Inspiring your kids to get involved in the kitchen can be just the right recipe for empowering them at home and developing their own style

I hope all you dads had a great Father’s Day last Sunday and were treated like kings of your castle! In our home, Nicki put together an amazing breakfast for Darrell, which is what inspired this week’s column.

I’ve talked about giving your kids input in designing and decorating their own bedrooms, to help empower them in their space. That also could be the case in your kitchen. If you inspire your kids from a young age, they’ll be inspired to want to add style to their surroundings when they grow up.


Giving kids a sense of participation in the kitchen extends to different aspects, including cooking, plating and decor. For example, You’ll find plenty of stepstools that are ready-made for the kitchen, allowing young kids to belly up to the counter. Just be sure you place the stepstools far enough from the cooktop so your keiki don’t get hurt.

There are so many different choices of style and materials.

Somehow mine always seem to match the color of my cabinetry (I’m sure that comes as no surprise to you!). And don’t stop at stepstools — give kids a sense of place in the kitchen by stocking their own aprons, chef hats and tools of the trade.

Kids’ artwork is perfect for warming up kitchens with a lot of cool stainless steel appliances or white surfaces. The refrigerator is a natural place for their masterpieces, but it can get messy. Try framing the ones you like best and hanging them on empty wall spaces or drywall back splashes.

Don’t overlook the corkboards that help keep track of your kids’ daily activities, memos and recipes. Look for ones whose frames tie in with your decor. Do you need frames made of stainless steel? Dark wood? Burlap for a casual feel?


And finally, when it comes to art, if you don’t have it, why not make it? Making art out of photos of your kids, or even their names, will make them feel special in the kitchen, whether you’re cooking for them or they’re learning to cook for you.

I’ve mentioned this in a past column, but when I needed to brighten up a backsplash for a client, I created art that spelled out the word ‘YUM.’ Each letter incorporated one of the three kids’ names.

So that breakfast that Nicki made for Darrell? The scones came from Diamond Head Market, but Nicki fried an egg in a heart-shaped egg mold and then made heart-shaped cutouts of fresh apples. What do I always say about layering and repeating your decor elements? I see the beginnings of a design sense here!

The kitchen is a great place to inspire your kids in so many ways. By being creative and giving them the tools and a sense of belonging and empowerment, you’ll be amazed at what they come up with.


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit