Kitchens with Clutter...What Do We Really Want?

 I recently read a great article on Houzz 
regarding the trends 
or perhaps the endless confusion...
as to what really belongs in great kitchen design 
and when is 
too much, really way too much
what is that special "thing" we are all looking for right now?

Should kitchens be left bare, clean and spare,
to showcase appliances and gorgeous stone?
the clutter be confined under an island 
or in a freestanding cabinet?

Do we like open shelving 
to display our dishes and glassware?
is this just going to become a big dust collector?

Are we loving the vintage inspired kitchen,
 with rough limed stone and raw wood
is modern, sleek and classic our choice overall?


is it best to just tuck it all away and I mean everything...
behind doors and cabinets, 
just like we have been doing for decades?

  So here is the question....

is it 
clean clean clean
interesting personal and unique


Here are a few kitchens that I happen to think are all pretty darn wonderful...
each quite different and all with their own style, personality 
and each show examples of 
  what should/can be placed on or not
 (as the case may be) 
on counter tops, in shelves, cabinets, furniture etc 
the list goes on....
 the uncluttered classic kitchen 
with an incredible island...via Pinterest

notice how the ceiling mimics the pickled wood of the counter

 A Karin Blake kitchen...with folk art!  
She was one of the first to incorporate furniture into kitchens in the 1980s 
and she is a master of this look
A Nancy Koepke kitchen...lots of vintage and collections and so much to look at!
Could you do this one? I so could for a vacation home
 Meg Ryan...modern yet very warm...perhaps like the owner!

 Sarah Richardson...
she does great kitchens
 and all of them seem to be a bit different
This was not one of my favorite of her designs 
but I like many of the elements she used
 this is a modern interpretation of a country inspired kitchen...amazing!
 This looks to be a European kitchen...all of the elements really belong in this room
 and it doesn't seem cluttered
 Open shelving, but tidy and pulled together with a bit of industrial

I think I'm over industrial at the moment...just me

 Very minimalistic, with just a few touches of wood 

This is a pretty simple kitchen
 and would be very easy to do as a remodel
 Another classic kitchen with Ina Garten inspired glass canisters 
on the counters

Do we like canisters?
I like them and think they always belong 
in a great looking kitchen space
 but not over done and everyone loves 
a great looking french bottle rack with mugs
 I like the shelving,
 but I think this room was styled with way too many objects 
that don't really work together...why the cake and the round shell ball?

It's got a Shaw's sink for pete's sake... keep the clutter away!
 I think this kitchen is by Molly Frey....perfectly balanced and all great elements

 The whole idea of furniture in the kitchen is really wonderful
and I totally love the is definitely on my list of "must haves"
 More unique furniture, used as an island. 
 I like the way they took the uppers and made cubby like spaces for the dishes
 Heather Bullard's kitchen...this girl know what she's doing!

 Martha...I think

It's the repetition of a single element
 that works so well
 Collections in the kitchen? 
 I think I like this collection of hotel silver
 but is it too much of the same element?

 What about the idea of open shelving in the lower cabinets?...

I like this kitchen a lot but I doubt this is such a great idea.  
I have a feeling my dog would be in there licking the batter bowls!

But the period details are wonderful

 What do you think of the brick floors
and the wood counters? 

Probably with all of the different textures and design elements going on in this kitchen
 it  would not be great kitchen
 for lots of display 
and might start to look too cluttered

 The kitchen above is wonderful and I would really hesitate
 putting much of anything on the counters... 
you really just want to enjoy the size and the design
 Martha Stewarts Turkey Hill kitchen above is beautiful 
but I find all of the copper distracting, 
not to mention the up keep...argh!
 Here is Martha's new gleaming gray kitchen,
so much more soothing and interesting

 Martha really knows how to conquer the clutter!

 Here is one of my old kitchens...looking at this now I still like it,
 but I think I would change things at this point in time

 You couldn't actually work at this counter with all of this stuff 
but it looks great as a styled photo and all of the element work so nicely with one another....
even the bread matches!
 another kitchen with old furniture
 The Belgian de-constructed kitchen is the new hot look 
in many magazines and on blogs.

I like the look of this 
but it seems like an impossible place to do dishes or to actually prepare a meal,
but maybe if I were living here I could work around that!
 The "It's Complicated" kitchen looks pretty darn real to me...this looks like the counter top of someone who uses that sink and actually cooks

I guess that's the point with great set design, right?

 Grey is definitely the new white in kitchen design...
just enough counter clutter to be interesting and again no uppers in this photo
 A Nancy Fischelson kitchen...
she really knows how to add interest with vintage items 
and notice that there are no upper cabinets here either
and of course the famous Sally Wheat kitchen
 via Joni at Cote de Texas...this kitchen has been copied over and over by blog readers

once again...conquering the clutter 
but adding just enough interesting, visible elements to make you want to see more

I think this is a Pam Pierce kitchen....
More furniture, which I love and open concept styling 
 another brick floor!  
Trend alert!

 Jane Moore's kitchen via Veranda
is this the one?

no upper cabinets...check

Peri Wolfmans kitchen...again perfectly balanced 
with all of the things we seem to want right now

I think this photo is probably at least 10 years old 
but she just did this kitchen right!
and just to make sure you have not forgotten what a real life looser kitchen looks like...this is my kitchen in Ojai, when we first purchased this house.

 This is my idea of the worst clutter,
silly hanging pots, bad wine racks, gross tile and old cabinetry...

I like to think of my old kitchens like old boy friends
...we will never ever love each other ...ever again

don't call me...I'll call you...



  1. Wow. Love your post. I've been planning and dreaming for when we are able to remodel our kitchen. I'd be so happy if you are able to follow me. ~Jen

  2. OH I love some of these kitchen!! I love the one with the vintage bread boards to:)

  3. Great round up of kitchens! I think I would take the one from It's Complicated because it does look like it would work for real life. I do not care for the Veranda near the end. It does not look like a kitchen made for cooking..more for decorating!Just curious...what changes would you make to your beautiful former one?

  4. I just finished my kitchen remodel (a 15-month process). I prefer glass-fronted cabinets rather than open shelving to show off the pretties but keep the dust out. I like appliances hidden and vintage items (for me it is ironstone, hotel silver and Blue Willow) on the counters...just not too much. I mixed things up; a cherry island and gray-glazed cream painted wood perimeter cabinets, calcutta gold counters and backsplash throughout, a grand-scaled travertine hood and mirrored pantry with walls painted F&B Elephant's Breath. In my dotage, I decided to embrace my fancy girl.
    In another home, say in the country, I would love the brick floor and vintage furniture. It is so warm and welcoming. I love Jane Moore's kitchen because I am crazy for confit pots and tian bowls, but hers is not a cook's kitchen...beautiful to look at, though. Thanks for a fabulous post and lots of pinning.

  5. Great post. I'm not a fan of the deconstructed kitchen - I think in most homes it would just look out of place. I LOVE the open shelving concept but we've gone with glass front instead because of the dust and I'm totally with ya on the dogs getting into the open bottom shelves. When I saw that I kept picturing dust and dog hair getting all over the dishes - yuck! I loved looking at all these kitchens and the way you pointed out what works and what doesn't - gives me lots to think about in how our current kitchen works. :)

  6. I am a no clutter kitchen person - all my small appliances, even the telephone, are inside cabinets - but I like to see some decorative elements so I have glass doors. The kitchen in the second photo, which is by Lisa Luby Ryan, is one of my all-time favorites, but with two Labs the open shelving would never work, so I would replicate the pickled wood island but with closed sides.
    Have a great weekend!

  7. Great post, so many pretty kitchens. I like the look of open shelves, but since our kitchen is open to the rest of our home I think it would look to cluttered. I like my counters and island clear of appliance and "stuff." My dad says it looks like nobody lives here. He prefers everything out and ready to use. That's a man for you.

    Question: what would you change about your previous kitchen? I thought it was perfect! Also, any ideas on what to do with the space above cabinets? I hate that space and would like to enclose it or something, but the budget doesn't allow for it. Breadboards maybe?

  8. So many great kitchens. I definitely like very little decorative items on counters in a kitchen, but this may be because my kitchen is very small. The open under cabinets seem like clutter to me and your comment about the dog is spot on, my doggies would be sniffing around for tidbits. I've had brick floors in a kitchen, murder on my legs and back, but I loved the look. I prefer my wood floors for comfort. I like MS stainless pans hanging, but agree with you that the copper would be labor intensive in upkeep. I personally love the Jane Moore kitchen, not sure I'll ever own a deconstructed kitchen but she did it well, in my opinion. Kitchens are my favorite room to visit in the way of images.
    Great post.

  9. Hi Kelly,

    Have been visiting your amazing blog for the longest time but have never had the courage to comment until I started blogging (back in May of this year). I absolutely adore this post! Thanks for the very thorough presentation of the subject. Even though we just completed our new house in the Cretan countryside this past January, I sometimes question myself with these issues. In the end, it's Sarah Richardson, Heather Bullard, Sally Wheat and Peri Wolfman for me-new country maybe? I decided to go with white for my kitchen (with French country colour pops), but I find myself being drawn to the grey lately, too, which I consider kind of modern. Ultimately, function and ergonomics need to be coupled with aesthetics and what is appealing to you. If you can get that combo right, it's heaven!

    Thanks again for the great post. I'm glad to be your newest follower! Hope you'll come by for a visit.

    Have a great weekend.


  10. Oh my I love kitchens!! I think all the styles have evolved and changed over the years because, dont we??! We go from single (and needing lots of hangout space, room for booze) to newly married (needing lots of room for all sorts of new pots/pans, cook books,etc), to having children (where the heck are alll of these kitchens tupperware storage?!) and then to having teenagers (can I squeeze one more barstool on the island, needing more convenient, easy to clean surfaces!).
    I think the kitchen/dining areas are the MOST ever-changing rooms in the house do to the constant changing life we all lead.
    My favorite kitchens are classic and timeless, with a slight punch of flair or color. Keep the main ingredients simple, that way you can change and roll with the flow.... white subway tiles, neutral all-purpose counters, stainless or white appliances, great task lighting, and comfortable seating :) I love whites, neutrals and greys. They will NEVER go out of style! XOX

    ps - you are such a me more of your new Ojai kitchen girlie!! ;)

  11. Great post. Love the photo's you used to illustrate your points. Have a great weekend and please stop by some time :)


  12. Hi Kelley great post! are any of us ever really really happy with our kitchens? I do love mine but can think of a million ways to make it more "me"...

    I do keep things out because I cook a LOT.. and I do use furniture.. an old French table for an island...

    Great inspiration here!



  13. I love a little clutter, but it also has to be functional and organized, not just for looks. I also love the brick floors. I want to take out my dark walnut wood floors and put in the thin brick that I used in my front room. All you have to do is sweep them and they don't show a thing!

  14. Great line-up and wonderful observations on your part. Loved this post, thanks for all your hard work pulling it all together for us!
    Happy weekend,

  15. Love all the inspiration shots... wow! I think moderation is always the best way to go. Why would anyone want ALL open shelving or ALL closed up spaces? I love having a few open shelves to show things off or for everyday items, but I would never want to have everything on display. I also think having all closed doors makes a space feel unlived in. Gorgeous kitchens, all of em. Cheers!

  16. Great post Kelly, I wish I could owned 4 houses and could design each house with a different style. There are so many styles I like and couldn't put all of them in one design.

  17. What a GREAT collection of kitchens!! I kept saying YES~That one...until I saw the next! Always loved your kitchen....and would give an eyetooth, and maybe evena kidney for some of those great green cannisters you have!

  18. One of my favorite kitchen shots of all time is of your old house with the open shelving and those big green jars on them. *Organized* kitchen clutter at its best! Seriously, I still refer to that shot, and the one of the bathroom with the postcards.

  19. Kelley...YOU ARE SO FUNNY..."don't call me..." I am in Mammoth right now with our TINY but well equipped kitchen...stuff is spilling out on the room. At least in Newport we are sort of organized...but both kitchens are happy places. i LOVED this post and read it so slowly.

  20. Great post! I personally do not like too much clutter on the counter. I do like to see elements that people actually use that still look attractive ie utensils in an old pot etc. I do not like to see coffee makers, toasters or the like on one's counter. I love the idea of open shelves on the top but I am not very I always worry about the dust! I would never have open shelves on the bottom...Bobo would be licking them as well. And as a side note...can't wait to see your new kitchen (hopefully in a shelter mag), and your old kitchen still looks fab!

  21. This post is just great I keep going back to look. I am itching to get started on my own kitchen after looking through all these photos. Any tips on a good open shelf to use? It seems like weight might be an issue.

  22. This was a great post. I've decided if you really cook, you will have clutter! I just redid a kitchen in a farmhouse that we took down to the studs. I wanted white cabinets but my husband wanted red since its a farmhouse. I now love them just because they aren't the same as everyone elses.

  23. i have to say i ADORE your old kitchen! it really stands out with all the greens. i love it and wouldn't change a thing! also, i did love that first picture. a lot. and tons more.

  24. many beautiful kitchens!! I like how you put the one kitchen at the end...made me chuckle :)

  25. That's a an awesome kitchen. Its spacious and can bake more bread and heat meat.

  26. What a collection of kitchens! Fabulous post. They are all spectacular. Fun to look at all of them at once like that. Love it.

  27. This post came at a perfect time, as we had a hot water leak and the kitchen was torn out. I am still trying to decide what I like and this gave me many great ideas. Thank you, honestly 2 months+ with no kitchen starts to get very old with no end in site.

  28. Thank you for Nice information.

  29. Wow, so many beautiful kitchens...I have many of the same ones pinned for my future dream kitchen. My favorite is the one with the vintage bottle rack on the counter. I love glass front doors, the best of exposure without the dust & mess...I'm thinking that's an easy change I can make to update my kitchen...that and maybe painting my cabinetry. I adore the furniture type islands as well...they add so much warmth to a space. -Carrie

  30. Hi,

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    Glass for Cabinet Doors

  31. They all look great as a photo shoot, but so many of them look totally unusable. Because I have so much kitchen stuff that I actually use, I have no desire to clutter it up with bric-a-brac that merely looks interesting. The Peri Wolfman kitchen, for example: The repetitive pitchers look cool, but why would somebody need that many identical pitchers?

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