Kitchen wall decor ideas are important to consider: as the veritable heart of the home, the kitchen sees a lot of action day in, day out. It's rush-hour busy every morning, it's where meals are cooked and dishes washed in the evening, and, more often than not, it's where the whole family ends up repeatedly throughout the day, seven days a week.
There's no denying that kitchen ideas need to be practical, but that doesn't mean they can't be stylish, too. Your existing cabinetry and appliances will usually influence the room's decor, yet how you style your kitchen's walls can enhance the space, too.
'The kitchen wall is an imposing part of any kitchen, so it needs to be beautiful, but it must be hardy. There is no getting around it, it’s going to get a bashing,' says Rodrigo Moreno Masey, director at Moreno Masey.
'Not only will there be sauces and splashes, but also knocks and scrapes. Whatever you choose needs to be robust and cleanable,' he adds.
Kitchen wall decor ideas
What should I put on a kitchen wall, you ask? If you're keen to give your kitchen wall a whole new look, we have a whole host of super stylish, yet brilliantly practical kitchen wall decor ideas – along with inspiring pictures of kitchens – to help you transform your space for the better.
1. Bring new focus with a bold wallpaper
Give a galley kitchen a focal point by wallpapering the end wall in a lively print. Often galley kitchens can feel quite narrow and closed-in by two runs of cabinets, but creating a focal point at one end helps to draw the eye in and create a visual resting point that in turn makes the space feel wider and larger. And you can do this with kitchen wallpaper ideas.
‘Green is the true color of nature, one that we feel comfortable with in the home and it pairs beautifully with a vast array of neutral tones and wood finishes,' says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene.
'As well as offering both bold and gentle shades, it provides the ability to deliver calm and cocooned or energetic and vibrant interiors. Pairing green with an off white is a classic combination and a soft off-white with a hint of green ties fabulously with dark statement green tones.’
2. Float shelves to create a sleek display
Make use of wasted wall space in a tight spot, by adding a couple of runs of open kitchen shelving ideas. When space is limited, narrow floating shelves are a great option, that will provide useful storage and display space, while not jutting out too far or impacting on any walkways.
Opt for timber shelves to complement the color of kitchen cabinetry and paint the wall space behind in a calm, neutral shade to give a muted backdrop. The key to arranging open shelving in a modern kitchen is not to overload them with too much clutter. Edit down your selection for a more thoughtful display and leave breathing space around items so they look purposeful rather than haphazard.
3. Go halves with color
A bold color treatment is the perfect farmhouse kitchen wall decor idea for making a plain white wall look way more eye-catching. Painting the bottom portion of wall a darker shade adds impact and also creates a bold backdrop that will make other items pop, such as a table and brightly-colored chairs or perhaps a kitchen hutch or sideboard.
Simply start with a plain white wall and then add your darker color, taking it roughly two thirds up the wall. Mark where your dividing line is to go with pencil and then use painter’s tape to give you a crisp edge.
‘Horizontal lines make the walls and the room appear wider,’ says color and paint expert Annie Sloan. ‘They can create the feeling of a larger space whilst also being directional, and, crucially, easier to paint! They’re also a great way to incorporate more color into your home when you can’t decide on a wall colour or if you’d like to experiment with a statement shade without committing to a whole wall of color.’
‘Using contrasting colors will make a grand statement; use the lighter color at the top of the wall to draw the eye upwards and create the illusion of height as well as width!’
4. Paint chic statement stripes
Neutral cabinets are always a safe choice, but introducing a splash of color is one of those decorative kitchen ideas that can give a plain kitchen a visual lift and keep it from looking too bland. Instead of a traditional tiled backsplash, opt for smart painted stripes above kitchen cabinets.
Choose three complementary colors in varying tones, starting with the darkest hue on the lower portion of wall, a lighter shade above, and a brighter contrast band in the center to separate the two. For a practical finish, use wipe-clean eggshell paint or protect the lower section of wall from splashes with a sheet of clear Perspex.
‘The kitchen is often the heart of the family home, a place where you can utilize colour to create a vibrant, inspiring space that you enjoy spending time in,’ says Ruth Mottershead. ‘Kitchen decor can define whether the room is a busy family hub, or a mature space for entertaining guests.’
5. Give your kitchen a bright sunny vibe
Yellow is the color of energy, happiness and optimism so a great choice for a kitchen color idea in a bustling family space. Match wall color and backsplash for a color-drenched look that will fill a kitchen with sunshine. Extending paint color from worktop to ceiling will create the feeling of height which is useful if kitchens are on the small side.
‘Bright, pigment-packed shades are perfect for dynamic spaces like kitchens,’ says Annie Sloan. ‘Combining my satin paint, wall paint and chalk paint palettes you can easily douse your kitchen in color, from walls to cupboards to floor, for a dramatic look that’s sure to get your creative juices flowing,’
6. Clad walls with timber panelling
Complement simple wood cabinetry with Scandi-style timber cladding in place of a standard tiled backsplash. If you want an update on shiplap wall ideas, opt for wide-format boards, laid horizontally, which creates a calmer effect than lots of busy vertical lines and will make the kitchen space feel wider too.
Use sheets of ply or timbers such as pine or iroko with a lively grain that will grow more characterful over time. While wood will require more upkeep than tiles, the effect is worth it. Protect timber from water splashes with regular oiling or waxing or use a low-sheen varnish to give a longer-lasting finish. Avoid using wood behind a hob, where there’s the danger of wood being scorched.
7. Try a simple mix-and-match backsplash
Adding just a hint of pattern can elevate a plain-colored kitchen from simple to super-stylish. All that’s needed is just a single row of patterned tiles to create a narrow backsplash instead of the standard full-sized version.
Using mismatched tiles is an easy way to keep costs down. Choose geometric designs in assorted patterns mixed with plain-colored tiles. Keep to tiles of the same size and in a complementary color palette to create a more cohesive look. Painting the wall above in a toning shade will add an extra element of decoration.
8. Go for bold with a flamboyant wallpaper
Accent wall ideas can frame a dining table, and you can enjoy a riot of color in a kitchen-diner by wallpapering one wall in an exuberant print. A lively wallpaper makes a wonderful backdrop for larger, plain pieces of furniture such as a painted hutch or display dresser or kitchen table and chairs.
When using such a flamboyant print like this, why not embrace pattern full-on and bring in other splashes of pattern around the room to balance out the effect. Clash patterns with a colorful toile cloth on the table, ticking-striped seat cushions, contrast chintz lamp shades and a dresser filled with color-happy painted pottery.
9. Showcase favorite crockery
Make use of wasted wall space higher up by looking for ideas for decorating above kitchen cabinets. Installing a plate shelf to run wall-to-wall across the kitchen at picture rail level is a simple option. A slimline shelf shouldn’t protrude too far and will be wide enough to display favorite kitchenalia, from plates and dishes to jelly moulds and pottery pieces. Add a row of hooks underneath to give extra hanging space for mugs, jugs and pitchers.
Choose simple wooden shelving and brackets that can be painted to complement timber tongue-and-groove panelling or to match with a painted wall. Try painting the top section of wall above the shelf a darker color, which will create a contrast backdrop so crockery will pop against it. Blue looks particularly pretty with blue and white Delftware or plain white china.
10. Go rustic with reclaimed timber
Create a standalone feature wall in a kitchen-diner by cladding a small area with reclaimed timber panelling. Run it floor to ceiling, leaving the wood raw and unfinished to give a natural, weathered look. Use the area as a backdrop for a kitchen hutch or buffet, adding open shelving above for the perfect display space for pottery, cookware and assorted kitchenware.
Using salvaged wood is eco-friendly and cost-effective too, plus it has an added character and charm that can be lacking in newer timber. Try repurposing leftover timber or pallets from DIY projects or source reclaimed wood from local salvage yards or online free-cycling sites.
11. Add drama with a mural
Going big, bold and dramatic with wall mural ideas doesn't always mean you have to have lots of space to do it. This enlarged botanical wallcovering by Anna Glover creates a striking focal point in this small kitchen, allowing the space to feel more expansive.
Wherever possible, try to avoid using wallcoverings that come into direct contact with heat, steam or water. Non-woven wallpaper ideas are an ideal choice for kitchens, as not only are they easier to apply, but they can also be wiped clean of any marks or splashes.
12. Contrast a neutral scheme with bold color
'Vivid hues and lively tones work well in rooms that are made for entertaining or see a lot of activity, such as kitchens,' says Ruth Mottershead, Little Greene's Creative Director. 'A pop of bright, rich contrasting color is a great way add impact and an element of surprise to an otherwise muted scheme.'
The bold painted wall in this green kitchen – Sage and Onions by Little Greene – adds a welcome touch of vibrancy to an otherwise neutral scheme. You don't necessarily have to paint a large space in a strong shade either. Even just a small section of wall in a contrasting color is enough to give a space a welcome lift.
13. Split the difference with wood paneling
When planning a kitchen makeover, a relatively straightforward (and oh-so classic) way to give your space a smart new look is to add wall paneling. Try experimenting with different panel widths, and layer the look with a special backsplash in a contrasting color.
'If you're painting a kitchen, bear in mind that you'll see some wear and tear over time, so it's important to opt for a paint that can resist oil or food splashes and can be wiped clean easily, too,' advises Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore's Director.
'Eggshell or acrylic is the perfect choice for this, it's easily cleaned, and stains will wash off to ensure a long lasting and fresh look,' adds Helen.
14. Go halfway with a backsplash
A kitchen backsplash (or splashback) is often the most hassle-free wallcovering to install in a cabinetry-packed kitchen. The surface is super easy to wipe down after cooking and the range of kitchen backsplash ideas available offer a layer of visual variety if your aim is to avoid plain, painted walls.
If you prefer a more subtle approach to color, try a pale marble or marble-look backsplash to compliment white walls. Perfect if your cabinets are painted in a deeper shade, a simple marble backsplash protects the wall, as well as adding adding interest in a pared-back scheme.
15. Introduce artwork into an open plan space
Open plan kitchens can often be difficult spaces to decorate with a cohesive scheme. They need to be multifunctional and spacious, yet with clearly defined zones to give each area a different feel.
As dining spaces are still part of the kitchen in an open plan space, try adding a bold piece of artwork to the walls beside the table. Not only will this draw the eye over to the dining area, it will add color and texture to the entire scheme while keeping the artwork far from any possible humidity or damage if hung nearer the kitchen, great for kitchen art ideas.
16. Strip it all back
The exposed brick wall look is a kitchen trend that homeowners never seem to tire of. Its beauty is in its non-uniformity – anything too symmetrical or clean simply doesn't have the same organic look and feel of a patchy, messy bricked surface.
Even better is a brick wall's resilience to any knocks or splashes, provided you have sealed the surface beforehand. A few coats of acrylic sealant will do the trick, protecting the surface against humidity and and water damage.
17. Inject warmth and depth with color
The effect is enhanced thanks to its positioning opposite the window – the light making the shade even more vibrant when the sun shines in.
Subtle coordinating elements, such as the deep green painted door and window frames and the paler green blinds on both ensure a harmonious scheme.
18. Take note(s)
Perfect for making instant lists or leaving reminders for the rest of the household, chalkboard paint turns virtually any surface into an instant notepad – and not just a black one either.
Many paint companies offer a chalkboard finish on a wide selection, if not all of their color ranges. As seen here, Benjamin Moore's Gettysburg Gray HC 107 shade comes in a chalkboard finish, as does the rest of the brand's 3,500 colors.
19. Wrap the space in pattern
Kitchen wall decor ideas are the perfect opportunity to embrace pattern, and covering all four walls in wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to create an elegant, yet impactful decor transformation.
Here, the kitchen walls have been papered in a simple repetitive design that features a complementary tone to that on the green base kitchen cabinets and is further reflected through the coordinated kitchen styling and accessories.
20. Keep it simple with white tiles
If you've chosen a bold pattern or color for your kitchen flooring, a simple white tiled half wall backsplash adds texture and interest to the scheme without clashing with the flooring.
Rodrigo Moreno Masey, Director at Moreno Masey is a fan of timeless kitchen tile ideas. 'Tiles work well not only because they are tough and resist cracking under heat, but because there is so much choice out there that this single decision can transform the whole space at a relatively low cost,' he explains.
21. Go bold with a feature wall
The tendency to steer clear of color and pattern on kitchen walls is waning, thanks to the cottagecore trend and its promotion of floral wallpaper prints.
'Cottagecore references natural materials and heritage prints to capture a feeling of comfort and rural simplicity,' explains Paula Taylor, color and trend epecialist at Graham & Brown. 'These familiar countryside motifs can prevent a kitchen from feeling purely functional by breathing life and vitality into the space.'
To achieve this look in your kitchen, Paula advises to choose a rich palette of kitchen color ideas – shades like yellow ochre or terracotta work well – to inject a sunny dose of color.
'This will add warmth to a cold north-facing kitchen, or radiate a dazzling glow when bathed in natural sunlight. Pair with unbleached wood for a rustic style which evokes a homely country cottage,' she adds.
How can I decorate my kitchen walls?
Whichever form of decoration you choose, always take into consideration your kitchen cabinetry, whether painted, natural wood or modern high gloss. If the walls that you want to decorate are adjacent to kitchen cabinets, then a paint color, tile or wallpaper that complements the color of kitchen cabinets is always a good choice.
If it’s a standalone wall and of a fairly decent size, treating it as a feature wall in its own right, opens up plenty more ideas for decoration. Consider painting it in a bold contrast color, cladding floor-to-ceiling in panelling, going back to bare brickwork or wallpapering in a flamboyant print.
What can you hang in the kitchen?
Hanging shelves is the obvious choice for a kitchen, which can help lighten the load a little if cabinet space is tight, providing storage and display space for kitchen crockery and cookware. Shaker-style peg rails are another option to consider – they look fabulously decorative and will give hanging space for tools and utensils, pitchers, jugs, basketware and boards.
What can I use to decorate my kitchen walls?
There are so many ways to decorate a kitchen wall. You can paint, tile or wallpaper. You can install paneling, hang artwork or shelving or strip it all back to the bare bones with the exposed brick.
Daylight has a huge affect on wall color, so before you make your final decision its important to see the shade of paint, sample of tile, swatch of wallpaper and so on in the space to see how it reacts to the light. Remember that color changes depending on what time of day it is, whether it's in natural or artificial light.
What is the easiest way to decorate a kitchen?
Paint is certainly the easiest option, as it requires very little preparation and can make a dramatic difference in a relatively short amount of time.
Alternatively, you can apply any of the aforementioned kitchen wall decor ideas to a single feature wall instead, therefore reducing the upheaval, cost and hassle compared to decorating all four walls – a clever way to save on the average cost of a new kitchen.
How do you decorate a large blank kitchen wall?
While a large wall is the equivalent of an artist's blank canvas, how you decorate a similar untouched wall in a kitchen is determined in part by the existing furniture and fixtures.
If you're not sure what you want or where to start looking, use your kitchen cabinet colors or styles as the starting point of your design and try to find a combination that sparks joy.
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Ginevra Benedetti is Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. She has been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens. This naturally lead her into writing for websites like HomesandGardens.com.
- Lisa FazzaniContributing Editor
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