Decorate with Crafts

Make the Host of It

The Country Sampler stylists introduce summer fun to a recently renovated kitchen where family and friends gather often.

Patti and Jim Kulpinski's Palatine, Illinois, home never goes more than a week without a gathering, whether it's a full-out bash or a quick lunch for friends who stop by. "We have the spiritual gift of hospitality," Patti says. "Our neighbors call us 'the party house' because we always have cars parked out front. Everybody knows it's easy to drop by or be invited over."

With six bedrooms, a pool and a lake view, the couple's French Colonial hosts overnight guests and casual visitors alike -- all of whom delight in Patti's mix-and-match decor that combines vintage, antique and contemporary furnishings featuring a variety of styles. "The biggest compliment is when someone tells me that our home is lovely but welcoming," she says. "I love that people can see that's what we were going for."

Renovated three years ago, the light, bright kitchen performs the most hosting duties. The cook space now sports off-white cabinetry and counters and soft yellow walls, which, Patti notes, lend themselves beautifully to red and blue accents -- including a commercial-grade, star-studded navy carpet underfoot. To help Patti play up her patriotic palette, Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Catherine Parker and Debbie Plantery offered up plenty of clever ideas for summer decorating and entertaining. Read on for 16 creative ways to work warm-weather flair into your kitchen.

Things Are Seating Up
1. End on a high note. To give her large yet cozy kitchen even more stay-awhile charm, Patti set up a seating area at the end of the island. The stylists helped enhance the wicker chair's summery character by adding a lighthouse pillow that perfectly suits the subtly nautical striped cushion. 2. Make it (fire)work. Tuck some fun accents in with your fresh florals, such as these vibrant metal firecrackers that spark interest in an arrangement of hydrangeas boosted on a footstool.

Fantasy Island
3. Show your true colors. "Patti's light-colored cabinetry and walls are the perfect neutral backdrop for any accent colors, which she could change by season," Sally-Jo notes. For summer, red and blue pieces on the counter, such as the flag tray, the enamelware pitcher and the biscuit tin, make a patriotic statement. 4. Runner away. Continuing the pop-of-color strategy on the island, the stylists crafted a picnic cloth-inspired runner by cutting a red-checked rectangle with pinking shears and then layering on some blue place mats. The runner both coordinates with a festive napkin holder and serves as a fun backdrop for a more neutral cutting board used as a cupcake tray. 5. Sand tall. To outfit any area for a summer get-together, layer red, white and blue sand in clear bowls, nestle in candles and place the accents atop pillar holders. 6. Float your boat. "These lemon-wedge boats would be perfect for when you're serving grilled fish at a dinner party," Catherine says. "Just attach paper triangles to a dowel or skewer with glue." 7. Ruffle some feathers. Dress up an ordinary lamp or chandelier shade by gluing ruffled trim onto the bottom edge.

Open and Shutter
8. Break the pattern. "Part of what makes Patti's home so inviting is her ability to mix different styles seamlessly," Debbie says. Here, calico and plaid fabrics play nicely with toile furnishings in a shared patriotic palette. 9. Lay the groundwork. Spiff up the area underneath your serveware for five-star style on your dining table. Spread out a strip of star-studded fabric, and then use a weathered shutter as a platform for a festive cake or a plate of gourmet strawberries. (These faux versions won't melt in the summer heat!) 10. Shear the joy. "If you're in a hurry or on a budget, buy a pair of pinking shears," Sally-Jo advises. "For a few dollars' worth of fabric, you can make runners and napkins in no time." The stylists also crafted napkin rings by gluing button-dotted starfish onto strips of blue ticking secured with hook-and-loop tape. A glass hurricane nearby hosts coordinating sand and shells as well as a ribbon-tied pillar. 11. Sing the blues. Arranged on dessert pedestals, Patti's cobalt glassware inspired the stylists to dye the flower arrangement water with blue food coloring. "This is best as a short-term trick for parties because it could dye your flowers," Debbie advises. 12. Find an opening. Leave an empty frame in place on the wall year-round, but swap out a graphic garden flag inside for each season.

Sink for a Moment
13. Pile on the style. To enliven the area behind the sink, the stylists constructed a stack of red, white and blue colanders. "Separate the strainers with empty tin cans or wood blocks," Sally-Jo says. "Or, try floral foam if you need a place to secure more decor." Trailing ivy and star picks as well as a sunny yellow tray brought in as a backdrop ensure that the display is bursting with color and character. 14. Boost your mood. Not only does propping up this bird-themed lamp on an overturned basket protect it from splashes, but it also helps fill empty space between the counter and the toile valance above. 15. Keep it bottled up. "Don't toss those colored-glass water and wine bottles," Catherine says. "Buy lamp oil and wicks with rubber stoppers in the candle section of your craft store, and use those supplies to turn your bottles into candles."

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online

Liberty firecrackers and star napkin holder, Home Decor For Your Style
Americana Lighthouse hooked pillow, Williamsburg House, WI

Graniteware oval tray and pitcher, Pat's Again
Mayfaire Biscuits tin, The Hen House Shop
Scalloped-edge cutting board, Randall's Specialties

I Love America flag, Flags for Sail, LLC
Artificial lemon supreme cake and gourmet strawberries, The Fake Food Shop 

Cranberry red toile valance, The Carriage House Designs
Fly Away accent lamp, Home Decor For Your Style
America star on spindle, Klages Kollectibles

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Brian Nightengale
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad, Catherine Parker & Debbie Plantery
Produced by Dennis Morgan