7 Must-Have Functional Kitchen Decor Items, According to Interior Designers

published Sep 24, 2023
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The kitchen is arguably the hardest-working room in the home: It multitasks as a work area, a play space, or even a living room for some. But just because it’s a workhorse doesn’t mean decor has to fall to the wayside. In fact, many interior designers recommend functional yet aesthetically pleasing items in your kitchen to brighten up your space and your smile.

“Functional decor is essential for a well-appointed, fashionable, and practical kitchen,” says Artem Kropovinsky, principal designer and founder of Arsight. “It breathes life into the room, adds character, and, most crucially, it tells a story about its occupants.” That got me thinking.

My kitchen is quite compact (read: small), which means I’m extra limited when it comes to displaying decor on my counters. I figured if anyone knew which items best consolidate function and decor, it’d be interior designers — like Kropovinsky and Alison Wilkinson, interior designer and founder of Wilk Design Workshop. The duo shared their seven favorite finds that make any kitchen feel magazine-worthy.

1. A kettle

Whether you’re a coffee-lover or tea-lover, a kettle is essential to your kitchen (and your morning routine). Wilkinson recommends Caraway’s Whistling Tea Kettles that add a pop of color to your stovetop effortlessly. She also recommends the Fellow Stagg Stovetop Gooseneck Kettle as a sophisticated choice for those who want something more modern and sleek. 

2. Wall hooks

Wall hooks are a practical way to hang aprons, dish towels, shopping bags, and so much more. A simple hook, however, doesn’t have to lack personality and style. Kropovinsky likes the Schoolhouse Thomas Hook for its minimal yet tasteful vibe that fits in with nearly every design theme and color palette. If you want something a little more whimsical, go for the chair-shaped IKEA FJANTIG Hooks, which come in a set of three. (FYI: IKEA is filled with cool pieces that double as storage.)

3. Herbs

Houseplants are practically a given when decorating your home, but have you thought about adding a small herb garden to your greenery? Kropovinsky recommends keeping a collection of fresh herbs, especially in this MINEGROW Indoor Garden with a Grow Light; they not only add vibrancy and liveliness to your kitchen, but also “go beyond being an ornamental plant,” doubling as an ingredient for your favorite recipes. 

4. Colorful countertop appliances

Incorporating colorful appliances to your kitchen gives it a chic look that really adds character to your kitchen, according to Wilkinson. She loves the Alessi Plisse Toaster that has a unique pleated design to give an empty, unused corner of your kitchen some texture and color. The Aria Retro Style Air Fryer also allows you to quickly cook your favorite foods while adding a mid-century modern touch (plus vivid color!) to your counters.

5. Vases (and other decorative containers)

According to Wilkinson, fresh flowers in your kitchen are a must for adding color and fragrance while also elevating your mood. Of course, you’ll need a vessel to display all that beauty. She likes the Iittala Aalto Vase, a work of art on its own and even more gorg when filled with hydrangeas in the summer and greenery in the winter. Bonus: It comes in two different sizes.

Kropovinsky, on the other hand, finds these Farmhouse Pottery’s Laurel Crocks both useful and beautiful, showcasing a delightful laurel wreath design to bring a sprinkle of farmhouse charm to your kitchen. They’re available in four sizes so you can keep utensils, potted herbs, and more easily accessible on your counter.

6. Dish racks

A dish rack may seem like a mundane kitchen item you’d pay no attention to when it comes to design. With the Alessi A Tempo Stainless Steel Dish Rack, Kropovinsky says, you can combine utility with modern elegance (who knew you could arrange dishes in such an artful way?). If you’re looking for something equally contemporary and functional at a more budget-friendly price, we love the Yamazaki Home Tosca Dish Rack

7. Fruit bowls

“The humble allure of a creatively designed fruit bowl brimming with vibrant, fresh fruits is irresistible,” says Kropovinsky. “It not only promotes eating more produce, but also introduces a burst of color to your kitchen counter.” 

Wilkinson recommends the sleek Alessi Dear Charlie Banana Holder — it’s perfect for those with an industrial or minimalist style. The World Market Natural Rattan 2-Tier Hanging Basket also gives different fruits their own space, but with a more bohemian, organic vibe.

What’s your favorite piece of functional kitchen decor? Let us know in the comments below!