Design Inspiration

7 Easy Ways to Bring Joy to the Kitchen

Does your kitchen lack a feel-good vibe? Maybe too many high-tech materials come off a bit austere. Or perhaps the colors or furnishings lack warmth and hospitality. Don’t worry. Here are seven easy, low-impact ways you can help bring serenity, enjoyment and even a bit of humor into your kitchen.

1. Include natural finishes and textures for emotional warmth.

Sleek finishes are alluring because they’re easy to clean. But too much metal and high sheen can be overpowering, and can make your kitchen feel unwelcoming, harsh and cold.

Consider including natural materials to add warmth. A wood table and chairs, or even a few woven baskets or wooden spoons in a crock, can make all the difference in how your kitchen is emotionally perceived.

(Image: Photo by Leicht CA, Courtesy of Houzz)

You don’t need to forgo having a modern kitchen to create a sense of warmth. Even small touches can do the trick, like this hanging wood knife block.

Changing outdated, shiny cabinet hardware for wooden pulls is another way to make your kitchen easy on the eyes and spirit without breaking the bank.

(Image: Photo by Holly Marder, Courtesy of Houzz)

Kitchen Decorating Ideas That Bring Joy

2. Create the right mood with color.

Kitchens are a multitasking hive. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, most folks aim for a sense of serenity in their kitchen. The color scheme you choose can help steer the mood.

White, green and yellow are highlighted by feng shui experts as especially good colors for kitchens. White represents purity and cleanliness. Green is evocative of plant life, and is thought to nourish, calm and provide clarity.

Light colors, like the pale green shown in this example, are also more soothing to the nerves than more saturated hues.

Yellow is another good color for food prep areas. Reminiscent of the sun, yellow is cheery, uplifting and welcoming. Feng shui experts say it even aids in digestion and increases concentration. The key is to not go too bright with yellow and evoke the golden arches of fast food.

(Image: Photo by Ryan Garvin, Design by Brooke Wagner Design, Courtesy of Houzz)

3. Let your soft side show with fabric.

Use fabric to introduce color, pattern, texture and softness in one fell swoop. If your dining or breakfast bar chairs need a refresh, consider covering the seats with slipcovers. They’re removable and washable. Plus, fabric is a lot more comfortable to sit on than vinyl or leather, especially when wearing shorts in the summer. See how these soft and inviting indigo-hued slipcovers become the focal point in this kitchen?

If your dining chairs are wood, or you don’t want or need slipcovers, you can introduce fabric in your kitchen in other ways.

Display patterned tea towels or napkins instead of hiding them in a drawer or under the sink.

Softening the appearance of your kitchen through fabric shades is an option too.

(Image: Photo by Emily McCall, Courtesy of Houzz)

Switch Out Cabinet Hardware for a Quick and Easy Fix

4. Make the rounds for comfort.

One way to make your kitchen more inviting is to nix some sharp corners in favor of curves. Curves are easier to maneuver around — fewer bangs on your hips and kids’ heads.

The sweeping curves of the bentwood chairs and round table, and the serpentine shape of the settee, create a more welcoming environment than a boxy, squared-off alternative.

(Image: Photo by Simon Wood, Design by Sanctum Design, Courtesy of Houzz)

5. Get hung up on the art of calm.

Like selecting soothing, healthful color schemes, incorporating relaxing artwork also will improve the vibe of your kitchen.

This dreamy artwork surely will calm anyone’s end-of-the-day nerves and make dinner prep more mindful and enjoyable.

A framed poster, print or other piece of art can offer the same effect.

(Image: Photo by Griffin Enright Architects, Courtesy of Houzz)

Meanwhile, this pottery collection adds a sense of earthiness and history to an otherwise minimalist home.

(Image: Photo by Chris Snook, Courtesy of Houzz)

Feng-Shui-Approved Shades of Green for the Kitchen

6. Grow something.

Having herbs flourish in your window looks pretty, purifies the air and makes cooking with fresh herbs a snap. Not having to drop $4 on a handful of packaged basil at the grocery store is enticing too. Plus, growing plants is mentally therapeutic.

If you don’t have room on your windowsill, you can inset a glass shelf into the window frame. This kitchen window uses Ikea containers with a rail and hook system.

7. Don’t forget to add fun.

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine and stress reliever. There’s no reason your kitchen needs to be so serious, so introduce bits of fun where you can.

Making refrigerator magnets is a great way to repurpose Scrabble letters — especially if your game box is missing some pieces and otherwise unusable.

(Image: Photo by Alison Kandler Interior Design, Courtesy of Houzz)

Consider saving room for something unexpected too. Designer Alison Kandler says this antique horse statue was a flea market find. Surely it gets noticed here behind the kitchen sink more than it would sitting in a corner elsewhere in the house.

Although not a new concept, chalkboard paint is another fun way to invite discourse in the kitchen.

Even a simple serving tray can add humor to your day.

About the Author

Karen Egly-Thompson, Houzz Contributor. A former interior designer turned interiors writer, I have a mild obsession with tile, paint, quilts and rugs. I cover stories ranging from Houzz Tours to decorating ideas, but primarily focus on design materials.