Simplified Decorating: How to Decorate Kitchen Countertops

1 simple rule for kitchen counter decor and 10 items to make them pretty but still functional while cutting the clutter.

We’re on Day 3,959,309 of room refreshing over here (or something like that anyway), so it seems like a good day to get the kitchen counter decor clutter in check. 

Organizing and refreshing and styling the little spaces is what saves me in winter until we can bust out the paint and power tools in spring. (It’s 70 degrees outside today though, so we’re already getting the itch for home improvement over here.)

But until then, our kitchen counter decor needed some help. When the clutter starts collecting, I start getting antsy.

Pardon the crappy cell phone pic…

kitchen countertop before

It felt so good to remove every little thing on these countertops and give this place a long overdue deep cleaning.

But the kitchen countertop styling is the fun part, of course. 😉 The tricky thing is to decorate kitchen countertops without annoying clutter. 

kitchen countertop decor after

UPDATE: We gave this room a massively much-needed kitchen refresh a couple of years ago. You can see the budget-friendly no-demo makeover here. 

While I was at it, I figured this one would make a good addition to the Simplified Decorating series to breakdown how to decorate every nook and cranny in the home. 

So if you’ve ever been stuck on countertop decor, here’s the best solution.

cutting boards and planters for kitchen counter decor

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)

1 Simple Rule for Kitchen Counter Decor

The number one rule: The pretty stuff should also be functional. 

Because if you’re not going to actually use the items on your kitchen countertop almost daily, what’s the point of them really being there?

That’s how stuff makes the cut in our kitchen anyway.

cutting boards, tray, and bread box as kitchen counter decor

I like using all of these things on our countertops…

1. A Pedestal Bowl

It makes fruit pretty, especially ones that you want in easy reach. Olivia has been obsessed with pears lately for some reason, so I keep these in her reach to snack on.

2. A Candle

I like to light a candle while cooking dinner and keep it burning until bedtime to ward off any not-so-nice cooking smells. I love this little pedestal to keep ours on.

candle and fruit bowl for kitchen counter decor

3. A Tray

I like having a tray in the corner of our countertop to hold all of our frequently used essentials – salt and pepper grinders, olive oil bottle, butter dish, and utensil holder of wooden spoons. And a plant to help freshen the air.

tray with crock of cooking utensils, plant, oil, butter, and salt and pepper as kitchen countertop decor

4. Wooden Cutting Boards

We’re always needing these in easy reach.

cutting boards for kitchen counter decor

5. Pretty Soap Dispensers

I like using these glass soap dispensers instead of the plastic bottles just to keep our sink looking nice. I found this little tray to help corral them. And I used my label maker to make one for “dishes” and one for “hands”.

hand soap and dish soap tray for kitchen countertop decor

6. A Live Plant (or Two)

I’m attempting to improve my green thumb over here. Haha! But I do like how they make our kitchen feel clean.

decor beside a kitchen sink

simple kitchen counter decor with fruit tiered tray and coffee station

7. Tiered Basket

We use this little brass one for separating our avocados from our bananas and apples.

tiered tray as kitchen countertop decor

8. Coffee Mug Rack and Coffee Canister

Just to keep a couple quick to grab. The faster I get my coffee in the morning, the better. 😉

coffee station on a kitchen countertop

9. Bread Box

I love how big this one is yet it’s still modern and minimal.

10. Knife Block

Ours have served us well since we got it as a wedding gift 9 years ago.

cutting boards, bread box, knife block, and tray to decorate kitchen countertops

That’s it! We use every single item on our countertops, but they definitely don’t feel like clutter now.

And now maybe this will motivate us to keep them clutter-free. Here’s hoping!

kitchen counter decor and kitchen shelves with green cabinets

Do you have any other kitchen counter decor essentials? 

Olivia decided ours was missing an Easy Bake Oven, so we currently have that going for us. 😉 And Regan’s dishwasher magnets are back. But it’s all still every bit as beautiful.

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it here:

How to Decorate Kitchen Countertops | 1 simple rule for kitchen counter decor and 10 items to make them pretty but still functional while cutting the clutter.

Want more kitchen refresh ideas?


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I update my kitchen cheaply?

Change out the hardware, incorporate a few houseplants, swap out your light fixtures, declutter, install open shelving, or create a coffee bar.

Are white kitchen cabinets out of style?

Nope! White cabinets are timeless and while they may ebb and flow in terms of what is “en vogue”, they never are considered out of style.

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  1. Hi Lauren. Do you remember where you purchased the round tray you use for the butter dish and plant? The suggested trays are not the one pictured. Many thanks!

  2. You presented ideas to help keep kitchen counter clean, that I never would have thought of. For example, “if you are not using it, then put it away.” so true. I just looked up from my computer, and saw things on my counter that we hardly uses. Guess where it’s now going, thanks to you.

  3. Wonderful post, going to corral my stuff right now. And btw, I’d love to see the legs of the bar stools match your cabinet handles.

  4. It looks a lot like the faux tin panels that are available at big box hardware stores that Ive used for a backsplash in the past. They run about $20for an 18″x18″ panel. Very easy to install.with a beautiful result.

  5. Lauren, your kitchen is beautiful! I love the cabinets and the color of the lower ones. If I could re-do my kitchen I would make it look just like yours! Mine are the same design doors and drawers but they are oak and are getting rather orangey-looking. The room is small–much smaller than yours so it would look good with some lighter upper cabinets. Sigh! Oh, well, not gonna happen any time soon, but thanks for the post and the suggestions for countertop decor.

  6. less is more…especially in the kitchen! I hate any clutter, (as everyone else does too). But I’m a put everything behind a door or in a drawer kinda person. The only thing I like on my cupboards are actually pretty things…well, soaps, salt/pepper/fruit are probably the only use daily items I find we need. But I guess that’s opposite of what you’re saying…lol. oh well, works for me.

  7. Agreed! I’m surprised how much more I use my Kitchenaid mixer, since I have it on the counter in a convenient place.

  8. Your kitchen is beautiful! Do you find that your placement works with the flow of the space? For instance, the utensils are across the room from the cook top as is the olive oil dispenser? I recently took everything off my counters, hung a magnetic knife strip near where I store the cutting boards, and moved the olive oil and utensils beside the cooktop. I refuse to hide my kitchenaid mixer as so many do because I can’t stand the thought of hauling it out whenever I want to bake. I’d never use it if it were in a pantry or cupboard!

  9. I think one of the key things is to use pretty containers and trays to help organize the clutter. When it looks pretty, I tend to try to keep the look under control…I love pretty! I have a spouse, however, that believes that a blank space is made for him to fill…so there is that…LOL!

  10. I agree 100%- if it’s on the counter it must be used daily. My husband had to really get on board with this when we married in 2016 because he lived with the thought that all the things can be on the counter. Ummm, no! LOL. Since he’s the cook I purchased a nice wooden tray to corral all the oils, vinegars and salt /pepper. The rest goes in the cabinet above. Then there is a knife block, a two tiered thing we use for fresh fruit and veggies, and I do leave the large mixer in the corner sine it’s so heavy and large it’s just easier out, and coffee maker. Hand soap and paper towels and that’s it. My OCD personality cannot handle too much clutter.
    We have our mail in a basket near the front door for mail and o clear that daily :). For the record I’m the same with the bathroom. Put the stuff away in organized drawers and cabinets. Everything has a place 🙂

  11. Interesting post and has me thinking about my problem areas! I want items I use everyday out on the counter and in a “safe” spot. I need to move my toaster further away from the sink and it could easily fit close to the coffee pot center. I like my antique jars with pasta/rice/beans on the counter (out of sight-out of mind). My real problem area is the sit down bar! All my bills and other paperwork seem to collect there no matter what kind of desk system I have set up. I make a lot of lists and all of that stuff collects on the counter! I should probably build in some nice drawers under the counter to corral all that stuff or something!

  12. Can I just say – Perfect timing!! my kitchen remodel is finally complete and I’ve been struggling with this very thing!! I’m taking your suggestions with me to go shopping for some of these exact items. Thank you!

  13. i leave my Cuisinart food processor on the counters. For years I put it away and often wouldn’t get it out because it was too cumbersome. I decided a while back that a pretty kitchen is one that a cook lives in. I use it so much more now and it has really cut down on my meal prep time. I agree everything has to be functional to make the cut.


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