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While you may institutionally place art in the living room, bedroom and often times the dining room, you may not always think about the kitchen in this way. Art is a great way to enhance your kitchen design and I'm goings to show you how.
Wall art works particularly well in a kitchen where the design is mostly functional. Abstract art in particular because you need not worry about whether the subject matter is appropriate. There’s also lots of leeway with color palette, without getting cutesy.
This clean white kitchen, which was actually part of The Design Files Open House sale last year, is punctuated with fun pops of color, from the counter stools to the dinnerware. A pair of prints featuring pastel shapes are hung high on the wall, providing relief from the dark mass of the shelf.
Straightforward abstracts are great for adding color and interest to a kitchen without necessitating contemplation. “Geometric Color VII” would look even more crisp in a minimalist, contemporary space, perhaps drawing on colors from an adjacent room. “Abstract Black White Strokes” would add a bit of texture and grounding black to an either all white kitchen or one done in wood, and “Sometimes II” by Jaime Packard would work well in a classic white kitchen, or even one with accent colors on the island or backsplash.
The kitchen of Australian photographer, stylist, buyer, and seller Kara Rosenlund’s 19th-century cottage is inspired by bakeries and butcher shops. Functional materials and salvaged bits work with the bones of the house, while the clean palette makes fresh.
The oil portrait that leans against the backsplash plays on her love for vintage elements with character, and provides a focal point beneath the open shelving display of white dinnerwares. Although the subject may not be anyone important, he seems to belong.
Portraiture adds personality to a space, especially to the kitchen where personal touches can be scarce. A black and white photograph, like that of “Marilyn Monroe Dining”, which is an instant conversation starter. Artist Michelle Oxenberg's “Look Up” brings in color, without the commitment to a full-on face, while the stylized piece, “Woman's Face Sketch II”, is a delicate touch that subtly infuses emotion.
Brazilian architect Mauricio Arruda’s apartment in São Paulo is filled with rich color and an abundance of varied artwork, kitchen included. The celadon tile takes cues from the adjacent rich turquoise dining room. The black and white landscape photo that hangs there is a bit moody, matching the black countertop and appliances, without distracting from the whimsical mid-century modern clock and unexpected placement of knives.
Landscapes always suit a kitchen, especially when a real view is absent. The acid colors of “Summer Breeze” would enliven a traditional white wainscoted kitchen. The framed diptych “The Tree”, sophisticated but simple, is easily incorporated into almost any decorative style. A pair of hand painted landscapes called “Morning Meditation” by Madeline Clark would look especially cozy in an antique cottage kitchen.
Still life paintings are another easy genre to incorporate into kitchens, given typical subject matter, like fruit, flowers, and pottery. The kitchen pictured here is a pleasant mix of retro (the Smeg fridge), industrial (the stainless steel countertops and bare lightbulb), elegant (the glasses and dishes), and earthy (the artwork).
“Arrangement II”, a limited edition piece signed and numbered by artist Olivia Maxweller, brings a burst of color, as well as texture thanks to its vigorous brushstroke. “Winesap Apples” pictures a time-honored subject that never goes stale, and “Still Life with Green Apples”, channels Europe with its Italian-style earthenware jugs.
The classic white kitchen of blogger Centasational Girl is imbued with subtle ocean hues thank to her collection of watercolors, including a green and yellow owl. Instead of arranging an entire menagerie, she ties the pieces together through color and an overall nature theme. Crockery in the glass-front cabinets echoes the colors of the artwork.
“White Horse” canvas print can be serious or silly, deeding on your interpretation. It’s a nice touch in a suburban home. The “Pelican” canvas is a cute piece for a cottage at the beach, while the "Hare Maison” would lend French flair to a rustic country house with a oil-rubbed wood dining table and mismatched plates.
This 1920s loft in Milan, Italy, formerly a glazing factory, was renovated by Studio B + M. The finishes are distinctly Italian—sleek and black—but charming, original elements remain, like the fireplace, brick inset, and slanted wood slat ceiling. The simple typographical piece states that this kitchen, despite its well-worn floor planks, is firmly grounded in the 21st century.
Typographic art can be a fun reflection of the state of your family. “Grand Central Subway”, a giclee print with gloss laminate finish in an inverse black frame isn't just colorful, it might harken back to a busy mom’s past days as a singleton in the city. “Life Hands You Lemons” is a sassy statement on a simple silhouette in high color. “Respect” is perfect for a young family’s kitchen, where so much happens and is learned.
Image credits: Brooke Holm for The Design Files, Remodelista, Photo by Ricardo Labougle for Casa Vogue, Mikkel Vang for Vogue Living Australia, Censational Girl, Photo by Denise Bonenti for Elle Decoration UK