How to Create a Calm Simple Kitchen

If your kitchen is more cluttered and chaotic then calm, maybe you feel as though there is no way around it. That somehow, it’s the nature of the beast. Nope. Granted, our kitchens must work extra hard for us these days since we tend to live in them. If your kitchen’s footprint is small, how in the world can it store all the stuff yet look tidy and feel airy? If you rent or live in a tiny home, maybe this sounds like crazy talk. I hear you. But How to Create a Calm Simple Kitchen aims to start the conversation and inspire your creativity.

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Our kitchen is a meditative, serene, calm space that doesn’t just happen…it takes intention.

I have learned over the decades (thanks to more than a dozen moves and different kitchens) it is truly possible to create a tranquil and gentle yet hard working kitchen space to nurture your lifestyle.

6 Ideas for How to Create a Calm Simple Kitchen

No. 1: Clear Those Counters

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Ideas to create a calm simple kitchen

I can’t tell you what items to hide and to display because we have different needs. For example, if you’re someone with a lot of prescription meds which need to be visible on the counter to remember to take them, I don’t endorse storing them behind closed cupboard doors.

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This is as cluttery as the counters get on a given day.

But I might suggest corralling them on a tray or creatively making them accessible from a charming vintage wood box or earthenware bowl (depends on your style!).

Such simple tweaks may induce more calm to your days than you might imagine!

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Do newspapers, magazines, mail, or food items take over the surfaces in your kitchen?

Clearing the counters is not a “one and done” tip. Without fail, more and more assorted items collect on counters over time. It takes intention and daily maintenance to keep calm factor. Simplicity takes thought and discipline and is rarely simple.

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In case you need ideas to create a calm simple kitchen

I like to clear the decks of everything to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of the kitchen, counters, appliances, utensil holders, decor, etc.

Then, it becomes a task of exhibiting restraint as each item is added back after answering “how important is it that I SEE this item daily?”

Worry about where you will store clutter later, but to start, put it aside so you can see calm tranquility emerge and begin to work its soothing effect on your psyche and mood.

Before shot of Hello Lovely Arizona Fixer Upper Kitchen
Our Arizona kitchen before we bought it and gave it a complete makeover.

WHY DOES THIS IDEA WORK?

Because for one thing, those objects on the counter have an energy all their own which may be draining yours. For another, counter tops free of clutter are easier to clean and will actually beckon you to wipe them down more often. Just gazing upon a cluttery countertop can be exhausting to a lot of folks.

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No. 2: Decorate With Nature

If your kitchen is devoid of natural materials such as the warmth of wood, plants, stone, metals, rattan, etc., it may not evoke the calm feeling you are after. Want a super easy place to start? Bowl of green apples or lemons on a table or counter. Boom.

I’m all for faux plants if your sunlight is inadequate, but remember just a simple branch in a clear glass container is natural and lovely. The branch need not even have buds or growth on it! Even bare branches can offer an interesting silhouette, contrast, rusticity, texture or warmth. Try it!

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But what if your kitchen has vinyl cabinets and runs of inexpensive laminate countertops? Is it still possible to bring a natural look and more calm? YES, m’am!

Create a Calm Simple Kitchen With Nature

First, I think keeping laminate counters free of clutter (see idea no. 1 above) is an important consideration.

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Second, there are wonderful accessories made of stone, marble, woven textures and wood that will bring natural warmth and integrity from nature.

For years, I have used the simplest seagrass placemats to bring in a serene, simple, pared down look. As a bonus they also create tranquility.

Shaker style white cabinets in simple serene kitchen with white oak floors and Viatera Minuet quartz countertops - Hello Lovely Studio.
In case you need ideas to create a calm simple kitchen

Third, unless your vinyl cabinets are new and attractive or designed to have a modern aesthetic, you have the option of painting them.

Vinyl cabinets in our before kitchen still remain in the laundry room.

In my own home, I inherited a few 20 year old vinyl cabinets in my wee laundry room that felt both unnatural and dated. I didn’t hesitate to paint those babies immediately!

To create a more adhesive and matte look, I mixed a few tablespoons of plaster of Paris into ordinary flat latex paint, and you would never know they are not wood.

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Hello Lovely ideas to create a calm simple kitchen

Lastly, take the time to step back and really analyze the decor and materials which live in your kitchen. Which are made of natural materials and which are synthetics? What elements feel fakey and lack integrity?

Before image of Hello Lovely Arizona Fixer Upper Kitchen
A corner of our Arizona kitchen in its before state.

Could you swap out the glass table for a wood one? Is there a sunny location plants could grow? Can any plastic containers be upgraded to wood, glass, stone, or a natural fiber? If the flooring is vinyl or unnatural, is it possible to accent with a woven cotton rug or simple jute runner?

Serene Nordic French style kitchen renovation with pastels and grey cabinets by Hello Lovely studio

WHY THIS IDEA WORKS

We aren’t just living on the earth; we ARE the earth, and its offerings affect us at deep, subconscious levels. Introducing natural materials to your space is similar to adding healthier whole foods from nature to your diet. Natural things breathe, age better, and unite us with the wholesomeness of the planet.

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1. Towel|2. Chair|3. Pendant|4. Tote|5. Table|6. Mirror|7. Candleholder| 8. Terrarium|9. Stool|10. Broom|11. Chandelier

No. 3: Add Airiness

An airy feeling in the kitchen is achievable through a number of means. Color palette surely is one way to lighten up, and in most cases, pale and tranquil cooler tones do it effectively. Dig in my archives for paint color ideas.

Dark stained woods often impart strong, rugged, formal, heavier mood factor. Whites, light woods, and softer shades lend themselves to more of an airy feel.

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Reflections and advice for how to create a calm simple kitchen

If you’re taking a long hard look at your kitchen and want to remove visual weight without renovation, you could start with paint color, lighting, and windows.

Address Paint Color, Lighting & Windows

First, decide which colors feel tranquil to you and try samples on the walls to see how they marry with other design elements. Tranquil light greys are still having their moment right now, and I love how they work with warm natural wood.

Shaker style white cabinets in simple serene kitchen with white oak floors and Viatera Minuet quartz countertops - Hello Lovely Studio.

Second, as for lighting, I don’t suggest simply shopping online for airy, wispy light fixtures. Rather, look for ways to bring more pleasing light into the space.

Can window treatments be removed for more natural light to stream in? Is there a fluorescent cloud fixture casting unflattering artificial light into the space?

Would a table lamp on the counter or floor lamp in a corner bring a soft source of calm glowing light? While lamps in the kitchen don’t make sense for all kitchens, they are often overlooked in casual, country, more traditional spaces which…let’s face it…are not simply places to prepare food. Many of us LIVE LARGE in our kitchens now.

Before image of Hello Lovely Arizona Fixer Upper Kitchen
A peek at the before of our Arizona kitchen…in case you need hope.

Thirdly, decide whether the window coverings on the windows in your kitchen are helping or hurting. Removing them may eliminate some weight. If you have privacy needs or need the softness of fabric at your windows, make sure there isn’t an alternative to lighten things up.

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WHY THIS IDEA WORKS

Life can be lifey and with its own heavy burdens. Maybe a more airy space to prepare meals, happily bake, sit around the table, and live is what your spirit needs to lift.

Tone on tone palette at cozy window seat with pillows and candlelight - Hello Lovely Studio. #windowseat #allwhitedecor #scandinavianstyle #interiordesign

No. 4: Carve Out a Cozy Moment

When we mapped out a design plan for our kitchen renovation, an important consideration was whether the existing window seat would remain.

It wasn’t a small thing to leave it alone since it means we have less cupboard storage and the design had to work around it. However, leaving that cozy moment means daily birdwatching can happen. It not only functions for seating and provides architectural interest, it also encourages resting and a restful mood.

Serene Nordic French style kitchen renovation with pastels and grey cabinets by Hello Lovely studio

Is there a cozy moment in your kitchen or potential for one?

I already mentioned lamps which add cozy factor, but here are a few more ideas.

First, a visually pleasing vignette can often become a moment for cozy. Even a few cookbooks in a stack with a simple glass vase with branch or eucalyptus sprigs can be a start.

Shaker style white cabinets in simple serene kitchen with white oak floors and Viatera Minuet quartz countertops - Hello Lovely Studio.

Second, vintage objects are often a way to bring warmth and character as well as cozy charm. Shop your house for treasures you may have forgotten about.

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Cake Stand
Clear Glass Cake Pedestal and Dome: FIND HERE

Thirdly, a cozy teapot and beautiful kitchen towels can work wonders.

Ideas for Injecting Cozy Factor

Wooden benches may look even cozier with a soft  throw draped over them. Even a simple wooden stool that feels homey and wholesome may work.

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Lastly, don’t forget how original art work can work magic in every room of the house including the kitchen.

Have you seen professional stylists display vintage canvas portraits, casually leaning them on a kitchen shelf? Try it.

I personally love living with original abstract paintings by me and others, and I have at least three in my own not-huge kitchen where the space still feels airy.

WHY THIS IDEA WORKS

Cozy corners and moments invite our eye and our spirit to rest, and when we rest, our bodies can heal, restore and repair. With our bodies at ease, we can respond from a place of greater capacity to meet the daily challenges of our professional and personal lives.

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Here’s what’s on the breakfast menu daily in my calm kitchen…get the recipe HERE.

No. 5: Honor Your Favorite Color

I think so often, when we inherit a kitchen where someone else made all the kitchen design choices, we get stuck thinking we must live with the existing color palette. In fact, a more customized and unique result may be possible when you follow your heart and your favorite color.

before photo of Arizona kitchen with red backsplash
BEFORE in our Arizona kitchen

For example, if your thing is soft, ethereal, cool tones yet your kitchen is dominated with saturated or warm colors, you may not realize the right paint color alone could work wonders.

Here’s what you could do to start:

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Nero Cement Urn Planter
Cement Urn: FIND HERE

Snap a close-up photo of your cabinet door when there is good light in the kitchen so you get an accurate rendering of the color. Next, do the same thing with more large surfaces i.e. wall color, counters and appliances. When you gather those images and can view them together, you’ll be equipped to view paint color swatches in a fresh way. Seeing the expanses together may even lead you to a paint color or accent color you had not considered. (BTW. You know I’m not afraid to paint cabinets!)

Shaker style white cabinets in simple serene kitchen with white oak floors and Viatera Minuet quartz countertops - Hello Lovely Studio.

WHY THIS IDEA WORKS

There is a whole discipline of psychology devoted to color and its affect on human emotion, productivity, aggression, appetite, etc. Color matters so if we’re going to spend many hours in a space at home, we should think critically and intelligently about how to incorporate the hues that bring us contentment.

Inspirational quote from designer Tara Shaw on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #inspirationalquote

No. 6: You’re Allowed to Paint Your Trim

Sorry, but I’m going be bold here and give you permission to paint your trim. Painting the trim throughout your whole home is indeed a big decision, yet I’m here to tell you it’s okay to begin with just one room.

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I know how scary this decision may be if you are painting stained wood trim since there’s no turning back. What I do know is that if dated wood trim or white trim is bringing your mood down, it’s worth tweaking.

My simple white Shaker kitchen with white oak hardwood floor and vintage work cart - Hello Lovely Studio.

Color affects us in mysterious ways. Brown, for instance, is highly oppressive to my own senses. Our white oak flooring was left natural and glows with golden warmth. The same shade of dark brown which strikes you as appetizing, luxurious, or sexy might totally turn me off.

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Color Matters Big Time

For me, browns rarely emote a feeling of safety or coziness, and this lesson comes years after living in a home with quality, costly oak trim. (I thought I might learn to appreciate it with time in a prior spec home I didn’t design).

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In my experience, more outdoorsy types favor wood trim and expanses of woodsy warmth. Folks who are less visual may hardly even notice a trim’s tone. Practical, logical, left brain types who size up a room’s appeal based upon factors beyond mood, may think this whole discussion is drivel.

But then there are aesthetes and design freaks…ha!

My simple white Shaker kitchen with white oak hardwood floor and vintage work cart - Hello Lovely Studio.

Since I’m mostly an indoorswoman, it makes sense that brown wood outlined everything feels less like home. You must discern how you respond when trim subtly recedes or comes forward.

Also: painting over stained wood is generally not wise if your only motivation is to be on trend.

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Painted trim and the addition of trim around windows and doors itself falls in and out of favor. (The Giannettis just skip trim altogether for a modernized clean Cali look!). Your decision should be consistent with personal style, taste, and what makes you feel most at home.

Who knows? Since this post is about a calm kitchen (and not a strictly white kitchen), maybe you’ll decide to paint your trim a tranquil light grey.

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POT // CANDLEHOLDERS // TEAPOT // DISHTOWELS // BRUSHES // STOOL

Perhaps a celery green trim will bring gentleness, aliveness and even nostalgia to your vintage style kitchen which needs calm.

Obviously, you’ll want to to test several paint colors on a test piece of wood. View it against windows and baseboards before you take the plunge, bravehearts.

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WHY THIS IDEA WORKS

Painting trim around windows, doors, and floors is something that stirs up a lot of anxiety for many folks. Since it is still uncommon to deviate from white or wood trim, we may forget the power of color. A calm trim color can enhance the wall color as well as soothe the mood. It can play up (or minimize) design elements which the trim surrounds.

A rustic oak step stool in my kitchen comes in handy and looks good too. #hellolovelystudio #rusticwoodstool #oakstool

Additionally, I can only imagine the “discussions” with significant others should you decide your kitchen requires enhancement with celery green trim after reading this post…hahahahaha.

See My Kitchen in This Video

And crank up the volume – it’s still an upbeat song!

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Decorating is surely not for sissies! It frequently demands courage and an adventurous spirit!

Thanks for taking this adventure into calm with me.

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Basket
Courtney Lamp Base
Antique Chinese Wood Rustic Round Stool
French Country Bed
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
Rustic Reclaimed Elm Cabinet
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Linen Slipcovered Chair Set
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Silver Rectangle Accent Table
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Galvanized Console Table
Gabriel Chevron Quilt Set
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Marble Subway Backsplash in My Kitchen
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Handmade Sunburst Mirror
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French Panel Mirror
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
Antique Chinese Weathered Bench
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Linen & Burlap Tufted Ottoman
Gertrude Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Colleen Slope Arm Linen Chair Set
White Ruffle Quilt Set
French Louis Style Arm Chair
Avignon Coat Rack With Hooks
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
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Pamela Arm Chair
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Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
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French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
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Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
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French Market Basket
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Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
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Modern Farmhouse Lamp
White Slipcovered Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
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Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
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22 Comments

  1. Carol S.
    April 25, 2020 / 7:41 am

    I love your kitchen and copied heavily when building my own. Lighten up, yes! Clean those counters, and need to buy more fresh lemons to display and use. Can you tell me more about you cabinet pulls, how long are they? Happy Saturday!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 25, 2020 / 11:56 am

      Happy weekend, Carol! I need lemons too – miss being able to just shop when I want! Cabinet pulls are brushed steel, and do note the measurement is 3 3/4″ between screws rather than the length of the actual pull which is a little more than 5″ (a little confusing!) so here is the product: https://rstyle.me/+wl9b-8UTKzi2xpIlJW_EyA

      • Carol S.
        May 6, 2020 / 11:08 am

        Thank you so much, I followed the link and purchased the cabinet handles in packages of 25 and am using them in kitchen and bathrooms. Very classic, nice and heavy, look great!! I will send you pictures, fyi.

        • Michele
          Author
          May 6, 2020 / 8:10 pm

          Yay! Thanks so much for letting me know. 🙂

  2. Amy
    April 25, 2020 / 10:00 am

    Great tips as usual!! 😊 Love how you think!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 25, 2020 / 11:12 am

      Thanks, Amy. I hope this finds you and yours well and keeping the calm! xox

  3. Joanna
    April 25, 2020 / 5:14 pm

    I love looking at kitchens. I moved my kitchen into the dining area to have the view out to my garden. The dining area was a bigger footprint so it seemed better use of the space. I love my new white kitchen! I keep my counters and island clear, excepting a Keurig. And, always fresh flowers on the island. It is so easy to wipe down the kitchen after baking or cooking.
    Your home is so serene, Michele. Thank you for opening your doors to us. 🙏🏼

    • Michele
      Author
      April 25, 2020 / 6:41 pm

      I keep thinking about expanding into our dining room, Joanna. It’s what we intended to do before we learned we couldn’t take down the wall. We don’t use the dining room much so it truly makes more sense. Thank you for reminding me it’s not a crazy idea. Thanks for reading!

  4. Kathie Johnson
    April 26, 2020 / 12:09 am

    Your thoughts today stir the feelings of joy I remember having, forged ahead on painting adventures! I miss myself! ha! Good feelings felt again, hope for joy to come again soon! Peace be with you, my fairy of good vibes!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 26, 2020 / 9:24 am

      Joy is coming – so many of these shadows will disperse – the sun will rise, and we will be changed yet comforted as the uncertainty reveals hidden hope. Thank you for leaning into the goodness. xox

  5. Carol S.
    April 28, 2020 / 8:43 am

    Oh thank you so much! That’s what I’m going to go with, appreciate it and hope you have a hello lovely day! I cleaned my counters more than usual this weekend, inspired by this post lol. Have you discussed how you clean your minuet counters and sorry if I’ve asked that before. I’ve been using Stone and Steel 409 which is supposed to be ok for quartz…what say you?

    • Michele
      Author
      April 28, 2020 / 9:39 am

      Ask as often as you like, Carol – I love to hear from you! I go for gentle cleaning of the quartz. I first wipe it down using a cotton cloth with a little lemon dish soap and water and then I use a dry cloth, spraying Williams-Sonoma’s Meyer Lemon countertop spray (which has essential oil in it and smells luscious). Here is what I use: https://rstyle.me/+i1Ni-0eQBLfUHVsXgvlIdg Most cleaning supplies make me feel allergic or get a runny nose, so I have stuck with these since they are effective and don’t irritate me.

      • Carol S.
        May 6, 2020 / 1:11 pm

        Alrightee then, I love lemon scent so will try that spray. I like to follow your shopping links…sometimes I don’t get the item you recommend but a similar one, hope you get some credit for my shopping lol! Such beautiful photos in all your posts. Thanks for all!

        • Michele
          Author
          May 6, 2020 / 8:09 pm

          Thanks so much for following them! Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t – depends on if you already have stuff in cart or how long the cookie duration is. I’m just appreciative you read the blog! 🙂

    • Michele
      Author
      May 26, 2020 / 9:58 pm

      Thanks so much, Bev. I’ll be there for sure! Hope you are doing well and hanging in there. 🙂

  6. May 30, 2020 / 12:41 am

    You have such a beautiful kitchen! I really enjoyed your post! Just found you from your Shoestring Elegance feature! I would love to invite you to share with Charming Home and Garden Link Party!

    • Michele
      Author
      June 1, 2020 / 12:17 am

      Thanks, Kim! I linked up with you fabulous bloggers and appreciate you introducing me to your amazing blog, home, and party! See you over there. 🙂

        • Michele
          Author
          June 3, 2020 / 8:24 am

          Yippeee! Thanks so much, Kim – heading over to your place now. 🙂

  7. June 2, 2020 / 7:02 am

    Beautiful Post. Look for your feature on Wednesday’s Charming Homes & Gardens Link Party.
    Rachel

    • Michele
      Author
      June 2, 2020 / 10:26 am

      Thanks so much, Rachel. So honored. Looking forward to gathering with you and so many inspiring creatives again.

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