Summer 2018
A Dash of Humor By Regina Molaro

Add some spice with these decorative kitchen items that serve up laughs.

For some, the kitchen is a place of pleasure — whipping up creative meals, setting artistic table designs, serving guests, and indulging in delectable meals and desserts. For others, the kitchen is a destination that they yearn to escape — along with the continual task of cooking, serving, and cleaning up.

Many people are eager to add some spice and humor to their kitchens. “Humorous sayings are quite popular on linens. We all need to lighten up our lives and our homes with some humor,” said Laura Angelini of Angelini Designs Interiors in Rhinebeck, New York.

“Adding a little style or humor is easy and inexpensive with the large range of tea towels available. Funny sayings and whimsical designs have become popular,” added Matthew Brown, Head of Media Production, Abbott — a giftware collection. The variety and price point make these great gifts. When customers are enticed by new designs, these items are practical and easy to replace.


Primitives by KathyMany industry experts agreed that kitchen towels and tea towels are just different names for the same kitchen fabric. Kristin Kropp, Director of Marketing, Primitives by Kathy — a gift and home décor wholesaler has a different perspective.

“Traditional kitchen towels, while still possible to be beautifully designed, carry more of a functional purpose. However, tea towels are functional and absorbent, but the design, sentiment, and embroidered details set them apart from traditional utilitarian towels. They are as pretty as they are functional,” explained Kropp.

Haha Moments!

Humor is Primitives by Kathy’s specialty, especially in giftable kitchen accents. The company offers mugs with personality and flair. They were specifically created to live outside of cabinets and are displayed on countertop racks. The mugs can double as kitchen décor.

Mud Pie also offers an extensive collection of kitchen-related items that offer a bit of humor and attitude. Popular messages include holiday-themed decorative towels, and “pun-ny” wine-related and food-related sayings. Beyond textiles, items include serving platters, pitchers, treat dishes, coffee mugs and bar accessories. Suggested retail prices range from $8 to $50.

Ellen Fruchtman, Director of Public Relations at Mud Pie noted that embellished holiday-themed towels continue to grow in importance. “They’re an easy and inexpensive way to transform a kitchen or powder room for seasonal celebrations. They’re also offered at a perfect price point for hostess gifts.”

For Fall 2018, Mud Pie’s newest introductions feature elaborate appliques, dangle legs, sequins, hand-knotted French knots, and/or embroidery. Sentiments and sayings range from sweet to sassy.

Bottle Socks. Primitives by Kathy.

Primitives by Kathy’s new and best-selling Bottle Socks were at the top of many buyers’ wish lists. They offer a perfect way to add personality to a gifted bottle and make a statement on bar carts and buffets. The item comes with a ready-to-use gift tag; the suggested retail is $7.95.

When it comes to the most popular messages, wine wins at Primitives by Kathy. “We’ve added new and original twists on sentiment and coupled them with hand-illustrated original designs,” said Kropp.

The pet category is also a popular choice. One of its customer favorites is a dishtowel that reads, “There’s probably cat hair on this.” Its’ ‘funny because it’s true’ design appeals to animal lovers who are eager to show their love of pets, added Kropp. Tacos and margaritas are also a trending pairing. “Who doesn’t love adding a little fiesta flair?” she asked.

Kropp noted that sentiments that combine wine and pets are another top choice. One of Primitives by Kathy’s new Bottle Socks (created in both cat and dog designs) boasts the message, “You’re not drinking alone if your dog is home.”

Bottle Socks. Primitives by Kathy.

To complement the sassy sentiments, Primitives by Kathy added unexpected details such as glitter that won’t rub off on hands or release in the wash. It also offers new bohemian-inspired textiles that have a playful color palette and are adorned with tassels and pom pom accents.

Wild Hare Designs was founded in 2002 with linen tea towels and expanded to kitchen towels, bar and tea towels, and aprons. Whimsical, humorous sayings add spice. The company also offers a Christmas collection. Suggested retails range from $10 to $12.99.

Style trends

Let’s talk about style. “Beyond the traditional look, trending themes include ones that use bright lively colors, funny slogans, and bold, unique designs,” said Abbott’s Brown. Colors are bright, lively, and less subtle than previous trends.


“In kitchen décor, the thought is to stay neutral—grays, creams, and muted tones—and while we agree this is beautiful for statement towels, we love the incorporation of indigo blue to add some color, but still act like a neutral and complement a variety of kitchen décor,” revealed Kropp at Primitives by Kathy.

“Gray has been trending for a while. Our black and white towel works in most bars and kitchens, but the gray is an upscale look that is perfect for vineyards and upmarket stores,” stated Madeline German, owner and founder of Wild Hare Designs.

As for fabric, Abbott’s Brown said that cotton is dominating the market. “Printing on cotton is easy and effective. It’s also a practical fabric for its intended use, which is important as there’s little room in this segment for ‘decorative only.’” Microfiber seems to be emerging, but is not practical for printed designs due to its texture. At Mud Pie, it’s linen, woven cotton, cotton waffle weave, and canvas.

Displaying some personality

“One of our most appreciated display suggestions is to create bundles for customers,” revealed Primitives by Kathy’s Kropp. Humorous and fun kitchen décor is usually purchased as a gift, so she recommends creating a product story vs. just purchasing one-offs. Pairing a towel with a mug, or a Bottle Sock and towel will make it easy for customers to add-on easily and create a complete gift.

Kropp also suggests using unexpected elements in the merchandising to create a talking point. Retailers can use antique bar carts, stacked crates, antique orchard ladders, or cord and clothespins to hang towels vs. hanging traditionally. “Have fun and change up your look often to get customers talking,” she advised.

When it comes to the Bottle Socks, it’s easy for retailers to create in-store displays. These items come with easy-to-hang packaging. One of the displays that Primitives by Kathy offers holds 12 unique designs.

Mud Pie.

Mud Pie’s Fruchtman said that there’s strength in numbers. She advised retailers to pull towels together in a focal presentation using display hooks, ladders, or rows of towel bars. “Customers may be too intimidated to remove a towel from the display, so stack additional stock in close proximity.  For double exposure, add kitchen towels to themed vignettes,” she concluded.

German at Wild Hare Designs recommended displaying on a ladder or grouping together in order to make a statement. “Retailers always say they know exactly where their customer is by the laughter. Not only do people buy multiples, but they stay in a store longer which translates to more money.”

Primitives by Kathy

Regina Molaro

Regina Molaro is a freelance writer who covers art and design, fashion,beauty, and home décor. She can be reached at

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