In my house, we sleep in the bedrooms, relax in the family room, and we live in the kitchen. It is the meeting place after a long day and the hub of activity during a weekend at home. When hosting guests, I find myself entertaining more and more from my modestly sized kitchen. Even though we don’t intend to host by the oven, as house layouts trend increasingly toward open concepts, the kitchen is no longer a hidden room for immediate family. Instead, it has become a shared space for all who visit. I have found bringing decor and design into the kitchen a challenging but fun experience. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when decorating your kitchen.

Design up, not out. Counter space is a hot commodity in my house. Somehow when I cook, it seems to take up the entire room. I have found that decorating upward in tiers instead of outwards has allowed me to incorporate more of the decor I love into my kitchen without hindering my meal prep. I have been able to incorporate cute vignettes made up of small decorative items as well as my favorite kitchen supplies. This is a great place to incorporate cake stands and some of my favorite tabletop things, too. Not only is it lovely to look at, but I am no longer searching for some of my most used items.

Lean into kitchen art. Wall space in the kitchen can be limited due to appliances and cabinets, but that shouldn’t discourage you from incorporating art into the room. Whether it’s above the oven, over the sink or on the countertop itself, there is always a place for art. I love this soothing tea painting by Kansas City artist Jill Opelka – the neutral tones make it easy to incorporate into any design I have at the moment. Extra tip: Jill offers monogramed versions of the piece, and they make an excellent housewarming gift.

Put a tray on display. Decorative dishes, fashionable tea towels, colorful produce – let us see it! If you have available counter space, don’t hide potential decor elements behind a cabinet door. Gather your best kitchen items and display them expertly on a fun tray for an instant and classic vignette moment. This is a great way to add a pop of color.

Customize your furniture. A great way to soften your space (and tie in your other decor) is with custom upholstery at the island our dining nook. Is there a favorite fabric from your living room sofa, or perhaps a chair from your entryway that you love? Bring that color or pattern in by customizing seating to coordinate with the rest of your home.

Incorporate fun lighting. Overhead lighting is a great way to bring your personal style into a space. Play up your kitchen lighting and make it standout with a fixture. Not only does a hanging light feature pop over an island countertop or dining nook, there are unlimited options to make the perfect statement for your kitchen.

Regardless of how you define your personal style, I hope these fun ideas have inspired you as you bring fresh new decor into your kitchen. Above all, the most important element of the kitchen is the warmth and energy of those who use it (and fresh baked cookies don’t hurt either).

Adapted from nellhills.com. Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at Katie@nellhills.com.

Bring your favorite patterns into the kitchen with customized stools and seating nooks. (Photo: Handout/TNS).

By Katie Laughridge, Tribune News Service