Your Guide to 6 Kitchen Island Styles

By Sam Ferris

There are plenty of reasons to include an island in your kitchen — extra storage, seating and workspace, for example. But there are also several reasons why you might want to choose one island shape and style over another. This guide to six popular kitchen island styles will help you determine which one is right for you.

1. L-Shaped

This type of island can ebb and flow with the shape of your kitchen or fill in the blank space with more storage and prep space.

Pros. L-shaped islands tend to be large with correspondingly generous storage. Their sprawling design ensures that workspace isn’t crowded, a huge perk for households with avid chefs or more than one cook. You won’t have an issue finding room for bar-style seating. If you aren’t a fan of clean lines, L-shaped islands bring some intrigue to the table.

Cons. While L-shaped islands may be larger and provide more prep space, they aren’t exactly open-concept. They can chop up your kitchen design, which can hamper efficiency during meal prep. The shape may be too spread out for some homeowners, and it doesn’t always maximize storage space since corners tend to decrease accessibility.

2. Galley

With fewer frills and a straightforward design, galley islands are built to be workhorses. They can be a good fit for any type of kitchen layout, assuming that there’s enough space for one.

Pros. Often considered the quintessential island design for open-concept kitchens, galley islands ensure that your space has flow and remains efficient with their streamlined design. They usually maximize storage space because there aren’t any corners or curves. Appliances and stored items are always accessible. The design also favors bar-style seating.

Cons. Yes, galley islands are simple and efficient, but some homeowners may think they’re boring. They certainly won’t wow the eye unless they’re larger than life or have an intricate exterior. Sometimes they’re too small to comfortably fit an appliance, which can create problems with your layout.

3. Circular or Curved

If you’re looking to add personality to your kitchen layout, a circular island may be for you. The design can go full circle or feature a half-moon.

Pros. Circular and curved islands add an interesting visual dynamic to kitchens. They’re a go-to option if you don’t want a run-of-the-mill island design. Like L-shaped islands, they’re packed with prep space. There’s more than enough room to operate during meal prep. Circular designs can incorporate expansive seating areas that leave enough room for four-plus guests to comfortably eat and socialize.

Cons. Prep and storage space aren’t always efficient with circular islands. Your counter is spread out and curved, which can limit the way you cook. Storage units can be harder to access in some designs (they may be underneath a countertop overhang, for instance). Plan on wasted storage space unless your cabinets are customized to include creative options.

4. Furniture-Style

An unconventional choice, furniture islands can make your kitchen feel like your home’s premier hangout spot. Wide-ranging options can include a custom piece designed by a local carpenter and an antique table or chest of drawers.

Pros. It doesn’t matter if it’s custom-built, an age-old heirloom or store-bought — a furniture piece adds character to your kitchen. It’s one way to put your personal touch on your space and make it your own. The detail and decorative nature of the furniture will catch the eye of guests. These pieces usually aren’t bulky and fit seamlessly within your kitchen. Open-style designs can create fine displays for your decor.

Cons. Furniture pieces weren’t always built for storage, so that antique you had to have may not hold much of your cookware. There’s also the issue of durability. Older pieces may not last in the hustle and bustle of a modern kitchen. Wear and tear can take their toll. Furniture tops can’t take a beating the way granite or quartz can.

5. U-Shaped

U-shaped islands may be a chef’s dream. Three walls of cabinetry and appliances are enough to increase the efficiency of any kitchen.

Pros. Both highly functional and spacious, U-shaped islands are perhaps the largest and most accommodating. Extra storage space? Check. More workspace? You got it. Room for seating? There’s even that too. They can house more than one appliance if they’re big enough. You may not have to leave your island when you’re prepping food.

Cons. Their sheer size can also be the U-shaped islands’ biggest downfall. Some homeowners may find cooking and cleaning less efficient and may hate going the distance from one side to the other. These islands are bulky and can close off your kitchen from the rest of your home. The double corners will sacrifice accessible storage space unless they feature a Lazy Susan or swing-out device.

6. Rolling

No room for a built-in island? No problem. Rolling islands are a convenient alternative. You can whisk them around as you roam your kitchen and then tuck them neatly aside when you’re finished cooking.

Pros. Rolling islands are the crème de la crème in versatility. A godsend for smaller kitchens that lack adequate prep space, they can function as a worktop, food tray or a spare surface to place your ingredients. Depending on their size, they’re easy to stow and move. Best of all, they’re extremely affordable compared with cabinetry

Cons. Whipping up meals on wheels isn’t for everyone. Rolling islands are compact, which simply won’t work for some homeowners, even ones who are short on space. They can be a hassle to roll out during meals or to store. Bigger designs may be hard to move for some homeowners. They offer little to no storage.

The 5 Layers of a Well-Lit Kitchen

Develop a layered lighting plan to create a functional, adaptable and illuminated kitchen

By: David Warfel

When planning a lighting scheme for a client’s kitchen, I like to think about cake. Let me explain. On my birthday, a red velvet cake always comes my way, and it includes four layers with a cherry and icing on top. Just like that cake, a well-lit kitchen should also have four layers for different lighting needs. I call these light layers: “doing,” “knowing,” “feeling” and “changing.”

“Doing” lights help you perform manual tasks like prepping and cooking in the kitchen. “Knowing” lights help you navigate your way around a kitchen. “Feeling” lights make a kitchen feel inviting and comfortable. “Changing” lights help you adjust to the time of day and set a desired mood. And finally, the cherry and icing on top are all about adding decorative fixtures that let your personal style shine.

Layer 1: Lights for Doing

Your kitchen lighting scheme should start with creating a functional workspace. Adding lights where you need them the most, such as above countertops, sinks and cooktops, will let you perform manual tasks in a bright and safe atmosphere. We need light to see what we’re doing, especially when using sharp knives and high-temperature burners. You want to protect your fingers, so getting this layer right is important. In the kitchen above, note the strong lighting over the cooktop and the pendant lighting above the countertop. LED lights mounted underneath cabinets are also a great way to add functional lighting to your kitchen.

Layer 2: Lights for Knowing

Designers call it “ambient light,” but it is really just a layer of light to help us know where we are and where we are going. Recessed “can” down lights are a great option here because they light up the floor and bounce light off cabinet fronts to create a bright, well-lit space. Adding toe-kick lighting underneath cabinets and islands is also a great way to help prevent stubbing toes at night. Wall sconces are another way to provide the ambient lighting that can help you better navigate your kitchen.

Layer 3: Lights for Feeling

Showcase lights, also known as accent lights, all have one thing in common: They help a space feel more inviting and comfortable. Whether you use illuminated cabinets, chandeliers, sconces or pendants, showcase lights should be visible from wherever you stand or sit in the kitchen. That way you’ll get the benefit of this feel-good lighting at all times. Showcase lights might also help you perform functional tasks in the kitchen, but their main purpose is to draw attention and make a room feel complete.

Layer 4: Lights for Changing

As the sun changes location in the sky, lighting needs inside the kitchen change as well. During the day, natural light from windows might be all the lighting your kitchen requires. But at night, you’ll want your kitchen brighter for cooking meals and more dramatic for entertaining guests. Adding dimmers to your kitchen lighting is key for setting the mood.

Keep in mind that our eyes require more light as we age. So if you expect to stay in your home for awhile, you might want to add more lights than necessary now so you’ll have them later.

Cherry on Top: Decorative Light Fixtures

The fun part is choosing decorative fixtures that look at home in your kitchen, like this barn-style sconce in a country cottage. Think carefully about your personal style and kitchen design and then determine whether the light fixtures you choose can add any of the other layers of light needed.

Not keen on decorative fixtures? Choosing to minimize visible fixtures is also a valid style choice ideal for streamlined modern designs. You may want to highlight something else, like the backsplash in this kitchen lit by concealed LED strips.

8 Elements of Classic Kitchen Style

By: Rebekah Zaveloff

Many people are at a loss when it comes to defining their style. Some people know what they like but are afraid of getting the terms wrong, or they’re afraid of being pigeon-holed into one style when they feel like they’re in between a few different ones. The truth is, most spaces have elements of different styles and aren’t all one way. 

To sort all this out, join me on a tour of kitchen styles and sub-styles, from Classic to Modern, Industrial to Cottage, and lots in between. Today we’ll start with the most approachable of styles, classic style. 


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Classic kitchens are timeless and flexible. This comes with other givens, such as neutral color palettes and simple, unfussy details. Sure, a classic kitchen can be deemed too safe for the individualist and too ornate for the purist, but for me it’s like jeans and a white t-shirt: add a beaded necklace and heels or tennis shoes and black blazer and you can make the look your own. (And so can the next homeowner if you’re concerned about resale value.) 

1. White or cream cabinetry. Classic kitchens are timeless yet fresh. This is a style that almost everyone feels comfortable in, even some the modernists among us. White kitchens define this style.

2. Simple architectural details. You may see legs on islands, feet or furniture-style toekicks, crown molding and even a paneled hood, but these details are often restrained in a classic kitchen rather than being over the top and ornate.

3. Honed black countertops. Classic kitchens often go the timeless route with blacks or whites, whether it’s honed absolute black granite, soapstone, or cast quartz material.


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4. White marble countertops.Cararra marble and Calacatta marble are the two that really stand out in classic kitchens. In fact, marble countertops are often the focal point of a classic kitchen. Even though many homeowners know there are maintenance issues with marble, they can’t resist its beauty. 

5. White subway tile. It really doesn’t matter what size, though the classic is 3×6. It can be glossy, crackle, beveled or square edged, handmade or machine made, or even in white marble. If you’re looking for a twist on the classic, try a 2×6 or 2×8 or 2×4 — the proportions can really change the look of your kitchen, as can the grout color. 

6. Simple door styles, not too modern, not too ornate. Another aspect that defines this look is the cabinet door style — often either a simple shaker door or a shaker door with a bead moulding. You don’t see a lot of raised panel doors (of the sort often found in traditional kitchens) or flat-panel doors typically seen in modern kitchens.


7. Neutral palettes: Classic kitchens don’t have to be all white. This kitchen mixes stained and painted cabinetry, and even though the “white” cabinets have a glaze, the simple door style (shaker with a bead moulding) keeps it from going too traditional. The subway tile here has a bit more color than the classic white that’s so popular, but it’s still a classic.


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Black and white is about as timeless and classic as it gets. This kitchen with the shaker doors goes a bit more contemporary with the black island and dark subway tile with white grout, but its bones are still grounded in the classics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative palettes like brown and white or black and white also find their way into classic kitchen design. Here, walnut cabinets, white marble and classic door style have all the elements of a classic kitchen.


8. Flexibility: What I love about classic kitchens is that they’re chameleons: You can take the same kitchen and completely change its look by mixing in modern bar stools or lighting … or industrial bar stools and lighting … or traditional — you get the idea. Classic can become eclectic by adding modern tile and mixing it with a vintage-style table and chairs and industrial-style pendant lights.


Classic can go more traditional when mixing it with an ornate hood, traditional chandelierand turned island legs.


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Classic white shaker doors can go more modern by adding a modern light fixture and terrific Saarinen table to the mix. This kitchen even has a bit of farmhouse modern because of the ceiling, but it’s still classic.


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Sometimes it’s the architecture alone that influences a classic kitchen in one direction or another. Here, classic goes country-modern with exposed beams and voluminous space. As you can see, classic-style kitchens are limited only by your imagination — or the imagination of thousands of designers. 

New This Week: 4 Ways to Punch Up a White Kitchen

Article by: Mitchell Parker

These days the words “white kitchen” seem redundant. When nearly half of homeowners out there are choosing white cabinets for their kitchens (49 percent, according to a 2014 Houzz survey on kitchen trends), you know we’re experiencing a full-on white-kitchen craze. But restrict yourself to too much white and you run the risk of creating a space that looks downright sterile. And nobody wants to be reminded of a hospital cafeteria. 

Here, four designers share how they punched up mostly white kitchens with special features that brought color, personality and contrast.

1. Statement Tile

Designer: Renee Urbanowicz of Melton Design Build
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Size: 180 square feet (16½ square meters); about 15 feet by 12 feet (4.5 by 3.6 meters)
Year built: 1975

Special feature: Handmade 8-by-8-inch Italian tiles. The homeowners wanted to add life to their kitchen in a fun way while maintaining a contemporary feel. A photo of a similar island seen in a magazine from Mexico inspired this idea. In each set, only four tiles have the same pattern. To mix things up even more, designer Renee Urbanowicz placed them in a random pattern. 

Homeowners’ request: A contemporary, well-thought-out, easy-to-clean, family-focused space with durable surfaces. 

Plan of attack: This kitchen was part of a remodel project for a 1970s-built house. The designers and homeowners first chose the slab cabinet door style without detailing. They then selected the white color for the kitchen, followed by the main countertop, the custom island countertop and the appliances. The colored tile on the island was one of the last elements selected.

Why the design works: The original space felt closed off and dark. Urbanowicz removed walls and soffits, refinished the popcorn ceiling and added better lighting, a walk-in pantry and the focal-point island. Keeping the cabinets along the perimeter of the room allowed for increased functionality and storage. Keeping the appliances in about the same location as in the previous kitchen reduced the need for extensive rewiring and plumbing work.

Who uses it: A couple and their three children. 

Designer secret: “The key to designing a great kitchen is ensuring that your plans are both functional and beautiful,” Urbanowicz says. “In this space, we specifically focused on a balance between maximizing the storage and keeping things open to the dining, living and exterior areas. Using the same type of cabinetry throughout the home ensured there was continuity and enhanced the contemporary feel of the entire home.”

Splurges and savings: The homeowners saved on the tile and cabinet hardware so they could splurge on a thicker, custom countertop for the island.

Take-away: “Limiting the number of colors used in the finished palette for a space really helps preserve a timeless feel,” Urbanowicz says. “The white base allows for easy changes to be made throughout the years to come.”

The nitty-gritty: Cabinets: Full Access, Omega Cabinetry; countertop: lattice quartz, Pental Granite & Marble; sink: Whitehaven, Kohler; tile: Varese, Design Materials; faucet: Trinsic, Delta

Team:Studio Q Photography

2. Bold Bookshelf

Designer: Chris Greenawalt of Bunker Workshop
Location: South End neighborhood of Boston
Year built: 1900

Special feature: A tall black bookshelf. “The client was really into the idea of having a minimal white kitchen look,” designer Chris Greenawalt says. “I felt that the space would be elevated if we added an element that was in complete contrast to everything else in the room.” Its color isn’t the only thing setting it apart. While the white cabinets are smooth, the medium-density fiberboard and thermofoil black cabinets and bookshelf have a bit of texture to them. 

Homeowners’ request: The previous layout was not working functionally and was choking an already tight space. The homeowners wanted the basics: a better flow, a place to store their kitchen items and a place for their books. 

Plan of attack: Greenawalt first asked the homeowners what wasn’t working for them. “I find that people tend to better express themselves when describing what they’re missing, not necessarily what they want,” he says. “I think this leads to a more personally tailored design instead of some generic kitchen as seen onReal Housewives.” 

The homeowners felt the standard off-the-shelf cabinets and finishes had to go. Greenawalt started with a hardworking island. It serves as a cleaning and prep area, houses most of the appliances and functions as a dining table. The island also improved flow by allowing for two passageways through the space instead of the bottleneck layout that had existed. 

What goes on here: This space acts as the kitchen, dining room, bar and library. 

Who uses it: Sheng Lin, a pharmacist and real estate agent, and Aaron Angotti, who works in financial services

Designer secret: “I’m proud of the way the bookcase looks and functions in the space,” Greenawalt says. “I really enjoy the minimalist aesthetic, but the look can quickly become boring if you don’t introduce some texture into the design.” 

The nitty-gritty: Faucet: Blanco 441197; refrigerator: 24-inch built-in, Liebherr; cooktop: four-burner gas, Miele KM360GSS; oven: 24-inch electric, Miele DGC6700XL; dishwasher: 18-inch with panel, Miele G4580SCVI; microwave: GE JEM3072SHSS; countertops: Corian in Glacier White with 3-inch drop edge; cabinetry: custom, Camio; rolling ladder: Richelieu

Team: Michel Beaudry (builder); Camio Custom Cabinetry; Matt Delphenich (photographer)

3. Standout Island

Designer: Sydney Bond of Effect Home Builders
Location: Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Size: About 250 square feet (23 square meters)
Year built: 2014

Special features: A reclaimed-beechwood countertop on a blue-base island. Black granite on the perimeter countertops provides additional contrast. Soft gray-blue paint above the sink complements the island and continues on the walls throughout most of the main floor. “Blues are used a lot throughout the home,” designer Sydney Bond says. “A prairie-sky palette is familiar and comforting to Albertans.” 

Homeowners’ request: Spacious, with lots of windows. The homeowners also preserve fruits and vegetables from their garden and bake and cook every day, so the kitchen needed to be functional for that and have ample storage. 

Plan of attack: The hand-scraped walnut floors came first, followed by the white cabinets. From there came the countertops, then a subtle subway tile backsplash that wouldn’t take away from the main feature: the reclaimed-wood countertop on the island. The lighting and paint colors came last. Customized storage includes a recycling center, cookbook shelves and glass-front cabinets for displaying accessories. “There is an interesting mixture of some very traditional elements, like the apron sink and deck faucet, and then very modern elements, like the induction cooktop that blends in with the black granite,” Bond says. 

Who uses it: A husband and wife, both of whom are doctors, and their son and daughter, whom they home-school. Designer secret: Using charcoal-colored grout with white subway tile. “This small design element makes a world of difference,” Bond says. The grout helps transition the white cabinets to the stark black countertops. It was also a practical decision. “White grout is beautiful, but you will drive yourself crazy trying to keep it white,” Bond says.

“Uh-oh” moment: “When cabinets were made and installed but were not made to accommodate the apron sink the homeowners purchased,” Bond says. “Somehow this was not communicated to the cabinetmaker. A cast iron apron sink weighs a ton, and needs to be considered when designing the cabinets. Luckily, we were able to find an apron sink with a smaller apron and a bit smaller width, and the cabinetmaker made adjustments onsite to make it fit.”

Splurges and savings: By saving on the simple porcelain subway tile, the homeowners were able to splurge on the reclaimed-wood slab on the island. 

Take-away: “Elegance can be found in sometimes the most understated areas,” Bond says. “The kitchen is meant to be functional, but it turned out being one of the most beautiful rooms in the home. All it took was a couple of feature elements in a simple white kitchen to make a standout space.”

The nitty-gritty: Backsplash and flooring: Builder’s Floor Centre; cabinetry: Pioneer Cabinets; countertop: granite: Granite Worx; lights, faucets and pot filler: BA Robinson; reclaimed-wood island top: Flo Form; appliances: Miele; wall paint: Zephyr, Cloverdale; island base paint: Iron Mountain, Benjamin Moore; cabinet paint: Simply White, Benjamin Moore; wall coverings: National Drapery

Team: Fuse Architecture + DesignPioneer CabinetsMerle Prosofsky (photographer)

4. Material Mix — Reclaimed Wood, Copper and Iron

Designers: Michael and Betty Terry of Graystone Custom Builders 
Location: Newport Beach, California
Size: About 335 square feet (31 square meters)
Year built: 2015

Special features: Exposed reclaimed-wood rafters. A range hood handcrafted out of treated copper and trimmed in painted white millwork. Chicken wire on the upper row of cabinets. A darker paint color on the base of the island that grounds the white marble countertop. Slipcovered chairs that complement the seaside color scheme found elsewhere in the home. 

Granite perimeter countertops have the look of soapstone without the maintenance, and play beautifully with the Michelangelo Calacatta marble island countertop. The rustic white painted brick backsplash contrasts the cabinet details — dentil molding and beading — and bell jar light fixtures. Iron doors open to an outdoor patio.

Homeowners’ request: A rustic-meets-refined kitchen with a coastal theme. “This is the heartbeat of the home, right in the center,” designer Betty Terry says. 

Who uses it: An empty-nest couple who likes to entertain. 

“Uh-oh” moment: Where to end the brick backsplash. The designers eventually decided to continue the brick around the corner and into the hall. 

Splurges and savings: The homeowners liked the look of soapstone for the perimeter countertops but were able to save half the cost by going with granite. They splurged on the reclaimed-wood beams, details on the custom cabinetry and copper hood. The iron doors were the biggest splurge. 

The nitty-gritty: Island countertops: Michelangelo Calacatta marble, Venetian Tile & Stone Gallery; bell jar light fixtures: Hampton pendants, Hudson Valley; sink: Barclay 36-inch single-bowl farm sink, Pirch; faucet and fittings: Waterstone Annapolis collection, Pirch; range: 48-inch dual-fuel range, Thermador; dishwasher: panel-ready, Thermador; wine fridge: 24-inch stainless steel, Miele; refrigerator: 30-inch stainless steel, Miele; freezer drawer: 30-inch panel-ready, Sub-Zero; ice maker: Perlick; bifold iron doors: Euroline Steel Windows & Doors; slipcovered stools and window covering: Blackband Design

10 Ideas to Make Your Outdoor Kitchen Sizzle

Article by: Laura Gaskill

Looking to spice up your grilling area this summer? Try adding one (or more) of these fun features, from grill-side seating to a vintage fridge. As long as the weather is fine, you may find yourself cooking outside more than in!

Pull up to the kitchen bar. Keep guests entertained with bar seats pulled up to the grill, where they can taste hot-off-the-fire nibbles. On its own, this is a great small-space solution; in a more expansive yard, supplement the grill-side seats with a larger dining table.

Get the cooking area under cover. A roof over the outdoor cooking area makes it easier for the grill master to keep grilling even when an unexpected rainstorm pops up. The L-shaped counter space with seating and adjacent dining area and fire pit make this a backyard guests will never want to leave.

Add a full-size fridge. If you cook outdoors a lot, a fridge and freezer can be a big help. Keep them stocked with ice, chilled drinks and the food you plan to grill, and that will free up space in your regular fridge. Of course, not just any fridge will do — a retro style in a cheerful color, like the Smeg shown here, will add to the style of your outdoor space.

Coordinate with color. Grills, decks and outdoor seating tend to be neutral and no-frills, so use a few pops of bold color to wake up your outdoor kitchen. Bright poppy red was used here in artwork, dishes, a chair and a sleek trash can.

Pack in useful details. It’s the little things that can make all the difference in your outdoor kitchen experience, so consider what would benefit you the most — better lighting, prep space, music? This Toronto rooftop kitchen includes a mini fridge, dish storage, speakers for an electronic device and night lighting.

Get cooking in the garden. Highlight your love of ultra-local ingredients with an outdoor kitchen located near your veggie garden. A brick surround that matches the low garden wall helps integrate the kitchen into the larger outdoor space.

Go modern. Concrete and rich wood are a modern minimalist pairing perfect for an urban environment. This outdoor kitchen is outfitted with a pizza oven — a worthy splurge if you love doing a weekly pizza night at home!

Double up on grills and storage. If you’re serious about barbecue, it could be worth your while to invest in two grills: one gas (for quick cooking) and one charcoal (for traditional smoky barbecue). A stainless steel gas grill and a “big green egg” perfect for slow cooking are connected by cabinetry in this Red Hook, Brooklyn, backyard. A sink and plenty of counter space make prepping food easy, and hidden storage below means you can keep outdoor cookware and tools close at hand.

Put a pergola over the grill. A garden structure like a pergola adds architectural interest to the outdoor kitchen and provides a place to attach sconce lighting. And while you wouldn’t want climbing plants dangling directly over the grill (hello fire hazard!), if your pergola is a safe distance from the heat, you could grow plants over it, giving the area a lush green touch.

Bring your indoor style out. The small-scale but well-crafted cabinetry in this outdoor kitchen echoes the interior style. Locating the grill within steps of the kitchen door makes it easy to carry ingredients outside and hot plates of food in, and a built-in bench seat provides a spot for guests to sit and chat while the food is being prepared.

How to Plan a Quintessentially English Country Kitchen

Article by: Lara Sargent

The super modern, stripped-back kitchen might look beautiful in the brochures — and if you’re disciplined enough to keep an all-white room spick-and-span, it can look fabulous in real life too. But if you crave something a little kinder to the chaos of daily life, you probably already have a soft spot for the quintessentially English country kitchen.

The relaxed livability of the painted cupboards, wooden countertops and stone slabs so familiar to this style exudes an irresistible warmth and charm, but there’s room for gentle updates, too. 

So harness the rustic look and make it work for the 21st-century home with these 10 country kitchen must-haves.

1. Big ceramic sink. A staple ingredient for every English country kitchen is a big, beautiful ceramic sink. Be it a Belfast, butler or farmhouse, these robust, practical workhorses are perfect for washing sizable pots, pans and trays, as well as scrubbing your veggies.

The large, double-bowl design in this clean-lined kitchen demonstrates how this classic fixture can look fresh and up-to-date in a more modern rustic setting.

2. Freestanding furniture. Who can resist the charms of this delightful and inviting space, with its mishmash of freestanding furniture, quirky industrial lighting and rows of gleaming copper pots and pans (stalwarts of the country style)?

Add the slouchy leather armchair, and this is where you’ll find me all day long — whether whipping up a light lunch or sitting back with a good book.

3. Paneled walls. There’s a simple beauty to tongue and groove boardsPerhaps it’s because this classic cladding style conjures up a whimsical, bygone era when life was lived at a gentler pace. 

Whatever its appeal, tongue and groove paneling makes for the easiest-on-the-eye wall treatment in a classic country kitchen and, when paired with a pegged shelf painted to blend in, transforms into a practical feature to boot.

4. Island style. This great hunk of an island unit is the star player in this country kitchen, which, you might not be surprised to learn, belongs to a professional cook. It has all the ingredients of a kitchen that’s ready for whipping up a culinary masterpiece, from the custom unit crafted of solid English oak that’s a table, workstation and storage unit to the beautiful beast of a copper range cooker and velvety-smooth Italian black basalt surfaces. This is a marriage of kitchen eye candy and function at its very best.

5. Heritage appliance. It is perhaps the classic Aga range cooker that epitomizes the quintessential English country kitchen so succinctly.

This British-made heritage appliance has armies of fans but has moved with the times, too, and these days comes in a vast lineup of enameled shades to suit all kitchens — from glossy black and cream to pretty rose, pistachio and lemon. There are also compact models, electric versions and even Agas that can be controlled by an app, so you get the perfect blend of modern technology and traditional cooking techniques rolled into one great-looking appliance.

6. Weathered finishes. I’ll never get bored of weathered materials and rustic finishes in the kitchen, which is lucky, as both are staples of the classic country look. 

The patina of a well-worn wooden table has an irresistible mix of character and beauty that simply gets better with age and regular use (and let’s face it, we can’t say that about many things in life). 

Seek out old scrubbed oak tables and a mix-and-match array of chairs (painted, distressed, bare or even metal), and dive into salvage yards for vintage floorboards, stone tiles and old sinks and fixtures for a look that has all the flair and personality of a country space.

7. Shaker style. A simple Shaker-style kitchen is a thing of beauty and should stand the test of time. This relaxed and refined style is perfect for the country kitchen, particularly when the cabinets are painted in a palette of chalky vintage hues (from dove gray to oatmeal and buttermilk) and finished with pewter knobs or handles. 

Beautiful, handcrafted versions of Shaker cabinets have a robust, in-frame construction, meaning the door is set within a frame. Or seek out purse-friendlier, ready-made alternatives that have a Shaker-style door attached directly to the cabinet box.

8. Mix and match. There is something incredibly charming about the unfitted kitchen. Historically, country kitchens were made up of separate pieces of furniture, such as a washstand, linen press, chunky range cooker and pantry cupboard. 

Putting together a complete kitchen of freestanding pieces can be tricky and generally needs a big space. But you can still create the same custom, laid-back ambiance by punctuating a built-in design with a stand-alone hutch painted in a contrasting color.

9. Open and closed storage. You’ll never find everything hidden behind closed doors in a country kitchen so, for someone like me — not the world’s tidiest person — mixing cupboards with open shelving is the ideal compromise. 

Of course, we all need ample cupboard space for storing food and equipment, but equally, the country kitchen loves to show and display its wares, be they rows of shiny pans, stacks of pure white crockery or vases ready to be filled with flowers from the garden.

10. Stone floor. A textural feast of weathered stone pavers is the finishing touch to the rustic-look kitchen. Because the cupboards are pale and neutral, the designer of this kitchen could afford to go all-out on a patchwork of bronze, sea green and charcoal stone tiles for a statement floor with durability and design clout in one. 

For an added touch of luxury, install underfloor heating so your tootsies are warm all year round.

How to Bring the Beauty of Reclaimed Wood to the Bath

Article by: Becky Harris

Reclaimed wood has never been more popular, making its way from basement bars all the way up to elegant master bathrooms. Used on flooring, vanities, accent walls, mirror frames and even tub surrounds, this material adds warmth and rich texture. It’s also a wonderful contrast to the usual bathroom materials, such as glass, granite, marble and tile, which can leave a space feeling cold. “Reclaimed wood can be a once-in-a-lifetime gift,” says Nathan Daves, of Restoring TexasBut using it in a room full of potential splashes and steam takes some extra consideration. “At the end of the day, water is the evil kryptonite for wood,” Daves says. 

Daves also warns that not all reclaimed wood is created equal. A broken-up pallet will not withstand moisture at all like old-growth pine lumber harvested from a pre-1940s barn, for example. Other good choices for moisture resistance are reclaimed teak and old-growth cypress. Whichever wood you use and wherever you decide to use it, check out this list of ideas and advice to see if reclaimed wood will suit your bathroom.

1. Talk to your contractor about the realities of protecting the wood. No matter whether you treat the wood or not, protecting it from direct contact with water is a good idea. “If water is allowed to sit on the wood, it will eventually find its way in,” says Daves, who recommends sealing reclaimed wood used in a bathroom with an oil-based polyurethane. “Anything that coats the wood will eventually be infiltrated and begin breaking down, but woods with high rot resistance will last longer,” he says.

Using wood as an accent wall where it won’t be splashed by water is smart. Here, a high backsplash protects it from direct contact with water.

2. Realize that the material will swell and contract. In this Hollywood actor’s bungalow, salvaged wood mixed with crisp white and vintage accents give the room a modern eclectic look. The designer, Laura Schwartz-Muller, even had a simple matching tub shelf crafted to match. 

Schwartz-Muller understood the importance of treating the reclaimed wood as “a living, breathing thing,” as she describes it, one that will grow and contract. Thus, she used flexible silicone caulking and left a ⅛-inch gap between the sides of the tub and the walls, and beneath the tub top. She sealed the wood with three coats of fully cured polyurethane to protect it from moisture. 


3. Use reclaimed wood for contrast. It’s a wonderful way to add warmth to a modern bathroom. The rough-hewn quality of these reclaimed white oak timbers makes them standouts in this otherwise clean-lined space. 

There is extra maintenance involved, so you have to decide if the look is worth it to you. When these owners opted not to add a glass top to the counter, they were aware that they would need to do a little light sanding and add a new satin-finish polyurethane coat on their countertop every few years. 

Tip: The designers at Burns and Beyerl Architects recommend using reclaimed wood as a countertop in adult bathrooms as opposed to those for kids, as kids are less likely to mop up any splashes and little puddles they might make when using the sink. 

4. Add a different countertop atop a reclaimed wood base. If you’re turned off by the extra maintenance required by a wood counter, this is a good alternative. In this elegant bath, an open vanity base constructed from old barn wood adds a striking material to the textural palette. The designers at Beinfield Architecture treated it with a clear wood sealer. 

Using a fan when you’re steaming up the bathroom is another way to help keep moisture away from your reclaimed wood.

5. Add more than one reclaimed wood accent. Here the vanity counter and mirror create three long horizontal lines of dark rustic reclaimed wood. 

In fact, reclaimed wood is an element these homeowners used throughout their farmhouse, and it ties the rooms to one another. 

6. Consider teak. Teak is one of the most rot-resistant wood species out there, which is why these teak boards surrounding the tub originally were used on the deck of the USS North Carolina battleship. The coloring and knots make the bathtub a focal point in the room.

7. Highlight your home’s history by harvesting wood during the demolition phase and upcycling it in the renovations. In this New Orleans bathroom, interior designer Nomita Joshi-Gupta of Spruce used bargeboards that were original to the house. These bargeboards are at home with water; they are lumber recycled from cargo barges that floated goods down the Mississippi River and were then broken up upon arrival. It was a common construction material in Creole architecture historically. “When we gutted the house, we found bargeboard, and we decided to reuse it in many portions of the house,” she says.

The design team took the best pieces and installed them like paneling, then sealed it with polyurethane. “It is a beautiful texture, and it was nice to reuse and reclaim the home’s own history,” Joshi-Gupta says.

It’s only fitting that this piece of cedar in this floating house in Seattle serves as a unique shower bench, because it was part of an old log float. As it had floated on the water for many years before, the client decided sealing it wasn’t necessary. 

When remodeling his 1902 foursquare home, architect Geoff Prentiss ripped out plaster and preserved the 113-year-old fir lath beneath it. “The lath, usually between 24 and 48 inches in length, was stained in part, which I liked, but also had lots of tiny nails and bunches of sand in it, which was not so good,” Prentiss says. He pulled out the nails, shook the pieces and then very lightly sanded the rough-sawn surface. After installing it on the walls, he used a clear sealer. “There has been no issue in the wood absorbing water, even as the backsplash of the sink,” he says.

8. Create something artful. This beautiful wall is a patchwork of reclaimed wood pieces made by local Sandpoint, Idaho, artist Rob Payne.

9. Combine reclaimed wood with soapstone countertops. The combination of the sanded-down white paint on the reclaimed-wood base and the veins in the countertop tie the two pieces of this vanity together in a unique way. A long trough sink and a frameless mirror create a clean look.

10. Pair reclaimed wood with unlacquered brass fixtures and hardware. The way the material patinates works well with the rustic look of reclaimed wood. 

On this vanity, Studio Marler used recycled wood for the doors and drawer fronts. Surprisingly modern storage solutions hide behind the vintage-looking facade.

11. Use reclaimed wood in a powder room. If the thought of steam from the shower, splashes from daily face washing and toothbrushing, or keeping up a wood countertop has put you off, consider using it in the powder room. 

In this contemporary barn-like home, the main floor’s powder room has a unique reclaimed-wood and Plexiglas surround that glows like a lantern. The architects specified that the Plexiglas be sanded to give it a frosted look. 

Smart Ways to Make the Most of a Compact Kitchen

Article by: Joanna Simmons

We might all dream of a huge family kitchen, but most of us have to make do with something smaller. That said, whatever the size of our kitchen, the demands we place on it tend to be the same. We want it to function well for preparing and cooking meals. We might also like to be able to sit and eat in there, even if just perched at a breakfast bar. And we need space for a lot of different objects, from chunky appliances to silverware, dishes and food. The good news is, with some clever planning and great design, it is possible to have all these functions in one tiny space, as these inspiring spaces demonstrate.

Use every nook and cranny. It sounds obvious, but where space is tight, it’s essential to make use of all of it. This might mean commissioning custom units. Shelves or cupboards designed for your space, rather than bought off the shelf, can exploit even the most awkward corners or weirdly angled rooflines. Luckily, since the number of units you will be able to fit is limited by the small size of the room, a custom design often will be reasonably economical, too.

Enjoy a little rack n’ rail. Wall cupboards can eat into the space in a very small kitchen, but you can still make any wall work for you by adding racks, rails and slim shelves. These can hold things like saucepans, strung up on S hooks, mugs and pots holding cutlery, and even utensils. Covering the wall in blackboard paint helps it to multitask even more, as a place where you could write shopping lists and messages.

Make it streamlined. Chunky and mismatched pieces would eat into the space and make a tiny kitchen feel cluttered. Instead, opt for units with a minimalist look and, as here, a countertop that flows over all the base units and even extends to become a breakfast bar. The minimalist metal legs seen here keep sight lines open. This kitchen is flooded with natural light, so the color on the unit doors invigorates the space without encroaching on it.

Find another home for laundry appliances. It’s not uncommon to find washing machines and dryers installed in the kitchen, but, when space is limited, it’s a good idea to find an alternative home for them. A nook under some stairs can be a good place. Or consider putting a dryer — and perhaps a freezer — in the garage, if you have one.

Choose clever details. There are heaps of clever space-saving elements that can be built into a new kitchen, so if you’re starting from scratch, look for things like slim spice jar storage, knife drawers,toe-kick drawers and integrated chopping boards that can be slid over a sink or pulled out from the wall.

Try freestanding pieces. Freestanding furniture has its benefits in a small kitchen too. If you take the view that where room is tight, it’s important to make every item you place in it shine, then suddenly there is a logic to not building everything in. A freestanding piece containing an oven, sink and cupboards, like this one, looks like a beautiful piece of furniture that fits elegantly into the space.

Raise the ceiling. Rethinking the dimensions of the room and having some architectural work done can make a huge difference to a small kitchen. If yours is in a single-story space, raising the ceiling to expose a sloping roofline would add a huge sense of light and airiness. It also would offer the opportunity to install skylights, which pull in more light than vertical windows. Plus it would create a tall wall against which you can fit cupboards or shelves for maximum storage.

Build up to the ceiling. Floor space may be limited, but vertical space is often the same in a tiny kitchen as in a huge one. So make the most of it by building units that stretch right up to the ceiling — or just nearly. A small gap above tall cabinets can offer just enough breathing room to help keep the room from feeling cramped. Keep infrequently used items on the upper shelves and try using sleek handle-less doors, so the units look streamlined and seamless and don’t dominate the room.

Integrate appliances. You may yearn for a huge, freestanding range complete with five burners, but a small-scale kitchen is not the place to install one. Instead, integrate your appliances for a more streamlined look and a space-savvy solution. Building the microwave into a cupboard will free up countertop space, and why not go for a boiling-water tap to dispense with the need for a kettle?

Work in a portable mini island. In addition to built-in units, a small, movable butcher’s block with shelves, like this one, can prove incredibly useful. It would take up very little room while supplying additional storage and prep space. It would also create the relaxed, freestanding look you may have been craving but thought you couldn’t pull off in a small kitchen.

Open vs. Closed Kitchens — Which Style Works Best for You?

Article by: Vanessa Brunner

For centuries the kitchen was strictly a workspace. Often tucked in the back of the house, it had room for just the bare essentials. But a peek at many new kitchens today reveals a very different approach: the open-concept kitchen at the heart of the home. 

“The kitchen was really a closed-off spot for a long time,” says John Petrie, president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “Now people want the kitchen to be an active part of the family home.” Although open-concept kitchens are by far the more popular choice today, some homeowners are embracing elements of the past — namely a separate, more closed-off layout. Could we be shifting back to the kitchens of yesteryear? 

We asked three kitchen experts for their thoughts on the two kitchen styles, and how you can decide which one is right for you.

How the Walls Came Down

Twenty years ago the term “cocooning” arose in the home design world. Home life shifted as people spent more time at home. “Home was a safe place, a refuge and where you wanted to be,” says Petrie.

The desire for a cocoon fueled the open-concept kitchen, allowing homeowners to spend more time with family and friends while cooking and cleaning. “It also showcased a shift to a more casual lifestyle,” says Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group. “People weren’t afraid to expose reality — i.e., a messy kitchen.” 

“When the walls came down, the kitchen became an integral part of the home,” says Petrie. Kitchens soon became the center of the house — the room that everything else revolved around. 

Today this layout has become the go-to kitchen style, particularly for families. The combined layout allows for optimum multitasking — parents can prepare dinner, watch the news and help with homework at the same time. “I’m a huge open-concept-kitchen fan,” says Anthony Carrino of Brunelleschi Construction. “I find that the benefits far outweigh those of throwing the kitchen into another room. Ninety-nine percent of our clients ask for an open-concept kitchen.”

The Case for a Closed Kitchen

The kitchen is already the most expensive room in the house to remodel, and turning a closed kitchen into an open plan can add to the cost. Tearing down walls means dealing with plumbing, electrical and structural work on a huge scale. Sometimes the added expense means compromising in other areas. 

For homeowners who’d rather invest in other parts of their kitchen — appliances, materials or cabinetry — reworking the layout may not be worth it. “You have to think about what’s best for you,” says Petrie. When it comes to allocating your kitchen budget, which is more important, he asks, “an efficient, functional kitchen with better appliances? Or an open layout that connects to the rest of your home?”

While most of Dixon’s clients ask for open-concept kitchens, some prefer a closed-off space. “There will always be some people who are uncomfortable with letting guests see their ‘unmentionables,'” she says. “It’s definitely a more formal layout, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.” 

If you want to leave your smells and mess behind when serving meals, a closed layout could be for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can get creative with a closed kitchen, too,” says Carrino. If space allows, a small booth, fold-down table or rolling bar can make a closed kitchen more of a social space.

Cons of a Closed Layout

Of course, a closed-off kitchen’s isolation also can be its main downfall. This layout doesn’t allow for direct access from the kitchen to the dining table, or vice versa. And it’s difficult to interact with friends and family while whipping up meals, since most of the room is reserved for the work triangle.

Choosing What’s Right for You

There’s no set formula that can tell you which kitchen layout will work better in your home. Part of having a conversation with a designer is trying to figure out what’s best for you. Start with a list of needs and wants, and go from there. “You’ve got to consider the way you live in your home and the way you use your home,” says Carrino. “How do you use your kitchen? How do you foresee using your new kitchen?” 

Everyone’s needs are different, so don’t let yourself sway with trends. “A family with kids that need supervision might decide to do an open-concept plan with a large multifunctional island,” says Dixon. “But a couple who loves to entertain might opt for a closed-concept space so they can prep courses ahead of time and not spoil the surprise. It totally depends on your lifestyle.” 

Get More From Your Kitchen Island

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Many kitchen islands open directly into another room. If you don’t require seating on that other side of your island, it’s a great opportunity to make the island serve purposes other than cooking and eating. When planning for an island, consider how it can be used to your advantage, whether it’s incorporating additional display space, extra storage or even strategically separating — or connecting — other spaces. Here’s how you can make your island work harder for you.

Get More Display and Storage

These open shelves wrap around the island to create display space on two sides. This makes for a much more eye-catching addition in an open floor plan. Can you imagine staring at solid planes of material here? Meanwhile, a small countertop at the opposite end still accommodates some island seating. 

Although this island also has shelves below, the real eye catcher is the ceiling-hung shelves, which create a bright, casual cookware display. What a visual feast for diners! 

Where seating is not required, think about incorporating bookshelves along the length of your island — perfect for all those cookbooks. 

Full-height cabinets block kitchen messes, provide storage and hold a TV here. 

Get a Divider or Transition

A simple, narrow dividing wall, which seemingly arises from the island, partially hides the cooking area and creates a stunning art wall. Notice how the sculpture niche is finished to match the cabinetry, creating the transition from kitchen to the living-dining area. 

This island does double duty with a working kitchen side and a buffet dining side, but it doesn’t stop there: The beautifully detailed end wall hides any mess and creates a lovely focal point. 

In this very open space, the island ends in a fabulous display area that looks like furniture. This concept blurs the line between cooking and living areas. 

Want to hide your dirty dishes but still converse with the guests? Use meticulously detailed cabinetry as a horizontal backdrop to your dining area — much more interesting than drywall. A narrow continuation of the countertop even serves as a buffet space. 

In the same space seen from the kitchen side, small cabinets actually form the top of the dining “wall” and provide storage — bonus! 

Get Table Seating

In this kitchen a working island is paired with a built-in banquette, making an attractive, handy spot for dining. This would work equally well with a rectangular island. 

Ease a Level Change

Many homes have a step or two from the kitchen to a living area, typically with a railing of some sort. Why not create a casual dining area as a buffer between the two instead, utilizing some great cabinetry?