How to Personalize Your Kitchen

Reports estimate that we spend up to 80 percent of our time in our kitchens. We need to feel good in that room, grounded, at home. One's kitchen should then naturally express our individuality — a place where we feel happy and good in our skin whether we're hosting a friend for a coffee or preparing a holiday meal for the family. And showcasing one's personality can be done in so many ways, from the colour you choose for your backsplash to the pulls that perfectly appoint your cupboards.

Cabinetry

First, consider that cabinetry. Achieve a custom look by mixing colours and finishes. Try a combo of black and grey or mushroom for a classically elegant effect. A mix of moss green and cream suits Shaker-style millwork, just apply the darkest colour to bottom cabinets to ground the look. Palette aside, unique finishes are another way to bring character and individuality to your kitchen. Distressing or hand-brushed glazes, for example, convey period charm.

A single glance at your wall of cabinetry is all it takes to realize the instant impact that fresh new hardware can make in a kitchen. Weathered nickel or copper, with its aged patina, lends a traditional vibe to a bank of cabinet. Minimal stainless-steel bar pulls, on the other hand, add sparkle and sleek shine to a contemporary kitchen. And if your taste is more eclectic, wrought iron pulls can deliver a sense of the artisanal.

Although a clean white kitchen possesses a personality all its own, injecting colour can make this room truly distinctive. Bold shades complement dark cabinets, and stainless or white appliances. A luscious warm palette rooted in berry reds, plum or gold, stimulates the tastebuds, and if the focus is on your cabinetry's wood grain or countertops, steer towards neutral shades. Paint is the quick and easy way to energize the kitchen with colour, but also consider window coverings and upholstery (on stools, chairs or banquettes) as prime opportunities for colourful commentary.

Backsplashes

Backsplashes

Backsplashes, whether laid with vividly coloured inset tiles, as borders or expanded into dramatic accent walls, make strong personal statements. Ceramic tiles laid in a subway pattern are popular for their industrial-grade appeal and cost effectiveness, but designers have been reviving glass mosaic tiles for a rich, Continental look, too. Instead of one shade, create a Missoni-like mix of stripes for an arty, high-style effect.

If your heart belongs to Paris, take a page from French bistros when decorating your kitchen: A coat of chalkboard paint quickly turns cupboard and door panels into places to display menus, shopping lists or even inspiring quotations. Magnetic wall primer topped with chalkboard paints adds an extra dimension to kitchen organization, allowing you to affix magnets to places other than the fridge. Not only can your metal spice canisters find a new home, but your family gallery of photos and memorabilia can take centre stage.

Light Fixtures

Let light fixtures speak to your personal tastes too. Express a love of mid-century modern design or Marie Antoinette-style opulence. Sleek, easy-to-clean options make sense near cooktops, but a chandelier can address a passion for everyday glamour and adds unexpected dazzle atop an island or breakfast nook.

Area Rugs

Use area rugs to define an eat-in area and to provide some warmth underfoot on cool mornings. Honey-hued sisals are always lovely, but for more dynamism, employ lively graphics, strong stripes or a pretty stylized botanical.

Vintage Accessories and Collectibles

Vintage Accessories and Collectibles

Vintage accessories and collectibles such as breadboxes, tins, scales, ceramics, shakers or teapots are charming touches. Give a personal collection pride of place on open shelving, but keep things well curated for impact. If you shy away from knickknacks, a colourful appliance like a marigold stand mixer lends character to a kitchen.

Finally, inject a bit of life with easy-care plants. Tropicals thrive in sunny windows, while a basket of herbs is a practical touch for the home chef. Low-light options include ivy (for a cheery spin, plant in a thrift-shop enamel pot), or for a luxe arrangement, place orchids in an Asian-style glazed jar.

So whether you're working with a tight galley or a wide-open L-shaped space, think of your kitchen as a blank canvas, or menu, to display your individual decorating style. It should speak to your heart and soul and be a place that reflects your passions.

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