Hey there thrifty-minded friends! I moved into my apartment a little over a year ago but am STILL trying to decorate each room. It just takes time to unpack, adjust and get a picture of what you want your new place to look like. I recently finished my living room am moving on to the kitchen area. Progress!
At the moment I have three core things I consider as I plot my decorating plan of attack. First, I have to consider cost because I’m broke! Second, I consider the fact that I live in a tiny apartment with very little space. I can’t be building and moving in new pieces of furniture or anything. Utilizing space is a must. And third, I want it to look good. I won’t just pick something out just because I can afford it. I err on the side of simple rather than quantity.
With those three things in mind, I’ve come up with FIVE simple ideas to use when decorating a new kitchen area (or re-decorating your old kitchen!).
(1) Make Tiny Changes
You know how buying a new shower curtain can completely change the look of your bathroom? The same thing goes for new towels and potholders in the kitchen. If you’ve just moved and are unpacking some of your old stuff, it’s likely that you’ve used the same things for years. If you can afford it, use those old things as cleaning rags and pick up a few new things! It makes more of a difference than I ever thought it could.
If you have a sewing machine, you can use old jeans or cheap material from Walmart to make your own potholders. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to do this… if I can make them, so can you!
Another fun thing, now that it’s garage sale season, is to look around for a new-to-you fun and fancy dish. Use it to display your fresh fruit. Making stops at local garage sales is also a great way to get to know the different neighborhoods and people in your new city!
(2) Get Creative & Use What You’ve Got
Something I’ve been trying to do is to make use of my food, utensils, and spices to decorate. I mean, you’re going to have all those things in your kitchen anyway, you might as well make them look cool, right? For example, you may have bags of sugar, flour and popcorn in a cupboard. Instead of packing those away, put them into individual glass jars and display them!
Another thing that looks cool sitting out are spices and olive oil jars. Line them up above a cupboard or counter or find a sweet spice rack. If you’re feeling really crafty and have the room, you can even create individual spice jars with labels.
(3) Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs
Okay, don’t freak out. If you’re anything like me, attempting to keep a plant alive doesn’t have a great outlook for ya. However, herbs are the one thing I have actually been successful at keeping alive and well. I believe in you! They also take up very little space, which is a plus if you live in a shoebox of an apartment. The only thing you need besides a pot/jars and soil is a bit of sunlight. This is honestly one of the most rewarding projects for your kitchen. You can buy terra cotta pots for like a quarter each, seeds are only a buck or two and you don’t need much potting soil. And in a week or so, you’ve got fresh herbs! Your kitchen has a nice smell, looks fresh and you’ve got homegrown ingredients for some delicious recipes. I’ve already scouted a recipe for pesto because my basil is starting to come up.
(4) Bring Back the Lost Arts!
After working out how to make my own potholders, I have slowly been learning a few other “lost arts” like embroidery and canning. The thing is, these types of things are seriously in vogue at the moment and places like Terrain charge an arm and a leg for them! You can make them yourself, for a tiny fraction of purchasing them. I bought my plain, white flour sack towels at Bomgaars for $2 a piece. If you don’t have Bomgaars, Amazon has them from several places and your local craft store will have embroidery floss and the other necessary supplies.
Another of these “lost arts” is canning. This is actually more involved, so if you skip to the next paragraph I don’t blame you! But even if you can’t muster the energy or desire to can for yourself, see if you can find a friend who does. They just look colorful and trendy!
For this last thing, you can make it as simple or complex as you want. You can make something simple like a chalkboard to write your grocery list on or something more involved like making a pots and pans rack out of an old ladder.
If you want to make a chalkboard, all you need is a flat surface (i.e. anything glass, metal, plastic or even wood) and chalkboard spray paint in a can. Yeah, it’s that simple! Or if you want to go even more simple, you can make a dry erase board out of an old window by using the glass to write on. It looks rustic and shabby chic in a kitchen! All you need are the markers.
Another fun and easy thing, if you have wall space, is using a burlap coffee sack with an old bulletin board. I got several sweet burlap coffee sacks from a local coffee roaster for free. They have so many that they’re usually happy to give them away. Then just stretch the bag around the edges of the bulletin board and staple the bag on the backside. Boom. You can use it as art AND a bulletin board.
Shown above is a ladder shelf that my lovely cousins made for me. They literally used scrap wood and leftover paint from another project! I wish I still had room in my current kitchen for it but for now it will have to live at my parents’. I just wanted to share it because I love it so much!
Hopefully these ideas will get you started. What ideas can you share with me as I continue to transform my own kitchen?
About the Author: Victoria is a grad student in Nebraska and was once a champion mutton buster at the Days of 56 Rodeo. Yee haw! She currently works for HireAHelper.
Photo courtesy of Ross Catrow, Tyler Burrus, Grannies Kitchen, and Lori L. Stalteri.