style on a shoestring


Kitchen/Dining area I designed for one of my clients 

The Kitchen is where we come together, talk about our day, catch up with the news, chat about everything and nothing, and entertain our friends.

This is why it’s important to make the kitchen a place where everyone wants to spend time. However, I often find that kitchen design today is sometimes sterile and can lack atmosphere.

But it’s easier than you think to decorate your kitchen by adding some of your own personality for not much money, time or effort. With a little imagination you can give the heart of your home a real design boost.

Here are some of my favourite kitchen decorating ideas…

Ten Simple & Stylish Kitchen Decorating Ideas
Ten Simple & Stylish Kitchen Decorating Ideas

My tip – Keep a folder of postcards, places, theatre programmes, autographs, newspaper cuttings… You can use them to keep updating your collages, and also to refresh your memory.

There is no need to buy expensive frames. Most department stores have ranges of assorted frames in colours and sizes for around £20. You can either use identical ones and hang them symmetrically– make sure you have even numbers, or make an assemblage of different frames in shapes and sizes.

1. a kitchen collage

When I was a child I loved making collages and I still make them today. I use photographs of family and friends or postcards of places I have enjoyed visiting.

Depending on your interests it could be celebrities, sports personalities, fashion icons, cartoon characters etc…


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available at Tiger ( £5

2. restaurant menus 

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I designed this dining room for one of my clients

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My Great Grandparents wedding menu. 19 courses!

Restaurant menus are often very attractive. In the past, famous artists like Picasso and David Hockney, designed some of them. It’s a great way to decorate a kitchen wall or a dining area. It also serves as a talking point over supper.

Quite often vintage and bric-a -brac shops sell old French menus which are my personal favourite.
My tip – In order to decide how to place the frames on the wall, first lay them on the floor and try different positions . When you are happy with your selection, take a picture of the layout. Its then easy to reproduce the composition on the wall.
3. use the family’s talents

Ask your kids to draw portraits of the family. That will keep them busy on a rainy day, and wonderful memories for all.

My tip – You can frame them individually or make a collage of them.

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4. posters

Posters are the obvious choice, depending on your interests, they can be famous paintings, travels, films, musicians, sporting events…

My tip – Start looking for original posters. They are much more expensive than copies, of course, but it could be the start of a valuable collection. Pullman Editions ( has a good selection of limited editions.

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5. “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

One of my passions is scouring bric-a-brac shops, brocantes and car boot sales. A collection of mismatched plates, dishes,  jugs, colourful glasses, sweet jars, old kitchen utensils… placed on shelves they give warmth to a room.

My tip – If you want to hang plates on the walls, hardware shops sell stickers you place at the back of them. They are invisible, therefore much nicer than the old fashion metal frames which often scratched the edges.
6. jars and bottles- a glass act
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My Tip – I would use the same style of jars, but there are no rules. You decide depending on what you are going to fill them with. As for bottles, I would pick two or three shapes, in the same or different colours.

Glass containers are much safer than plastic and metal. They are eco-friendly and sturdy. 
Glass jars look very attractive filled with shells and pebbles collected on your holidays. But you can fill them with anything you fancy, from different colour sand to spices, sweets, nuts…The list is endless. Pyrex is another form of glassware. It once had a dowdy image, but no more. Even the Conran Shop stocks a range of dishes. It is almost impossible to break and can go from the fridge to the oven.
Colourful bottles can also provide an attractive and inexpensive display- plain simple ones, or old pharmacy bottles, French syphon bottles, Mediterranean olive oil bottles…
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7. baskets, old & new

Baskets make a great display on shelves filled with fresh herbs. They also add fragrance to the room, and are useful for picnics.

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Photo by Grant Sainsbury

Ten Simple & Stylish Kitchen Decorating Ideas
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8. tins 

Old metal tins are not only decorative but useful to store coffee, sugar, dry herbs etc…

MY TIP – Car boot sales are the best places to find old metal tins, but department stores and boutiques sell copies. You can mix the two. No one will know the difference.

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9. kitchen accessories-

a good kitchen utensil requires as much design as the perfect “little black dress” 

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available at John Lewis

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From mixing bowls to chopping boards to knives etc, coloured accessories are at the cutting edge of fashion right now. Instead of hiding in drawers, they make a decorative display. John Lewis has a good selection in zingy colours.

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a picture of your loved ones makes attractive table set (
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Clock by £19.95 


10. the table
Having decorated the walls and shelves, you must now think of the table. A colourful table cloth, or some table sets, a vase of  fresh cut flowers, candles of course, will create the mood. The simplest touches can enhance the most mundane meal.
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Here are some table settings I have done recently which might inspire you.