Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Heart of the Matter. . .12/15/10

If our homes were like parts of a body, the kitchen would undoubtedly be the heart. In most homes, the bulk of activities, be they social or otherwise, happen in the kitchen. We cook, we clean up, we entertain, we do homework, we feed, laugh, learn, and enjoy company in the "heart of our homes" more commonly known as the kitchen.

Today, for some inexplicable reason, amidst a long list of things to do, I randomly came across one of my many design and architecture books - this one in particular focused on designing and decorating the perfect kitchen.

To provide you with a little background, I grew up in a home where we always, without fail or excuse, ate as a family at the dinner table; we constantly had unexpected guests over for meals and because my aunt and cousins lived 7 blocks aways, we also always had them and/or friends over for tea, mate and pastries on any given afternoon. For this reason I have always considered it of utmost importance that when the time comes for us to build our "forever" home we focus on and end up with a kitchen fit to carry on such traditions of entertaining.

Although they are not necessarily how I would build or decorate my own kitchen, each of the kitchens below creates some aspect of my dream kitchen. . .if I could only combine all of them to create that perfect kitchen. . .

I love the open shelving on the side of the island here and the mantle above the stove. I also really love the mint green color of the island combined with the cream cabinetry and the pine colored floors. And unnoticed at first, I think the dark back splash is very interesting and the various cabinet sizes along the sides of the stove give the impression of easy access for any cook.
Speaking of interesting, I am besotted by the uniqueness and combination of the seating at this breakfast table. The half wall, the simple iron chandelier and the upholstery at the table opposite those on the pillows of the bench behind are all absolutely fantastic! It really adds dimension when fabrics in different patterns but like colors are combined. DO try this at home!!
This kitchen is so bright and cheerful it makes me happy just looking at this photograph! What's not to love? From the ceiling to the windows, the incredible stove top to the built in breakfast table via extended island - it's perfect for a family and kids! I especially love the extra storage cabinets on the side of the island. . .who doesn't need that, right? The only thing I would change here is the wall color - that brown is blah. Wouldn't a pale blue or a soft grey look outstanding here?!
I think that I was drawn to this kitchen by the 1) cabinetry color, 2) the open shelving on the island, 3) the bead board on the inside of the shelving and 4) the floors. This feels very cottagey and cozy to me. I look at it and sort of envision it as the focal point of a smaller home and in my head, I can already see a big dog sleeping on the floor while a baby crawls around. . .
At first I thought I would change the lighting, but upon closer examination, this kitchen has so much going on, a different light fixture would only make it feel busier and compete with everything else.
Where is Martha Stewart? The clean sterile white of this kitchen is INCREDIBLE! I love, love, love, the mantle over the stove, the FABULOUS second island in front of the stove, the industrial stools and lighting, the minimal use of color, the BREATHTAKING floors, the great use of storage up top over the sink. Let's face it, you'll never actually store things you use that high up, right? So, why not use it to add a little decor in an otherwise plain and simple kitchen?The blue plates on the mantle, lemons and green topiary add the small pop of color that makes an otherwise cold room feel warm.
As a side bar, for anyone who likes this look, it really only works if kept this way - clean and impeccably uncluttered.
This kitchen is not really "me" but I can appreciate the use of the french country color scheme, the open fireplace and the utility of the island doubling as a breakfast table. What feels off to me are the low ceilings. . .a few feet higher would change the entire room entirely.
I feel like I shouldn't even have to say it again, but I will: I loooove the open shelving on the island! I am also a big fan of the stools for extra seating - they are useful and as a mom, I can admit that if I had the option of using stools in my present kitchen, it would render our breakfast table completely useless. . .seriously, I'd NEVER use it! It is so much easier to just sweep all the crumbs from the counter top into the sink!
This kitchen is very reminiscent of a farm. The island/butcher block is great - I think I'd purposely start sitting piping hot things on it and cutting lots of fruits, veggies, meats etc. on it so as to build up that scratchy worn patina we all pay so much for! Kudos on the brick arch over the stove top. . .feels so cozy to me.
The blue oven here is very interesting and really pops against the cream, yellow and pine woods. I especially like that the doors are not painted the same color as the base board. . .really makes this kitchen feel old world and rustic.
This kitchen is lovely. I think anytime you are decorating while maintaining the same hues in a room, it keeps it from feeling sad and drab when one area stands out. Here that area would be the dark floors. It's a chocolate brown that feels right at home with the cream cabinetry and the greyish blue tone of the island. The chandelier is dainty, and details like the crown molding add elegance. Notice how this kitchen has at least three visible areas for sitting. . .they must like to entertain large groups too. . .
This kitchen is proof that you can have more than one wood color in a room. I think the "old school" way of people's thinking is that you choose one wood stain and every piece of furniture and flooring and cabinetry in your entire home must fall in line. This is not so. Playing with stains and colors (including actual painted wood as well) adds interest, dimension, and depth to a room. It also gives the sensation that you have spent time collecting unique antiques and pieces instead of shopping for your home all at once in the same home store. Don't be boring. Note too that the counter tops on the main part of the kitchen are a different color granite than on the island. Now THAT is playing it anything but safe!
Sure, this isn't a whole kitchen but I enjoyed it so much I felt it had to be included. It is very "Emily" - very monochromatic, clean, classic with a touch of country and the food scale adds just the right antique touch. The drawer configuration however feels like it should be in a closet but we'll let it slide because it's so darn pretty ;) In fact, this kitchen feels like it belongs in a beach condo. . .
Lastly this kitchen makes the cut for it's openness, it's classic styling (the high ceilings and the great light fixture get an A+), and the layout as it moves from kitchen to family room. I think that sort of layout is the ideal for entertainers because the truth is that inevitably whether a party starts in another room or is spread out among them, the party always ends up in the host's kitchen.
Growing up, we initially crowded around the kitchen with my family because we sampled the food being prepared, much to my mother's chagrin, then we stayed there because conversation always grew from there. Moreover, whenever a room feels like it breathes - such as this one - it makes the top grade in my book.


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