10 Kitchen Styling & Design Mistakes That Give Interior Designers “The Ick”

1. Lackluster lighting

Lighting offers a crucial opportunity to add style, personality, and a little glam to kitchens without cluttering prime counter space. While pendants or a statement chandelier above the island are great, why stop there? Consider sconces above windows or on either side of the stove for added style points.

2. Lack of texture

Between the appliances, countertops, and cabinetry, kitchens are pretty much begging for some texture. Add warmth and coziness with runners, roman shades, rattan lighting, upholstered seating, or even a rustic wooden island. A beautiful natural stone, like richly-veined marble, adds even more visual interest and materiality.

3. Zero contrast

We’ve all seen the sterile kitchens that feel too matchy-matchy, with tonal cabinetry, paint, countertops, and backsplashes. Just as in living rooms and bedrooms, it’s equally important to add a little eye-catching contrast in the kitchen. In the above space, for example, the black and white diamond checkerboard flooring adds some much-needed contrast to an otherwise neutral kitchen.

4. Passing on color

Don’t get us wrong — we love a clean, neutral kitchen — but it’s still important to incorporate some warmth and personality. Some kitchens really sing with color, whether via painted cabinetry, patterned tile, or bold countertops. And we love how inexpensive and DIY-friendly this upgrade is — you can do it in a single weekend with just a few hundred dollars or less!

5. Boring backsplash

Backsplashes offer such a fun, unique opportunity to play with pattern, color, and texture — even if you just go with a classic subway tile. Consider playing with a little pattern or adding texture with perfectly imperfect, handmade zellige tile. Alternatively, take your marble countertops up to the walls for a modern, seamless look.

6. Matchy-matchy metals

We advise mixing finishes throughout the home, from curtain rods and bathroom hardware to kitchen lighting and cabinetry pulls. Instead of going all brass or all matte black, mix and match to make your space feel more dynamic and elevated. In the above space, the cool, edgy black stools from Interior Define stand out against the warm brass faucet, adding an element of surprise that keeps things interesting.

7. Accepting a dated space

We understand that a kitchen renovation is an expensive, time-consuming endeavor that just may not be possible — especially if you’re renting. But, you should never overlook the power of small updates in your cookspace! Inexpensive upgrades like new hardware, a coat of cabinetry paint, a painted tile backsplash, or even open shelving can truly transform a space without breaking the bank.

8. Decor overkill

We already waxed poetic about the power of kitchen decor. But there is such thing as too much decor, especially in such a practical, functional space. Decorating a kitchen successfully requires knowing when to call it — decorative knick-knacks should never take priority over crucial countertop space. Go with a simple tray or wooden cutting board topped with fresh fruit and flowers, and always leave more than enough room to chop veggies.

9. Lack of designated storage

Let’s be real: you’re going to inevitably stash the mail on the kitchen counter, or drop your keys and sunglasses on the island when you walk in the door. But it’s important to have a designated drop zone for clutter so it doesn’t start to overtake your countertops. Consider a marble tray, a key rack near the door, or making space in a drawer for day-to-day clutter — you’ll love the visual calm!

10. Cheesy artwork

For whatever reason, kitschy word art tens to run rampant in kitchens. While we always encourage decorating according to what makes you smile (we love dopamine decorating, after all), we do advise against any food or wine-related artwork or word art in the kitchen. Instead, consider something less on the nose, like a vintage portrait, a modern abstract, or even a family photo. Art should always feel personal and unique to you — even in the kitchen.

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