How To Make Your New Kitchen Feel Super Homey

You've probably heard the cliché that the kitchen is the heart of the home more times than you can count, but it's a cliché for a reason — because it's true. Especially with recent trends toward buying and renting smaller spaces, per Aceable, kitchen countertops and informal dining spaces have made formal dining rooms obsolete. That makes kitchens one of the places where much of our interaction and gathering occurs.

Considering we spend so much of our lives in this home area, from grabbing coffee refills to prepping gourmet appetizers, it should be a warm, comfortable space, but that's still extremely functional. So how do you make one of the most used areas in your home into the coziest, too? We've collected some of the top tips for creating a lush kitchen and dining space that will have you opting for more time next to the fridge and less time in front of the TV.

1. Let go of all-white everything

As we work to create spaces that feel truly unique, one of the ways to bring in your personal style is through color splashes. JMC Home Improvement Specialists notes that the enormously popular all-white kitchen has waned in popularity, though it had previously been discussed as timeless. Sometimes, white kitchens can read as timeless in the same way as a hospital room — industrial, generic, and sterile.

Some of the best ways to give your kitchen some much-needed color can come in a variety of budgets and reno-levels. Painting your cabinets, building or replacing a backsplash, adding a colorful table runner, or bringing some live plants into the kitchen are all great places to start. If you're attached to the clean look of white kitchens, pull in some small details in a single color, like rose pink vases and glassware or terra cotta ceramics. Even off-white accents can warm up your kitchen. Not sure where to get started? Check out our list of amazing kitchen cabinet colors for some inspiration.

2. Make a seating area you actually want to sit in

If you want your kitchen to be the place where guests and your family gather instead of the couch, you need to make a space that is just as comfortable. Office Interiors notes the importance of ergonomic seating, which has numerous benefits like improved posture and productivity, which is especially important if the kitchen counter is also your office desk. 

While industrial, backless stools are certainly cool and chic, they often lack cushions or much-needed lumbar support. Instead, consider a mid-century upholstered, armed barstool or even installing a banquette bench. You don't need to spend a fortune on custom seating — head to your local thrift store, find a bench in need of TLC and let some strategically placed cushions and pillows do the rest.

Whether you're enjoying your meal times in the kitchen or want a place your kids can comfortably do homework while you cook, a lush seating area is a must-have for cozifying the space. Plus, it makes for a great place to have an evening glass of wine or cup of tea.

3. Warm it up with dynamic lighting

Like any room in your house, the kitchen needs a lighting scene that can adapt throughout the day. Even if you're lucky enough to have a kitchen with a ton of natural light, you will still want thoughtful touches that can make the space feel warm and intimate when the sun goes down. Plus, as Total Electrical Solutions notes, you need to be able to clearly see what you're doing in the kitchen to avoid any accidents.

An overhead lighting fixture is a great way to add a ton of light to the kitchen, and you can really highlight your style. Moroccan chandeliers, boho wicker pendants, and reclaimed wood beam fixtures can bring a ton of character. If you are renting or don't have the budget for a new lighting fixture, you can still make some major upgrades. Under-shelf battery-operated LED lights can make your prep areas easier to work in, and a simple table lamp on the countertop can add mood and much-needed lighting. Opt for warm or yellow-toned light bulbs to keep the kitchen from becoming too bright.

4. Go au naturel

You don't have to bring out buckets of paint to get a charming, cozy kitchen. If big pops of color aren't your thing, there are still a ton of great ways to cozy things up. One of which is bringing in natural wood tones. According to Pella Windows & Doors of New England, natural wood finishes are having a major moment. Using stained wood adds an organic, rustic, harmonious warmth to the room. Expect to see plenty more natural wood farm tables, butcher's block countertops, and even large format wood cutting boards taking up plenty of countertop in real estate.

If you want to keep things real budget-friendly, try putting a nice wooden breadboard or bamboo cutting board out on the counters. Additionally, there is a lot of wood furniture available at antique malls and thrift stores. Buying second-hand is also a sustainable choice that you can feel good about when remodeling your kitchen. A lot of distressed and discarded pieces just need a little sanding and a stain to look good as new.

5. Keep it spick and span

As much as a cozy kitchen should look lived in (appropriately cluttered, functional, and warm), you still want the space to be clean and mess-free. You know that terrible sinking feeling of coming home from work to a sink full of dishes or pasta sauce spills on the counter from the previous night — it's one of the easiest ways to make your kitchen the last place you want to spend time in. So develop a routine for keeping your kitchen in order that won't require hours of cleaning after dinner each night.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for making cleanup easy and pain-free. One, set aside 10 minutes in your morning routine to unload the dishwasher so dishes aren't stacking up on the countertop throughout the day. When you get home and find a mess has accumulated on the kitchen counters, the wear and tear of daily life, House Cleaning Tips recommends using David Allen's two-minute rule. The rule is simple — if the task can be completed in under two minutes, do it right now. This will help keep cleaning easy, unfussy, and stress-free.