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Choosing Decorative Accessories for Kitchens and Bathrooms

Some of us live in homes, condos, or even apartments that we own.  Some of us live in homes, condos, or apartments that we rent from others.  I have done both.  Each has distinct advantages.  Only the person who needs the place to live can make the decision…rent or own, and the final decision will be as unique as the decision maker.

If you own it, you are free to make changes to your living space…tear out a wall, hang wallpaper, put in a dishwasher, and of course, pay for the changes.  If you rent, you are likely to be limited to hanging pictures…no painting or papering walls.  I am currently a renter…and I accept that there are “decorating dreams” that won’t come true.  So for now, I focus on maximizing the impact of decorative accessories.

I have placed or hung decorative “things” in living spaces for many years…this includes kitchens and bathrooms.  Sometimes kitchens and bathrooms can be more challenging…you know, little things like hot burners and lots of humidity!  One thing that kitchens and bathrooms have in common is running water.

In the last house that I lived in, I hung antique “silverware” in a horizontal pattern using tiny nails to hold the knives and forks in place above the stove.  The grouping created an interesting architectural feel to an otherwise awkward, empty space.  Sorry…it never occurred to me 8 years ago to photograph the grouping, but the pictured pieces were part of the composition.


In my current apartment kitchen, I have chosen to hang a series of three green “majolica” type plates in the space between the stove and the microwave above the stove.  The appliances in the kitchen are all stainless, with black trim.  I really like the idea of having cooking utensils close…but I especially like them to be decorative in addition to being useful.  The combination of “all stainless” utensils in a green ceramic vase reinforces both the green plates and the stainless appliances.  Reinforcing elements (such as color or texture) brings more impact to the area.


Also displayed in the kitchen is a serving tray with wicker edges. The interior of the basket is wood with a laminated picture of French waiters carrying trays of champagne bottles and glasses.  The black background in the tray reinforces the black stove top, yielding even more impact.  The impact “factor” gives the eye a soothing place to focus.


Moving on to the other “humidity prone” room…the bathroom!  Hot showers create steamy bathrooms, which one would think could create havoc for things like a clock or framed butterflies.  However, I have a clock (IKEA) that has hung in steamy bathrooms for over 10 years and is still working like a trooper.

I have tried to create a garden-type feel in my bathroom.  There is a yellow garden trug that holds some essentials, but also holds a trowel, a pair of tiny soap Wellington garden boots, and a small frame with real butterflies.  There are two other larger frames that hold several butterflies.  One of the frames with butterflies has also survived 10 years of humid bathroom conditions!  All of the butterfly art is 40 years old!


My experience with decorative accessories in humidity prone areas has actually been a positive one.  While I may have put irreplaceable butterfly art at risk, I am really not so sure that higher humidity isn’t good for them.  Maybe Antiques Roadshow will be in my area sometime, and I can learn more about my 40 year old framed butterflies and the effects of humidity.

I hope my shared experiences with precious items in kitchens and bathrooms are helpful and help you make decorating decisions that only you can make.

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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