Kitchen Plan: Aesthetic

When it comes to my Pinning habit, my kitchen board probably gets the most action. I’ve been saving inspiration for years. But when it comes to actually designing and building a kitchen, the reality is a little overwhelming. Since almost everything in a kitchen is permanently installed (not to mention, expensive), choosing design elements is a real commitment. All that being said, I do have some idea of the aesthetic I’m after — which corresponds to the guiding principles I have for the house as a whole.

I could close my eyes and point to any kitchen from DeVol or Plain English and say “I’ll take it!” I am sure I have major trend blinders on, but I have convinced myself that this is the ultimate timeless kitchen style. These British kitchens are the perfect balance between rustic and elegant. On the one hand, you can plop down the bounty from your garden on the island and start canning. On the other hand, you can escape from the bustling city streets into your quiet and peaceful townhome. Sounds ideal — I would like my petite manse to straddle that same line.

There is a certain formality and refinement to this this style that I really appreciate. Since our kitchen is open to the living room and dining room, I would like it to blend seamlessly into those spaces, as opposed to feeling like another world. Inevitably, any kitchen has plenty of utilitarian aspects, and I don’t intend to hide them altogether. But I do want to add enough layers found in other parts of the house to make it a natural transition — similar textures, art, and styling. It definitely helps that the same hardwood floors span the whole space.

This kitchen has many of the actual elements that I have planned. I swear I didn’t just copy it. In fact, I was surprised to find one particular kitchen that utilized so many of the same choices I had already made.

  1. soapstone countertops — one of my favorite types of stone, for many reasons. First, I love the velvety (or “soapy”) feel and look of it. Second, it is pretty indestructible when it comes to stains and heat (although it can chip). Third, it seems appropriate for an old home, because it has been a trusty go-to for a very long time. Fun fact: school chemistry lab tables are made of soapstone.
  2. stone slab backsplash behind the stove — I hemmed and hawed over what tile to use for the backsplash. I love the zellige from clé tile, I do. I have Pinned it, obsessed over it, and even ordered samples of it. But as much as I wanted to use it, it didn’t quite feel right for this kitchen, ya know. As I mentioned, I want this kitchen to feel somewhat formal (and tile is just so kitchen-y). I think a matching vertical slab of stone will do the trick and really elevate the kitchen.
  3. stone perimeter countertops and butcher block island — I’m dreaming of a custom end-grain butcher block island. It’s yet to be determined if this will fit in my budget, but I think I can make some sort of wood island top work. It would break up the monotony of the materials a bit and provide a lot of warmth. Plus, I would go with a mineral oil finish, which would make the surface food safe and age with time. You know I love that patina.
  4. hidden hood — the covered or built-in vent hood is such a distinct feature of British kitchens. Again, I feel good about hiding a rather kitchen-y element and making it feel more sophisticated. I like the simplicity of the trimwork on this hood, as well as the little ledge to place small items or art etc. I might make my trimwork look more like the trim around my doors and windows, just to create some cohesiveness.
  5. white and beige color scheme — I have this same combination in the dining room already, with white walls and kinda greige trim. Because it looks so beautiful and somewhat old-timey in this kitchen, I feel very validated in choosing this combo and carrying it over to the kitchen.
  6. painted cabinets — I suppose this one goes without saying, but the cabinets will be painted a color as opposed to wood grain. The color will be close to the greige trimwork, so the overall tonal effect will be similar to this kitchen. The doors will be a combination of shaker and flat styles (big cabinet post to come).
  7. brick accent — one of the “walls” of the kitchen is the exposed brick chimney between the kitchen and dining room. Here, the brick is an old hearth, but it does show how much character that additional texture brings into the design.
  8. bonus round — totally coincidentally, our dining room chairs are the same Marcel Breuer Cesca style as the stools in this kitchen.

The kitchen above really gets to me. A lil bit too country, yes, but it’s just so warm and inviting. It has some of the same architectural elements as our house — brick chimney and wood floors — so that makes this vibe “doable” to me. I also like all the stuff that makes it feel lived in — books on the counter, vase of wild flowers, art leaning on the hood ledge, light fixtures that could belong in any room of the house. This is what I mean by bringing in the layers of life from other rooms into a space that could so easily feel sterile or utilitarian. (Or am I unduly influenced by that pug?)

This kitchen is my reminder to introduce some quirk into the room. That yellow roman shade makes this space for me. It seems like it doesn’t belong in a kitchen at all, which is exactly why I love it so much. (If you look at the rest of this home, you’ll see that same shade in the living room.) So many kitchens look the same, and unfortunately, they kind of have to. It’s a practical space. It brings resale value to your home if you appeal to at least some portion of the mainstream. I accept all of that and want to make good choices. But where I can, I also want to rebel just a little.

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