scallop Natural Woven Fiber Tray

Footed Marble Countertop Tray | Forest Stripe Tray | Marble Rectangle Tray

#4: Don’t Forget Art

This one is highly personal in terms of style but don’t deprive your kitchen of some art. What a perfect opportunity to add your personality to your space! If you can’t make any wall holes, you can either lean them or hang them on tile with removable adhesive (as long as they aren’t too heavy). If you can’t tell we love a little vintage piece which you can find for such affordable prices at a flea market or thrift store.

But for online options, here are some we love:

Desert Sketch Framed Wall Art | Hold Tight Baby – Art Print | CLEMENTINE #3 Art Print

Cheetah Framed Wall Art | Vintage Framed Canvas Art | Landscape Collage 101

#5: If Needed Upgrade Your Basics

Look. If you have perfectly great basics like a utensil holder, paper towel holder, a pinch bowl (if you use one), etc then ignore this section. OR maybe look around your house to see if a wide-top vase you already have could be your new utensil holder. No need to spend any money! That’s all to say, if you’ve been wanting to add to or switch up the style of your kitchen, getting a couple of new pieces (or new to the room) could change the whole look and feel of your space. It’s truly wild what one swap can do. Consider the material, shape, and pattern to add in the look you’re going for.

For new suggestions, check these cuties out:

Terrafirma Utensil Holder | Black Kitchen Utensil Holder | Tiburon Pitcher

Wood and Marble Paper Towel Holder | Simple Wood Paper Towel Holder | Toyon Travertine And Brass Paper Towel Holder

Scallop Edge Pinch Bowls | The Salt Sphere | Mini Snack Bowl Set

#6: Add Lighting

Don’t think your kitchen couldn’t also use some mood lighting. It can! Plus it will look and feel great, in the evening especially. We love love love a little mini lamp if you have the space. It’s another opportunity to add some style and character that is a little unexpected. Even a pretty under-cabinet light can do the trick if you don’t have counter space.

Mini Rattan Wrap Stick Table Lamp | Seine Portable Table Lamp | Battery-Operated Rotatable Magnetic Light

#7: Use Your Walls

Not all of us are blessed to have ample counter space so this is when we need to look to the walls! Not only is hanging things like knives and pots on the wall functional, but it can also be pretty. The EHD alum proves that through all of their kitchens (the ones that are in this section:)) Bower’s kitchen above is exhibit A!

design by velinda hellen for ehd | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda’s tiny kitchen makeover takeover

Then Velinda even got a little creative by using what I believe is a towel rack and attached it to her (very low) ceiling. Genius! Also, those knives look so beautiful on the tiled backsplash. The subtle light blue and silver tones are so pretty together.

And finally, Sara took another approach by placing her rails under her shelf! So while they aren’t used for knives or pots, they are helping to clear up some useful counter space.

Here are some great options to help your counter space crowding:

Magnetic Knife Holder | Contemporary Magnetic Knife Bar | Powerful Magnetic Knife Strip

Emery Pot Rack Bar | Copper Pot Rail | Enclume Copper Wall Rack

#8: Add An Accessory Or Two

So maybe you are mostly happy with the look of your countertops but it could use a little zhushing. I’m not talking anything major but let me tell you a nice vase can go a long way! You don’t even need to fill it with flowers necessarily but that’s always an option! My dad says “You should always have something living in your house ” when talking about flowers. Of course, one could argue that cut flowers aren’t exactly “living,” at least not for long, but it’s a nice sentiment that I follow 50% of the time…maybe. But you know what does live on forever? A great vase! See how much they add to these kitchens?

photo by kaitlin green | from: farmhouse kitchen reveal

One other fun accessory that’s also pretty useful is a cookbook stand. Em is a huge fan and I have to agree. It’s a nice tall decor piece (varying heights with accessories is ideal) that really makes you look like a great cook even if you may be more of a novice. They are great in a corner but can really go anywhere you’d like. No rules as long as it’s away from an open flame:)

Here are our pretty picks:

Tall Carved Ceramic Vase | Aria Looped Vase | Low Stoneware Vase

Black Metal Tabletop Frame Easel Stand | Walnut Cookbook Stand | Wood Cookbook Holder with Metal Ledge

#9: Books!

You’ve made it to the end! And it’s as easy as it sounds. All you need are your favorite cookbooks (or get some:)) and show them off. If you want a really minimalist neutral look then you should A.) Not display your cookbooks or B.) Choose ones that are in a simple, neutral color palette. I know the second one may sound silly and I’m not telling anyone to avoid colorful cookbooks. But if you want a totally neutral-toned kitchen, maybe keep the brightly colored ones in a cabinet:)

The first easy way to display your cookbooks (aside from a stand:)) is to place them in ascending order where the tallest one is on the wall and a pretty bookend is next to the shortest one. This makes them easily accessible and cute decor.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: portland project kitchen

Don’t worry if you only have a few. See how pretty that stack of three is in the Portland Project kitchen??

design by nine arrows | styling by emily bowser & erik staalberg | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the new design rules

But if you prefer a horizontal stack, maybe throw a cute vase on top to create a sweet little vignette when you aren’t using them:)

Hope this was helpful and even a little inspiring to tackle a project you’ve been potentially wanting to get done:) Happy styling (and cooking)!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Rosa Beltran | Styled by Velinda Hellen | From: The New Design Rules

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8 days ago

Love this. In the middle of a full basement reno and will use this guide as inspiration for the kitchen downstairs. Thanks, Jess! 🌸

8 days ago

OH I do enjoy a pretty styled kitchen, or multipes in one post! Living in an old but renovated bungalow home, my kitchen is visible from all areas. And so was the sponge, ew. The natural ones were better visually and environmentally as compared to a yellow and green scrubber, but what really upped the game? A suction cup sponge holder that attached inside my sink where the sponge now lives and dries. Best few bucks for a big impact!

8 days ago

Love these ideas! I have a small apartment kitchen and getting a salt cellar that matched my countertops was huge in improving my cooking (much easier to add a pinch here and there!) without adding visual clutter. I have this one from Amazon (it looks gray in the photos but is white IRL). I drink a lot of tea, and swapping my older electric kettle for a white kettle with a wood handle (mine is from Fellow) was also a huge visual upgrade, and feels like a small luxury every time I use it. I also searched high and low for a non-ugly, non-giant dish drying rack and settled on this one, which has worked out well, but would love any other recs people have!

8 days ago

As far as decanting dish soap into a prettier container/bottle, does anyone have any suggestions for the the Dawn Powerwash spray bottle? Love the product but the bottle is not pretty on my counter.

8 days ago
Reply to  Sunny

Couple ideas… The power spray liquid is easy to decant. Just twist off the top. Proctor & Gamble also uses that self powered spray in a number of different items: Clorox Disinfectant and Mr Clean in white bottle , Gain Power Wash in green bottle, Use the inside up and cut off the plastic label. Alternatively, you can also buy the self powered spray bottle on Amazon. Last time I looked, there were white and black colors in different sizes. If the self powered spray isn’t important to you, you can decant it into any number of pretty spray bottles to your heart’s delight! Hope one of those works for you

7 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I’ve also thought about putting the power wash in a tall basket – my real go to is to just keep it under the sink though, same with the compost.
Anyway great post – I just finished a kitchen reno and styling it for practical use has been a nice upgrade between visual interest and utility.

8 days ago

I can get on board with all of these except for decanting which I find the most colossal waste of time and effort for minimal benefit.
For me, I would add a nice kettle as mine is constantly on the boil because I have 20 cups of tea a day (only a slight exaggeration).

8 days ago
Reply to  Sally

I agree. I like acrylic boxes instead to store multiple bags of beans. I have one for pasta, one for cans, one for smaller baking ingredients, one for candy. It helps with finding things and ensuring they don’t get buried under other things. It works in my small pantry, whereas decanting would add work and would take more space.

8 days ago
Reply to  Sally

I think decanting depends on the kitchen. I don’t have any open storage in my kitchen so no need to decant anything but if I needed to use open shelving for functional food storage, I’d consider it. In the past, I stored pasta in pretty glass jars on top of the fridge and gained some extra cupboard space in the process.

8 days ago

I have a super tiny kitchen and have to use the counter for real storage. I’d love to see some real life pics of how people store their produce and cooking tools, two things I only have room for on my countertops. Any ideas?

7 days ago
Reply to  Cali

I too, have a tiny kitchen. For fruit/produce, I got a two-tier wire fruit basket that just fits under the upper cabinet. The two towers are nice to store more items and separate certain things. For cooking utensils, I have a few small ones in a drawer but most of my drawers are too shallow, and I only have a few. I went looking for a canister to store them on the counter. Most of the ones marketed as “utensil holders” were too small to hold more than a few spatulas or wildly expensive. I ended up finding a nice ceramic planter that is big enough to fit all the utensils and was very reasonably priced. My dad did something similar with an old pickle crock from a vintage store.

7 days ago
Reply to  Cali

I’m with you on the tiny kitchen! I use this two-tier fruit/produce basket on my counter, it is functional and has a small footprint. And I use these slim containers in my lower cupboard to store produce that fares better in the dark (potatoes, onions, and garlic). I installed an additional shelf in my lower cupboard with 3 inches of space above it to store utensils and pot lids, because I hate clutter, but before that I used a vintage ceramic crock similar to this one. It helps to have your cooking tools match! Looks slightly less cluttered. Lots of options like this on Amazon, or Public Goods, or vintage.

Julie S
7 days ago

I wholeheartedly agree with these tips and use eight of the ten in my current kitchen! It is no showstopper, but it’s gone from heavy and blah to cheery and charming since I moved in 😉

7 days ago

Love this post!! I’m looking at my kitchen and realized i do have a lot of the styling you suggest. I have a few vintage bread boards, pride of place is a board in the shape of a little pig, that my Dad made in high school..I use it for charcuterie. Dish soap and hand soap are decanted into two Prosecco bottles, and some whimsical vegetable pictures….always enjoy your posts.

8 minutes ago

Cute shots! I am fully Team Decant, after living through a rat episode…critters can’t chew through glass jars!! Plus, I’ve entered my bulk grocery and meal prep phase, and mason jars full of beans, seeds, and pasta means I’m set for quite a while.

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