For many foodies, enjoying a delicious meal at home is just as important as seeking it out at a restaurant. A home kitchen should at the very least be functional, no matter how basic the setup. There's no need for the latest fancy equipment, but certain aspects of the layout can make it more effective, not to mention pleasant, to cook at home. While a standard kitchen design doesn't always leave room for creativity, there are still ways to incorporate your own flair into the most popular room in the house.

With complications and closures in the restaurant scene in the past two years, spending more time cooking at home has become increasingly common (via PR Newswire). If you're a new home cook who started during the pandemic, changing up your kitchen design can make your new hobby more enjoyable. Perhaps you've been able to save money by staying at home and can splurge to remodel your kitchen. Otherwise, there are a number of ways to spice up your kitchen decor without spending too much. Flashier kitchen trends come and go, but this selection of decor ideas is sure to make a timeless statement.

Open shelving

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Some of the most noticeable parts of a kitchen are the cabinets, as they're located just around eye level. Eliminating all of the extra bulk and simply leaving shelves is an option that can brighten up a small kitchen. Not only is the visual effect lighter, but being able to see all of your items makes them simpler to access. It also makes it easier to personalize your space — why not show off a large ceramic serving bowl or your collection of mugs and cookbooks? You'll also be able to customize the type of shelving you use. The Spruce suggests live-edge wood for a natural touch, or you could use glass to give the illusion of floating objects.

While there are many advantages to having all of your articles visible, it's worth considering a few elements before making the switch. Southern Living points out that unless an eclectic look doesn't bother you, the look is more streamlined if you have a matching set of chip-free dishes. Also, having everything out in the open means you'll probably have to dust more regularly. All the same, if you start using what you have more often since you can finally see it, it's probably a win-win!

Updated cabinet hardware


If you are in fact quite fond of your cabinets, then skip the open shelving, and instead think about enhancing their style with new handles and knobs. Unless you have custom cabinetry, you probably have fairly standard hardware. By swapping out old plain handles with a new style, your kitchen will get an immediate makeover. Also, some models of cabinet hardware are simply more ergonomic.

If you're not sure what to choose, some designs are especially well suited to specific styles of decor. Whether your kitchen has a retro vibe or is sleek and modern, there's a way to enhance the look. Start off by deciding if you want the hardware to be subtle or pop out. Country Living lists plenty of ideas, including a variety of materials, shapes, and styles. For a quirky look, incorporate vintage flatware or colorful flower-shaped knobs as your handles. Alternatively, knobs come in endless materials: porcelain, crystal, wood, brass, copper, and iron are some examples.

Natural earth tones


If you're looking for a color palette that's sure to outlast the ever-changing trends, neutral earth tones make a good foundation. First of all, there's something inherently soothing about soft colors inspired by nature. Whether you are painting your kitchen in earthy colors or incorporating wood into your design, the effect radiates warmth and coziness — not bad for a room that's at the heart of many homes.

Also, neutral colors are versatile enough to be matched with accent hues or patterned details, so you aren't stuck with one style forever. Neutral doesn't have to mean boring, and there are many ways to add charm. With a neutral-toned backdrop, simple additions in different shades or textures will stand out, creating a layered effect. Curated Interior encourages home decorators to look at all aspects of the kitchen when integrating an earthy style. Exposed wooden beams, wooden flooring, wicker seating, and copper accents are some examples to keep the style interesting.

Splashes of color


If you're not feeling a subtle neutral palette, or you want to add a vibrant element to your kitchen, there's nothing like a splash of color. For people who enjoy bold styles, decorating your kitchen with one bright color might be the right step. However, you'll want to be sure of your choice before you turn the room into an electric red sanctuary. All the same, there is certainly a middle ground to be found by adding touches of color in key spots.

If you aren't swapping out your kitchen cabinets for open shelving any time soon, Real Simple suggests painting them in a showstopping color. You don't even have to paint them all — a few select cabinets will add focal points to the space. Alternatively, painting a single accent wall, the ceiling, or choosing a colorful appliance will all create a lively aesthetic. If you're in need of inspiration, HGTV lays out the supposed effects of certain colors: Paint your kitchen in warm colors such as shades of red, orange, and yellow, and you might very well feel hungrier. Blue and green can be energizing, and lighter hues can streamline the overall appearance. Paler colors will also create the illusion of a larger space, which is useful if your kitchen is lacking in this department.

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Natural stone

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Earth tone decor often entails wood, but natural stone makes just as much of a statement. For starters, it is incredibly versatile and can be combined with various materials and styles of design. Stone comes in all shades, from white marble to dark granite, with different types of patterns as well. Since most of the colors are neutral — you guessed it — they'll pair with a rainbow of colors.

If you thought the only advantage was an enviable aesthetic, think again. Kitchen Magic reports that counters made of natural stone including quartz and granite are more hygienic and easier to clean than other popular materials. The Architect's Diary explains that rock is in fact highly durable and long-lasting, which makes it especially suitable for a room that receives so much traffic. The source points out that aside from being well-suited to use in the kitchen, natural stone is also a worthwhile investment that adds value to your home.

Tile designs


Having an aesthetically pleasing space is important for enjoying your kitchen enough that you are happy to spend endless hours in it. It might not actually make your food taste better, but you can bet that you'll feel inspired to create appealing dishes every time you look at the decor. Oh, and if you use patterned tiles for your backsplash, you might be able to skip the occasional clean-up and focus on enjoying whatever you've cooked up.

Love Property shares plenty of tile ideas to pique your creativity: Unique shapes, sizes, colors, patterns, and dual tones are some ways to spice up the look. Different materials will significantly shift the overall look — the same tiles in a matte or glossy finish have distinct appearances. Are you looking for a geometric design for your modern kitchen or would a classic style work better in your space? Tiles are definitely a place where you can let your personal taste shine. If you're undecided about a model, start by tiling a smaller area to get a feel for it.

Wallpaper accents


Depending on your kitchen wall support and budget, tiles might not be suitable for everyone. This doesn't have to mean you're stuck with solid colors all around. Wallpaper is straightforward and quick to install, especially if you use peel-and-stick types, according to Country Living. If you like a flashy look but tend to get bored quickly, wallpaper can easily be covered when you're ready for something new.

Instead of going full retro and wallpapering your entire kitchen with the same pattern, consider choosing a wall or even your ceiling as a focal point. By covering only a select area with wallpaper, you can bet that the visual effect will pop. The walls of a walk-in pantry make excellent candidates for wallpaper, since they are tucked away yet regularly visible. Another similar idea, shared by My Domaine, is to add a fun pattern to the interior of your cabinets. The options are endless, including whimsical designs, faux stone, wood, tiles, and a rainbow of colors.

Fewer open concept designs

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Open concept homes have certainly spent their time in the spotlight; however, there are some downfalls to this modern design. In particular, kitchens have their own set of characteristics that might not be ideal when spread all over the house. Take cooking smells — a kitchen fan can only do so much, and without a proper door to close, aromas from your fish curry will soon waft throughout the house. As for your other senses, Bob Vila points out that kitchens are often the source of high levels of noise: beeping, clanging, buzzing, and so on. While it might not seem so bad at first, someone is bound to get annoyed by the kettle whistling at 6 a.m. or the blender whirring over the sound of the television.

Most obviously, there is very limited privacy with an open concept design, which also means that any chaos in the kitchen will be immediately noticeable. While this is merely an embarrassment or nuisance if you have guests, if you have kids, they can easily knock over a glass pan or other cookware and injure themselves. Finally, if you like plenty of storage space, an open concept kitchen is missing the basis for many setups: walls.

Big pantries

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Spending more time cooking at home means that having more space to store ingredients and cooking supplies is increasingly important. Why stop at a few shelves to store dry goods when you can have an entire room? Although not all kitchens have the square footage to create a full-blown walk-in pantry, this is one spot where we think bigger is better. Homes & Gardens points out that eager cooks, organizers, and even minimalists will enjoy having a separate space to store their cooking articles.

A pantry's ultimate purpose is to be an area that seamlessly flows from your workspace, simplifying the often messy process of cooking. Consequently, you'll want to customize the space based on your culinary needs. If you only need your blender occasionally, save precious counter space by tucking it away in the pantry within easy reach. Consider including elements that make items more visible and accessible, such as extra lighting and open shelving (via Homes & Gardens). If you don't have the area for a walk-in pantry, you can also use floor-to-ceiling shelving in the kitchen to create a built-in pantry (via Home Stratosphere).

Stylish kitchen hoods


A kitchen vent hood has one fairly straightforward task: to eliminate grease, fumes, smoke, and other by-products of cooking. In particular, anyone with an open concept home layout will want to be certain that their vent is working well. All the same, functional concerns don't have to mean that hood aesthetics should be skipped over when designing a kitchen. This past year, the practical cover has undergone a style makeover, and hoods can now be found in all styles, colors, materials, and even a selection of fun shapes.

When choosing the right design, consider whether you want one that matches or contrasts your existing kitchen decor. HGTV highlights dozens of models, including styles with metal accents, marble, quartz, tiles, built-in cabinets, and more. From practical designs to those that simply look cool, think about revamping your kitchen hood for an easy renovation. The sky — or kitchen ceiling — is the limit!

Convenient storage

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If you can't quite fit in a walk-in pantry, there are many ways to improve your kitchen's organization and layout to make it a cooking haven. If you can see or easily access an item, chances are you will use it more regularly ... which might be great if you tend to splurge on unnecessary equipment that only builds up dust. As for dry goods and spices, glass containers make it a no-brainer to see what you have available. No more finding out you're out of cinnamon halfway through a recipe!

Just because you have plenty of cabinets, it doesn't always follow that everything will be automatically organized. Architecture Art Designs recommends installing retractable racks or drawers in cupboards. In particular, if you have deep cabinets, you will find that being able to easily slide your items out makes them more likely to be used. For a basic solution, baskets can also be included in cupboard storage. Kitchen drawers are another spot that quickly becomes chaotic. Fix the issue by creating compartments with dividers to organize all of the loose bits and bobs. For a creative way of storing utensils, Good Housekeeping suggests installing a pegboard on one of your walls. Whatever solutions you come up with you'll get far by thinking outside the box (although they might involve a box).

Unique faucets

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The kitchen faucet gets an overwhelming amount of traffic, so it's a great spot to consider renovating. Plus, there are options for all budgets, so you don't have to break the bank while adding an element of style to your kitchen. The latest trend involves unique statement taps, and it's about time designers had a bit of fun here. HGTV shows off a number of styles including shiny chic, rustic vintage, and industrial models.

You'll want to choose a durable material since you'll be using your faucet countless times every day. One important consideration that will influence the style you buy is whether you hand-wash your dishes in the sink. If so, opting for a taller faucet with a removable hose is a huge upgrade. If you're looking for the latest technology in taps, there are some splurge-worthy models that combine voice recognition and touch-free sensors with the usual flow of water (via House Beautiful).

Statement kitchen islands

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If you have a large open area in your kitchen, an island is the ultimate addition to transform your layout. Not only does it become an extra work surface and provide storage space, but it also acts as a central focal point. Plus, kitchen islands can double as dining surfaces, streamlining the at-home dining experience (via Classic Home Remodeling). The most important aspect to dictate your choice is how you will be using the space.

You might want to skip subtle and ordinary designs and choose a kitchen island that makes a statement. Think about incorporating color or a unique material into your kitchen design. Maybe the entire room won't be made of marble but the surface or sides of your island might be more realistic. Architectural Digest recommends mixing contrasting materials, using mirrored sides, or opting for a metallic finish for a look that pops. Also, an island doesn't have to be a permanent fixture — get creative by using a cart with wheels or a table.

Standout lights

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You won't be able to enjoy cooking or eating in your kitchen if the lighting is abysmal. Plus, a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that people make healthier choices when eating in brighter environments. By picking eye-catching lights you'll be able to brighten up your space in more ways than one. You'll certainly want to consider functionality when choosing lights, but aesthetics are equally high on the list of priorities. You'll also want to consider whether you want a single large showstopper piece or multiple fixtures throughout the space.

The right pendant or lampshade can completely alter the appearance of your kitchen. The styles don't stop there — consider globe shapes or vintage lanterns for added flair. Materials might include wood, metal, pottery, glass, or wicker to name a few — simply decide whether you want to match or contrast the rest of your decor. Elle Decor highlights the appeal of using vintage lamps, but modern designs are equally attractive. The variety of lighting is huge, which makes this accessory a great place to set your creativity free ... or light it up!