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Kitchen Decor Ideas for Cabinets and Shelves

By Rachel
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Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Rachel Granholm

Come see these charming kitchen decor ideas for cabinets and shelves!

Sometimes, there are areas in our homes that are harder to decorate than others. A space in my house that I have struggled with for many years is the tops of my kitchen cabinets.

Our house was built in the early 80’s and has many strange quirks to it, like how the builders just couldn’t seem to raise the kitchen cabinet height by 3 feet to mesh with the ceiling!

So, I’ve spent the past few years figuring out how to decorate my kitchen in an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive way. Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned in these kitchen decor ideas for cabinets and shelves!

The Heart of the Home

I don’t know about you but the kitchen is the most used room in our home. We cook all of our meals from scratch as well as bread and other tasty treats.

Our kitchen is a work horse and needs to be super functional. However, I still want it to look pretty and styled with pieces that I’ve collected over the years.

It’s taken me many, many months to find a balance between too much decor and not enough functionality and vice versa. Come see how you can easily decorate your kitchen with vintage and secondhand decor items to create a cozy and welcoming space!

a kitchen displayed with vintage copper and other thrifted finds

Where to Find Kitchen Decor

Kitchen decor can be found for super affordable prices at garage sales, estate sales and yard sales. My favorite place to find home decor, whether it be for the kitchen or not, is from thrift stores. Obviously all of my pieces are vintage but you can find a plethora of non-vintage decor, as well.

Secondhand stores have plenty of variety to choose from and will also yield the best prices. I’ve come across many kitchen decor items for under $5.00 including decorative tins, baskets and vases.

a kitchen decorated with vintage copper

My best advice is to check your local thrift store often for decor that catches your eye. After awhile, you will begin to notice a theme within the pieces that you are picking up. From there, you can continue to look for those items to help build a curated collection!

Kitchen Decor Ideas for Cabinets and Shelves

The tips below will hopefully give you a starting point for how to decorate your kitchen in a cohesive way. I have found that, by incorporating many of these accents, it helps develop a kitchen that is rich in character.

1. Have an Overall Theme.

For years, my kitchen decor was just a mish-mash of random items that I put together to try and create a pleasing display.

It wasn’t until I started collecting vintage copper teapots when that all started to change. I realized that, to have a united feeling kitchen, an overall theme was necessary.

This isn’t to say that every single thing needs to be the same. For example, I use my vintage copper collection as the overarching theme but then pepper in coordinating vintage items such as enamelware, old tins and milk glass.

vintage copper canisters on top of kitchen cabinets

Whatever you love to collect or look at on a daily basis would be a good starting point for kitchen decor.

Examples could include:

Whether you collect copper like me or something different, let your kitchen decor to be an expression of you and the things that bring you joy. The kitchen is the heart of the home as they say so let your heart speak through the pieces you choose to display!

vintage copper teapot collection with porcelain handles above kitchen cabinets

2. Vary Heights.

When decorating above kitchen cabinetry, it’s helpful to vary the heights of the items you are using. This variation allows for more dimension and movement among the decor.

You can also add layers by having a larger scale item in the background and then place coordinating, shorter pieces in front of it.

vintage decor in a kitchen

The best advice I have for this idea is to simply move things around. I do this all. the. time. 

If something doesn’t look pleasing to my eyes, I get on my ladder and move the thing to a different area of the cabinet top. I add and take away items sometimes once a week. Don’t be afraid to change your mind!

vintage copper and other decor styled in a kitchen

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3. Incorporate Textures.

My favorite textures to use when decorating my kitchen are flowers and greenery. It doesn’t matter if they are real or faux; those simple textural elements brings the kitchen to life.

I feel that, without greenery mixed in with the decor, my kitchen displays just fall flat. It’s so fun to change up the greenery and florals for the seasons, as well!

For this time of the Summer season, I am using darker faux greenery stems mixed in with white mums.

Other textures you could use can include:

  • fabric
  • a garland
  • vintage textiles such as burlap
  • ribbon

faux greenery and white flowers displayed in vintage copper

I stuck greens and flowers into a few copper pieces along the longest wall of my kitchen to help break up the hard surfaces and bring in movement. This method also allows your eyes to flow seamlessly from place to place.

The use of floral stems ushers in a soft feeling and creates a connectedness among the many pieces of decor.

a vintage kitchen vignette

4. Choose an Accent Color.

Another thing that I have utilized in my kitchen decor is having an accent color. I have found that, by bringing in snippets of one specific color and pairing it with the main theme, it makes for an incredibly charming aesthetic.

For example, in my kitchen, I utilize green accents alongside my vintage copper. For me, it’s a timeless look and makes me so happy! I always say do what makes you happy 🙂

a vintage green enamel pendant light over a kitchen sink

I’ve incorporated green hues in many ways including a green vintage scale and a vintage enamel pendant light over the sink.

A few subtle green accents are seen on the handle of a vintage wooden masher and the graphic of a vintage glass milk bottle.

a vintage green kitchen scale displayed on the top of kitchen cabinets

I should also mention here that all of these finds have been curated over time. Don’t expect your kitchen decor to be found and finished in a weekend because that’s not realistic.

It’s taken years for the decor and aesthetic of my kitchen to feel good and pleasing to me. A home takes time and patience because it’s a work of art.

Give yourself grace as you slowly create a space that you love.

vintage copper displayed on a kitchen cabinet top

5. Include Wood Elements.

Wood is extremely grounding. If you think about it, nature would be so bare and lifeless without wood!

I’ve learned that, any time a space in my home feels too stark or not balanced, I don’t have enough wooden elements in place.

In my kitchen, since I have so many hard and shiny details from the copper, adding wood accents is essential. The wood tones down the brightness and brings in a cozy, peaceful ambiance.

a thrifted wooden cubby shelf in a kitchen

Wood features can take on many forms, giving you the opportunity to arrange them in various ways.

Ideas can include:

wooden corbels in a kitchen window

Wooden accents also pair beautifully with any type of decor, be it mid-century, farmhouse, cottage, etc…

Because of it’s natural and zen-like appearance, you can easily blend wooden pieces into whatever kind of kitchen decor you choose to use. It’s a super easy and effective way to balance and ground a kitchen space!

a kitchen corner with vintage and thrifted decor finds

6. Utilize Small Accessories.

My last tip for today is to add small accessories to help fill in any gaps or bare areas.

Little creamers, sugar dishes, butter pats and the like are all pretty and functional decor items to help round out your kitchen.

vintage kitchen decor in a cubby shelf

Bring some life to a bare cabinet side by adding some hooks for displaying a few pretty things.

I brought a few pieces of my copper collection down to this part of the kitchen. The bowl is merely decorative but the colander I actually use on a daily basis for rinsing fruit. Kitchen decor can be pretty and functional!

a vintage copper bowl and copper colander in a kitchen

This antique German salt box was found years ago at an antique store for only $8! I use it to hold a vase of greenery or flowers and, in the winter, I propagate plants in it!

It doubles as a lovely decor item and a useful hanging planter!

a blue and white antique salt box with a plant inside

Another fun accessory that is both extremely useful as well as decorative is a spice rack. Each person likes to use and store their spices in different ways and that’s totally cool.

But, this vintage wood spice rack, which I found at an antique mall in Florida on our last visit, is such a lovely thing to have sitting out on the counter. We use it multiple times a day!

a vintage spice rack with glass jars

You truly can have the best of both worlds by incorporating kitchen decor items that are functional and pretty to look at! Be patient and the right items will come to you in time.

Closing Tidbits

My sincere hope is that these kitchen decor ideas for cabinets and shelves inspires you in your own home. The kitchen is a place to gather, chat, laugh, sometimes cry and cook.

It’s the space that welcomes us home after being away and reassures us, with home-cooked meals, that everything is going to be okay. Be encouraged to style your kitchen, the heart of the home, with special pieces that spark joy each time you look at them.

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Leave me a comment! How do you decorate your kitchen? I love hearing from you!

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vintage decor styled on the tops of kitchen cabinets

If you are new here, I’m Rachel, the writer and content creator here at The Antiqued Journey. I’m so happy to have you! I encourage you to stop by the ‘about me’ page to get to know me a little more. Here on the blog, you will find loads of inspiration for decorating with vintage and antique decor, simple DIY crafts and many thrifting adventures.

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Other Decorating Posts to Enjoy

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How to Thrift for Vintage Books

a shelf displayed with vintage decor for fall
7 Textures for Fall Decorating

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Rachel from The Antiqued Journey blog

Hey! I’m Rachel!

I’m so glad you are here! Old things are my jam. Antique malls and thrift stores are my happy places.

Here on the blog I love to share my excitement, knowledge, and ideas about all things antique, vintage, and thrifted. Let’s journey together!

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