Whatever sort of lifestyle you favor, nowadays the kitchen is generally the most frequently used room in the house. For this very reason, it is a room that deserves special care and attention, especially when you decide you want to define your kitchen style
For many people it is most definitely the heart or hub of the home, often with a distinctive style of its own. Of course not everybody adopts a specific style for their home and garden, preferring instead to use the individual design elements they like, in just the way they want to. But if you have adopted a particular style for the rest of your home, it’s wise to make sure your kitchen matches your chosen look. If you haven’t, why not consider a few renovating projects and see just how you can define your own kitchen style? These may involve repainting, decorating or changing the look altogether, by refitting cupboards and cabinets. But think carefully and consider all the options before you start work, or start buying items.
There are many different, well-defined decorative styles to choose from, some traditional and others contemporary. By adopting a definitive style, and borrowing ideas from the way other people have adopted the genre, you will have a good starting point for your new-look kitchen, and indeed your home as a whole. Thereafter you can give the design and style your own personal stamp.
If your house suggests a style, even though your décor doesn’t, that could be another starting point. Look at the physical characteristics, like the floor and the walls. Here’s an example: A high-tech modernistic kitchen will look far better with slick ceramic tiles rather than rustic quarry tiles or stone. But a country cottage with rough walls won’t fit that genre at all.
While it is true that kitchens need surface finishes that are practical, safe and hardwearing, the character and style of the room doesn’t necessarily need to be modern and streamlined. Here’s another example: A farmhouse or cottage kitchen can have safe, practical surfaces while still taking on a lovely rustic look.
Another factor to consider is that the style of your kitchen will be affected by the size and shape of the room itself, as well as the functions it serves. So you need to consider these aspects as well. If there is space for a table where family and friends can congregate, you’ll already be on your way to creating an authentic farmhouse look. But if the room is long and narrow, you’ll probably have to rethink your ideas and perhaps go for something more contemporary or possibly modernistic. If your kitchen is open plan, you will definitely need to ensure that the style of the kitchen matches the rest of house.
Here are a few ideas that might help you to define your kitchen style.
Unlike cottage-style gardens that owe their existence to laboring cottagers living in Britain during the 19th century, the cottage-style interior has no real roots. It is also not a style widely recognized by professional interior designers, probably because it is basically just cheap and cheerful. If you’re into DIY and homemade, have a smaller home, and like the idea of a fresh and romantic look, a cottage-style kitchen may be the way to go.
Remember that cottage-style kitchens are cozy, but they fit into just about any shape or size, provided the furnishings and surfaces are appropriate. Pastel colors are a safe choice for paint and for pretty curtains or blinds. If there’s space in the room for a small table, cover this with a colorful table cloth and pop a small vase of flowers on top. Instead of hiding fresh fruit and vegetables in cupboards or in the refrigerator, display them mixed together in a big wooden or pottery bowl.
You don’t want too much clutter in a cottage kitchen, but a bit of bric-a-brac on shelves is acceptable, as are pretty, old (not necessarily valuable) china plates displayed on the walls. Choose a theme in terms of color and pattern, and enjoy adding to it over time.
Whether inspired by English, French or American country style, this look is timeless, a lot more sophisticated than cottage, and just a little shabby and elegantly faded.
Ideally the country-style kitchen should be large, with flagstones or quarry tiles on the floor. Blue and yellow are favorite colors and they can be introduced in wall tiles or with paint. Windows should ideally be large and curtained with a patterned fabric that fits the style. Kitchen units may be modern, perhaps lime-washed wood, but definitely not cottagey pine or veneered.
You don’t want too much clutter, but a few copper kettles or horse brasses will add some visual value. Fresh flowers will add charm and life, especially if positioned in large glass vases on counter tops or tables.
This style works best in warmer coastal regions that have a similar climate to the Mediterranean. It is also best suited to more spacious homes and those that have open-plan kitchens, because the look is light and airy. There is an emphasis on outdoor living and the feel is simple, comfortable and inviting.
Ceilings may be plain or fitted with reeds. Floors look authentic if tiled with terracotta quarry tiles or even simulated stone tiles. Ideally kitchen windows should be shuttered, otherwise stick to bamboo or some other slatted blinds. Curtains will look out of place.
Colors are plain without being drab, but white-washed walls in the kitchen are ideal, perhaps with a touch of blue or even a dusky Grecian green on window frames.
A central island works well for this style, as do open shelves built with plastered brick and fitted with baskets. While you should avoid too much clutter, fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers all make beautiful natural displays. Even fresh food, ready to eat, can become a decorative accessory.
Similar, in some ways, to the country kitchen, a farmhouse-style kitchen is friendly and informal, and it should have a lived-in atmosphere. Animals and children are welcome here and nobody should get upset by muddy paws and sticky fingers.
This particular style is probably at its most distinctive in the kitchen. Display fresh herbs in pots and hang dried herbs and flowers from wooden beams. A wooden dresser or wall-mounted shelves laden with preserves, pickles and homemade jams, and decorated with pretty china crockery or even stenciled enamel plates, will add to the look.
Ideally there should be a separate pantry jammed with baskets, preserves and all the basic appliances and implements needed by the busy country cook.
Colors should fresh but subtle, not bright like the country kitchen. Make sure there are always bunches of freshly picked (preferably home grown) flowers arranged informally in jugs or vases.
A table, preferably wooden, is an absolute must in any authentic farmhouse kitchen. This is where family and friends will gather to eat meals together, or where children can do their homework. This type of kitchen is always the hub of the home.
If you live in a period home, this is a style you might like to adopt. Look at your existing surfaces. Those of the genre were pressed steel or tongue-in-groove ceilings, wooden strip or mosaic tile floors. Walls may be wood paneled or tiled – remember the Victorians loved tiles, but they are very distinctive in style. You can also wallpaper or even simply paint them.
Clutter is the key to a successful Victorian-style interior, and this can be carried through to the kitchen. Display bric-a-brac and old kitchen gadgets, Chinese vases or ginger jars, and pots with growing herbs or ferns.
Deep reds and greens were popular colors during the mid-Victorian era (which is the period you are trying to mimic). You can also stencil suitable designs below the cornice or at dado height, which will immediately add to the look. You can buy books with Victorian-style stencils that you oil and cut, or simply make your own, copying well publicized designs.
Since there was no electricity in the mid-Victorian era, gas stoves or an old Aga, fuelled with wood, is ideal in this style kitchen.
A high-tech kitchen will be minimalist in style. This is an easy look to achieve, with clean lines and few colors. There should be no clutter and lots of stainless steel.
If you are going to define your kitchen style with a high tech look, your appliances – particularly stove, refrigerator and small items like toaster and kettle – will take centre stage. You can get away with black or white, but generally a metallic steel finish will have the most appeal.
Here you are mimicking the likes of Le Corbusier, the Swiss architect and designer who advocated functional interior design, and who was a leader of the Modern Movement that spread to America in the early 1930s. He believed the house was “a machine” for living in. Certainly the kitchen would fit this idea more than any other room in the house.