white kitchen



Add visual dynamics & life to a dull dark kitchen!


A couple of things.  I am advising these ideas on the basis that you are either renting or you don’t have the disposable cash to undertake major renovation in the short term.

While these suggestions will cost you, the cost can be minimised by visiting op shops and second-hand stores. Plus, I am making the suggestions based on the fact that if it was me, I would always buy items or stuff that I love anyway, irrespective of cost; that way, anything purchased can travel to multiple destinations with you if need be.

I have listed retailers for some of the objects below, but the big ‘op shops’ & secondhand furniture stores + Ebay, have tons of furniture, rugs, prints, frames etc.

You do not need to spend a lot of money.  Plus, you are helping the environment by recycling furniture etc and often you are also assisting the less fortunate in our society. 

Firstly, we will consider individual situations and then a case study at the bottom.

brightening up a kitchenThe top of the fridge is an ideal place to put indoor plants.  Remember the ‘balance of three’ concept.  While they can be three plants the same and in the same pots, if you are trying to negate dullness, it is preferable to choose differing plants, leaves and heights.

This creates depth, visual excitement and interest.

Depending on your preferences for colour or not, the pots can be the same colour or hues that work in your greater scheme.

Print and plants on top of the fridge!

Sometimes you are left with a refrigerator that is free standing.  This is a great place to put a little collection to add character to your kitchen, including a print or a poster.

liven up your kitchen with plants A print can go on top of the fridge!  It has to have a support, so that it can just lean against the wall.  Alternatively, like this image it can go on the wall ‘beside the fridge’.

Heads up!  Always buy an ‘editioned print’ if you can.

limited edition printWhile you should buy for the love of the image or technique always, when you buy a ‘poster / reproduction’ as opposed to an editioned print, you are pretty much paying for the frame only, the image is basically photocopied.

This stunning contemporary image available from TW Fineart, starting at $165

There are a wide variety of table lamps suitable for the end of a kitchen bench against the wall.  They can serve multiple purposes in this context.  I probably would not go for a fabric shade if it is close to the cooking zone.

This one from Living Styles

Rugs and a lamp add a lot of character!

Keeping in mind the colour palette you are subscribing to, either cool or warm, rugs and a lamp can add a lot of character to a kitchen.

rug in the kitchen

This rug is ideal for a rental and a kitchen because it has a wide variety of colours and won’t show the dirt!

Go to Temple & Webster for a selection of rugs

Warm colours!

Fabric Traders Rhumba Tropical

Warwick Lempika ‘Laurie Manuka’

Fabric can be used to hang on a blank wall to add colour and deflect dullness.  

There are fantastic good quality fabrics around these days, the two on the left from Fabric Traders and Warwick fabrics respectively, ditto on the right.  Don’t forget that typically ‘home decor fabrics’ are often wider so you may not need as much.

Restoring the Roost blogspot
Fabric can also be hung under the bench top facing into the living area to hide sombre murky colour.

Cool colours!

Warwick Copacabana Amazonia ‘Gold’

Fabric Traders Waverly ‘Hojas Cubanos’

Featured image:  Home & Garden France


I don’t like harshly criticising anyone’s personal taste but this kitchen is overburdened because it is dull and dark.

I am aware that many people either do not have a lot of disposable income or are renting long term; if the status quo means you have to live with a kitchen like this for some time, and it depresses you there are many things you can do to make it look a lot better.

Identify the areas in the kitchen where you can make changes.

In this case the island bench, the floor, the window, two walls beside the top row of cabinets & the cabinetry sides (top rows), and the ‘front facing’ rectangle under the bench top.

Check with your landlord first if renting.  The landlord may not care what you do to ‘a kitchen like this’, but they may care also. 


  • Rug x 2 + fabric or matchstick blind
  • Prints or posters
  • Plants, both small and large-ish
  • Fruit bowl & fruit
If renting, ensure whatever you undertake does not hurt the integrity of the original kitchen. The changes have to be easy to remove without leaving any noticeable damage. 
Image courtesy Pinterest & the Golden Girl Blog. Note the matchstick blind here too! See below!

Additionally, it is better to buy ‘items you love, irrespective’ because when you leave you may want them for the next house.

Some general guidelines!

If you live in a hot climate, choose a cool palette to counter the darkness, and if you live in a cold climate choose warmer hues.

In this instance you would use both the pale end through to deeper shades in either the ‘cool or warm’ palettes.  This gives a sense of colour transition and continuation.


First up buy a large rug for the floor – it needs to project out past the end of the bench into the walking space.

Secondly, choose a smaller rug or fabric for the bench top, either the same as the floor rug or similar. If similar ensure it is within the general colour palette of the floor rug.  The bench rug needs to be long and thin.

Image courtesy Pinterest & Home of Pondo.
Note: Plants can always be used as window covering.

The sink and the window area potentially provide a great place for collating objects.  The upper wall cabinet too (the far side of the sink front facing).  Together they make another discrete little area.


  • Small mat approx 50 / 60 x 70cm – choose a single colour in your palette
  • A few plants / different heights, leaf shape and pot colour (keep pots to neutral colours)
  • Fabric or blind for window
  • Fruit bowl and fruit (only if you are not putting the fruit bowl & fruit in another location)
  • Posters and flyers for the side of the kitchen cabinet


  • Blind or a fabric hang; ensure it is within your palette & neutral, like natural linen, flax or rattan.
  • You don’t want to ‘dot colour’ across the space, it will make it visually offensive.
  •  Or, hang plants in front of it, see above!

Arrange the fruit bowl and plants on the mat on the side of the sink with the most open space, under and at the end of the ‘front facing’ outer wall of cabinet.  Put the poster/ flyer on the cabinet wall.

Keep the fruit bowl simple and natural.

Image courtesy Pinterest and Rachel Reider Interiors
The natural window covering with rug, plants and poster within this discrete spot will transform the sink area!
This area is the entrance to the kitchen so if it looks amazing it will be immediately noticeable, and as such will definitely liven up your kitchen!


  • Indoor plants /  different leaf shapes, heights & bowls
  • Rug /  long and narrow OR, quality fabric like linen or hessian
  • Poster / print / flyers
  • Lamp (optional)
Image courtesy Pinterest and Appleseed Primitive

Place your rug or fabric on the benchtop (if it is good quality, it won’t need hemming) and arrange the other items at the intersection of the bench and the wall.  Make sure you have a water catcher for your plants.

Depending on how busy your collection is, a poster, flyer(s) or print can go both, on the wall and on the side of the upper cabinet.  If both, make sure they are not the same size; one larger & one smaller. 

In the ‘case study’ kitchen, this area is seriously in need of restoration; that is the underside facing the dining room.

  • Posters or your childrens art work, or even a matchstick blind.
  • If you choose fabric, buy 2cm long ‘screw in’ hooks & 1cm round hoops; approx 8 – 10 depending on the length of your bench top.  A ‘final bench length of cord’ to gather the fabric along, and iron-on double-sided sticky tape.
  • Cautionary note: If you are renting especially, make sure you have measured the ‘thickness of your bench top’ – you do not want the screws to come through on the ‘top side’.
    1. Image courtesy Pinterest and Better Homes & Gardens

      Turn the fabric over at the top lengthways and iron it down with doublesided iron-on sticky tape; leaving a hole wide enough to thread the cord.

    2. Sew the sturdy rings ‘a little down from the top’ on the ‘backside of the fabric’.
    3. Insert the screws ‘at intervals’ along the underside of the ‘bench top itself’, ensuring that they do not come through the ‘top side’
    4. Hang the fabric or blind.
    5. If using posters, flyers or your children’s art works, ensure the entire surface is covered.  No gaps!

On the side of the cabinet facing the dining area, put a gorgeous (interchangeable) poster, flyer or print, preferably one you don’t need to pay for: blue-tac it to the cabinet.

Image courtesy Pinterest and creativemarket.com
Cautionary note:  If placing prints, flyers, posters near the oven or cook top, make sure they are ‘disposable’  With combined heat and moisture from cooking, they won’t last.
If all else fails fresh flowers & wooden spoons liven up the kitchen!
Few things add homeliness better than flowers and collections of implements like wooden spoons.  And / or, lots of greenery in a vase improves any room!
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