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How to Decorate Kitchen Counters—Without Cluttering Your Prep Space

If you've never given much thought to what's worth displaying on your kitchen counters, it's high time we changed all that. Choosing the right elements—whether handy, decorative, or a combination of the two—can add some much-needed personality to the space that arguably gets the most use of any in your home. It's where friends and family gather, where morning conversations are had, and midnight snacks enjoyed, but it can also be a place to showcase your personality. Just remember: this is one space that can easily become cluttered, so keep your vision clear and concise. Here, we've gathered our best ideas for how to decorate kitchen counters without all the fuss.

Adam Albright

1. Corral a Collection

Use your countertops as a place to house your culinary collections—whether cookbooks, cutting boards, or platters leaned against the backsplash for display. Handed-down wooden spoons, a stack of collected dishes, and etched drinking glasses on a small tray can also provide a moment of interest or a conversation spark when guests gather in the kitchen. Just refer to the less-is-more mentality so your kitchen countertops don't become cluttered.

2. Bring Nature In

In a space that we spend so much time, consider adding in a dose of the great outdoors. Go with cut branches if you want all the glory and (almost) none of the work of a bouquet. They'll last far longer than their flowery counterparts. Tall branches make a statement on an island, but shorter stems can be just as pretty if placed on a countertop that falls below open shelving or cabinetry.

Edmund Barr

3. Limit Your Color Palette

To ensure a small kitchen doesn't get too busy, keep the palette to two or three main colors. If items on the countertop create a monotone effect, they'll keep the space from looking fussy or chaotic. Group similar-hued items together for an even tidier look. Here, a pop of green works as a secondary color, adding just a splash of color this kitchen needs to make a statement.

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Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

4. Make It Minimal

Varying countertop surfaces provides visual interest and can warm up a kitchen in a flash—no preheating needed. When mixing countertop materials, keeping the rest of the countertop decor minimal will keep the focus from getting lost or hidden behind the little details. The same can be said if you have one countertop material throughout your space, but prefer for it to be the statement maker. Thinking about where you want the eye to fall when entering the kitchen can help inform your countertop decor.

Shaun Sullivan

5. Create a Coffee Station

Make your countertops more efficient with a coffee or beverage station. With your essentials at the ready, your mornings will be a breeze. In order to keep cups or mugs from looking haphazard, corral them on a small tray so the arrangement looks intentional. Add a sugar bowl, small box of tea bags, or other accoutrements if space allows. If not, place them in a cabinet just above the countertop for easy grab-and-go access without taking up valuable countertop real estate.

James Nathan Schroder

6. Decorate Above Countertops

Keeping your countertops clean isn't just about a nightly tidy-up—it's about utilizing what's above and below, too, because we all know there's no such thing as too much storage in the kitchen. If your shelves are open, be sure the arrangements are well thought-out. Arrange section by section, taking a step back between each vignette to ensure they're work well together and aren't too busy. Make sure your countertops have minimal decor to prevent open shelves from looking too packed.

Kim Cornelison

7. Bring in Color

If your kitchen color palette features neutral or earth-tone shades, use countertops to bring in a pop of color. Flowers, fruit, and autumnal branches all fit the bill and are easy to swap out should you decide to play up another color or do without the hue entirely.

Kritsada Panichgul

8. Indulge Your Green Thumb

A kitchen herb garden plays double duty. It brings a lively bit of green into the space while also keeping the essential ingredients right where you want them—front and center. As long as you have adequate light and keep up with their care, there's no reason you can't have a countertop herb garden that thrives all year long. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for that glorious porch container of basil that positively withered away at the first sign of frost.


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