When it comes to decorating, a kitchen is different than any other room: There is an emphasis on function, a prescribed layout with fixtures that cannot move, and most of the "furniture" is built in—in the form of cabinets. But that doesn't mean the space cannot be beautiful. With a plan that encompasses these features, you can realize the vision of a fab kitchen theme.
Probably the most popular decorating style in a kitchen is a classic, traditional look. Its hallmarks are cabinet doors with raised panels, oiled-bronze hardware, and molding embellishments. Throughout the space, there is an emphasis on medium to dark wood tones. Flooring might be hardwood or tile. Window treatments feature patterned fabrics with flourishes, such as fringe trim. Typical light fixtures include chandeliers with shaded bulbs. A multicultural twist on the traditional look is to incorporate English, French, or Italian elements, which might include wood ceiling beams, floral chintz curtains, painted cabinets, patterned tiles on the backsplash, or a terra-cotta tile floor.
A modern or contemporary-style kitchen is a popular choice because it works well with stainless-steel appliances and fixtures. It offers a clean look with sleek, flat cabinet doors, countertops with square edges, spare or no window treatments, and architectural light fixtures. Wood tones range from very dark to very light, and often the cabinets are painted a color. To give industrial flavor to a modern-style kitchen, choose commercial-grade appliances, a restaurant-style faucet, and open shelving that displays cooking implements and dinnerware.
Nothing is friendlier than a cozy cottage kitchen. Key to this look is a mix of humble materials: Painted- or weathered-wood cabinets mix with beaded-board paneling for the walls, backsplash, or ceiling; wicker barstools might pull up to a butcher-block counter. To achieve a casual unfitted look, a cottage kitchen might feature open shelves and a free-floating island, cart, or table. Accessories sometimes include vintage collectibles or farm wares. And because these spaces are often inspired by seaside or lakeside locales, the color schemes tend to reflect nature's hues: sunny yellow, deep-water blue, ripe apricot, or sea-glass green.
Many homeowners prefer the comfortable middle road in a kitchen—the style is neither too formal nor too spare. A blend of decorative elements that belong in a traditional, cottage, and contemporary kitchen yields a transitional look. This approachable and easy style can also reflect current trends, patterns, and color palettes. If you wish to emulate of-the-moment fashion, express it in easy-to-change accessories, such as tea towels, barstools, window valances, or wall art.