10 Smart Kitchen Design Ideas Martha Stewart Swears by for Every Style and Budget

published Dec 31, 2023
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Martha Stewart headshot on colored background
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Martha Stewart is the queen of kitchen creativity. Whether she’s on our TVs guiding us through the steps to create a Michelin-star-worthy meal, or how to get the garlicky smell off of your fingers, there isn’t a time or place where the multi-hyphenate doesn’t have the answers we’re looking for. Her sage advice feels like she’s studied the blueprint of our homes without ever walking into them — and this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to our kitchen design ideas

For Martha, it doesn’t matter if your space is big or small, or if you rent or own — the business woman knows how to use the square footage you have. She knows how to build a kitchen that will look larger (even if it’s small), utilize items you already have in the garden, and even involve your entire family in the fun. Martha’s kitchen design ideas are a one-stop shop that work for anyone, anywhere, and anytime — from kitchen backsplash ideas that are renter-friendly to strategic ways to display holiday decorations. Here are 10 of the best kitchen design ideas that Martha Stewart swears by. 

1. Start with the walls. 

If you’re a renter (or have commitment issues when it comes to your interiors), wallpaper can be a huge decision. Put your mind (and budget) at ease, and instead opt for a budget-friendly hack like removable wallpaper. It’s the perfect solution for “commitment-phobes and renters,” says Martha, and works anywhere from kitchen backsplashes to accent walls. 

2. Elevate everyday essentials. 

Customizing wooden spoons with paints is “an easy way to brighten up your kitchen,” says Martha. Follow her lead by elevating basic spatulas and spoons and switching them out for bamboo or wooden versions. Tailor them to your liking with the help of paint; it’s the perfect way to tie in a color scheme or do a fun craft project with your loved ones. 

3. Display your dishes. 

Have your dishes do double-duty by taking them from your cupboards or cabinets to your walls. It’s an affordable way to mimic a gallery wall and is easy to assemble. Plus, you can try something cohesive and have all the plates be the same design, or mix and match to make a bold statement. 

Either way, once you decide, invest in plate hangers with springs and vinyl to avoid scratching plates and walls. Martha recommends finding hangers with brass wires that can easily be flexed to secure the plates in place (but it’s not necessary). What is necessary? Before hammering the hangers to your wall, make sure you love the plate arrangement; this will avoid unwanted holes (looking at you, renters). 

4. Create café curtains.

“If your hunt for a window treatment to fit a tricky space has you ready to throw in the towel, try sewing several together instead,” says Martha. Next, cut an assortment of same-size dishcloths up the middle (she used semi-sheer linen ones) and hem the raw edges; then, mix and match the panels, alternating prints and colors. Once you’ve stumbled on a combination or design that works for you, sew them with this portable stitcher (or stitch them by hand), and finish by attaching them to a rod. This easy hack will instantly transform your kitchen windows! (If you just want to buy premade cafe curtains, we won’t tell Martha.)

5. Bring the outdoors, indoors. 

Houseplants in the kitchen aren’t just beautiful — they’re actually beneficial for your health, too. Talk about a win-win! And even more so when you’re savvy about how you house them. Cut off the spiky feet of a tomato cage from your garden and bring it indoors; then, spray-paint the stand gold before inserting your favorite plant. Add depth to your kitchen by opting for cages of different heights; it’ll add visual interest and look oh-so-expensive. 

6. Install pegboards in drawers. 

For this kitchen design idea, we had to do a little digging. Fortunately, it was worth it. Organize dishware and cookware by inserting peg boards horizontally into a large, deep drawer. The removable pegs fit into the pegboard, creating vertical anchors to keep things from sliding inside the drawer. The system is customizable for endless variations of drawer contents. But our favorite part? No matter how you design it, the story is the same: It prevents glass, ceramic, or other items (that can break) from breaking. 

7. Properly place pots and pans.

Hanging your pots and pans over your kitchen island isn’t anything new or exciting; we’ve seen it a time or two before. However, Martha puts her own unique spin on this idea by having her hanging kitchenware provide a pop of color. Instead of opting for stainless steel, she chose rose gold/copper pots and pans, an unexpected-yet-pleasantly beloved accent color. It livens up her space and elevates the muted gray walls behind her. (Plus, you’ll notice she created cohesiveness by investing in a rose gold tea kettle.) 

8. Decide on dip-dyed candles. 

Lighten and brighten kitchens up literally and figuratively with candles. Create your own dip-dyed candles with beeswax and crayons by following these Martha-approved instructions. It’s a great way to spend the day with your loved ones and let your creativity shine. Or, if you’re short on time, go for pre-made multi-colored versions like these. Either way, what we particularly love about this kitchen design idea is the versatility, size-wise. Thin, tapered ones will work magnificently on dining room tabletops come the holidays, whereas thicker versions will add a point of interest to countertops

9. Set a shallow shelf above stovetops. 

You’ll notice that right above her stove, Martha had a long, shallow shelf installed. Talk about ingenious! It offers enough space to properly store cooking oils, pepper, salt, and other ingredients she’ll need on the spot, and it’s high enough up that it won’t be in the way. You can order a pre-mounted shelf or go to your local store and have a piece of wood cut to your liking and later painted to match the room. 

10. Add open storage. 

Over the years, Martha’s learned a thing or two about kitchen storage. And when it comes to shelving, there are endless (Martha-approved) possibilities. With some strategic thinking about your layout and specific kitchen needs, you can create a smart organizational system that works for you. One great universal solution? Add open storage and shelving to your kitchen with this five-tier system. It’s ideal for housing essentials like microwaves, storage bins, and appliances — and most importantly, there are wheels! Keep it in one place or move it around as often as you want.