How to decorate kitchen counters – 10 ways to a functional and chic space

Create a clutter-free and stylish look. This is how to decorate kitchen counters

How to decorate kitchen counters. Three kitchen spaces with decorated countertops, blue painted kitchen, white painted kitchen with decorated island, orange painted kitchen with patterned flooring
(Image credit: Jody Stewart, Emma Lewis, Michael Sinclair)

Knowing how to decorate kitchen counters comes down to finding the perfect balance between style and practicality. 

The kitchen should be an inviting area of the home, filled with character and charm, as well as a functional workspace where you can cook, entertain and store all of your kitchen appliances and accessories, and kitchen countertop ideas have a major role to play.

The key to decorating kitchen counters is to consider the everyday items that you use frequently that could benefit from being on display on the countertop, as well as the decorative pieces that make kitchen ideas feel unique and personal to you.

How to decorate kitchen counters

Kitchen styling involves curation of the objects you want on display as well as selecting the best placement. Be inspired by advice on how to decorate kitchen counters as well as tips from the experts. 

1. Keep the look clean and decluttered  

Bright and spacious kitchen with large marble and light stained wood island, light wooden floor, counter chairs with black metal frame and upholstered seat and back cushions, two pendant lights hanging over kitchen island, beige-gray kitchen units, countertops decorated with plants and framed picture, sink on island

(Image credit: Elizabeth Krueger Design)

'Clean and decluttered is the name of the game when it comes to styling kitchen countertops. While other spaces in the home benefit from a heavier touch, countertops do not,' says Elizabeth Krueger, founder of Elizabeth Krueger Design (opens in new tab)

Of all the rooms in the home where you need the space to be highly functional and practical, the kitchen is number one.

Leaving enough space on your countertops and kitchen islands to prepare food and have people sit and eat is a top priority, so never over-fill the surfaces.

2. Accessorize with plants and flowers

White fitted kitchen with mirror behind work top and open wooden shelves, and kitchen island with marble top, decorated with books, flowers, and wooden tray on island with cooking ingredients

(Image credit: Emma Lewis)

Decorating with plants and flowers in the home is always going to create a calming and tranquil atmosphere, including in a kitchen which can often be a busy and hectic hub.  

Kara Childress of Kara Childress Inc. Interior Design (opens in new tab) says, 'I love placing small cachepots of planted herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme next to a window, not only for cooking, but for the calming, heady scents they weave throughout a kitchen.'

Whether you have beautiful blooms in a vase on a kitchen island, or pots of herbs and plants beside a window or near preparation areas, decorating kitchen counters this way can create an inviting space filled with color and natural beauty.

3. Extend shelving

View across the marble topped kitchen island with shelves in the background with dishes and baskets.

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

Extending a shelving design to include a kitchen countertop creates more space for shelf styling opportunities and makes for a chic, tiered effect. 

In this kitchen, the countertop is treated like an additional shelf, decorated with an eclectic mix of items that mirror the styling above. 

This shelf and countertop decoration creates an eye-catching focal point in the kitchen, as well as a central, zoned area where decorative items and practical accessories are stored together.

4. Group items in small zones 

Kitchen with cream walls, bright blue units, black Aga with shelf overhead decorated with foliage and flowers.

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

When working out where to place items to decorate kitchen counters, plan to collect objects together in zones. It will create a neat and tidy styled space. 

Elizabeth Krueger advises, 'Start with a blank slate and look to create small groupings to provide depth and vertical height.'

Corners of kitchen countertops allow items to be neatly tucked away from the main countertop surface area and, in this kitchen, the alcoves below the kitchen cabinets have been utilized to create two separate zones, one for books and the other for more practical items such as chopping boards and grinders.

5. Use decorative trays

Kitchen with white painted walls, black kitchen cabinets and countertops, six white and metallic large ceiling lights above island, black metal counter chairs with upholstered seat and back cushions, tray styled with flowers and plants on island

(Image credit: Elizabeth Krueger Design)

Decorative trays can create an area for you to curate and display favored objects and accessories and is a way to decorate kitchen counters that is both stylish and practical. 

Great for placing vases of flowers, coasters and other small kitchen accessories, a tray gathers items all in one place, leaving more room for cooking and food prep. A tray can also be easily picked up and moved around depending on when you use different areas of the kitchen.

6. Prioritize the essentials

Kitchen area with a light blue aga, white marbled worktops and fitted cabinets, dark wood flooring

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

There are some items that will always belong on kitchen counters, so working out where these go first will then help you assess what space is left for other pieces.

Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens, states, 'Start by placing essential appliances, such as kettles and toasters, on your countertops, then move onto secondary, decorative pieces such as vases, candles and books.'

7. Layer items to create depth

Breakfast bar in kitchen with coloured floor tiles, black units and terracotta walls.

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair)

Layering objects on your kitchen counters can help make the space feel welcoming and cozy.

'Layering art or cutting boards by leaning them against the backsplash – with a few smaller items in front – provides depth, or using a wooden pedestal or tray topped with three items of different heights will draw the eye vertically,' says Elizabeth Krueger. 

In this kitchen, the layered, warming wooden chopping boards effortlessly add character to the space, as well as perfectly complementing the earthy terracotta paint shade on the walls. Other items such as the flowers and woven basket also add texture and depth to the sleek, modern kitchen space.

8. Surround yourself with meaningful designs

A white kitchen range cooker with silver hob cover and white fitted cupboards under a window.

(Image credit: Alicia Taylor)

Opt for the meaningful when decorating kitchen counters. 'Focus on creating precious moments using wares that you love to see, as well as ones that help you effortlessly entertain,' says Kara Childress. It will help make the space truly reflect your identity and style. 

The kitchen can often be forgotten about when adding personal decorative touches, so get creative with your storage solutions and use pretty vases, bowels and trays to add personality, visual interest and practicality to your countertops.

9. Bring in colorful accents 

Kitchen with dark fitted cupboards, marbled work top, central kitchen island with bar stools below a skylight.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Having colorful objects dotted around the kitchen can create beautiful accents and eye-catching elements of contrast in the space. 

'Accent color ideas, and decorating your kitchen counters with accessories that contrast to the main colors and elements of the room, can effortlessly lift the design scheme,' says editorial director of Homes & Gardens Sarah Spiteri.

In this kitchen, simple touches such as the fruit bowl and wooden chopping boards elegantly contrast with the blue paint, adding an enhanced element of contrast and color to the space.

10. Embrace a theme  

Neutral kitchen with pale pink painted walls, marble countertops, textured island, decorated with vases, plants, candles, glassware, large glass pendant with individual opal glass globes

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Thinking of the bigger picture and the style of your kitchen when working out how to decorate kitchen counters will create a cohesive scheme. 

Embracing a theme when decorating can make it easier when choosing the types of objects you want on your kitchen counters. Choosing objects of the same color, style or texture can help to make space feel well thought-out and organized. 

In this stunning kitchen space that embodies a sophisticated yet relaxed design rich with texture and material, the decorative ornaments on the counter and shelf are all crafted in the same ceramic style. These pieces perfectly complement the wider kitchen design and continue the use of a calming color palette.

How do you decorate an empty kitchen counter?

When decorating an empty kitchen counter, always consider your essential items, decorative pieces that spark joy, and objects that can enrich and complement your kitchen design scheme. 

Keeping your kitchen counters clutter-free and decorated with a collection of select pieces will ensure that your space remains functional yet characterful.

Overall, choose multifunctional designs that have a practical use yet also add a stylish design element to the space.

Zara joined Homes & Gardens in February 2022 as a Content Editor. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. Her role at Homes & Gardens unites her love, experience and passion for the world of design and desire to create inspiring written content. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.