Kitchen remodels have always been the strangest ones for me. You see, I really love to cook, but cooking is messy, and splattering spaghetti sauce on a kitchen that otherwise looks like it belongs in a magazine doesn’t quite sit right with me. A few years back, a relative of mine did a whole kitchen remodel – Viking appliances, granite counter tops, and beautiful cherry woodwork. It looked so pretty when it was all done that no one wanted to spoil it by using it. That’s why I prefer a slightly more rustic farmhouse or cottage style kitchen – a room that focuses on simple elegance and functionality rather than pomp and circumstance.
The first step to creating a farmhouse style kitchen is purely aesthetic. Matching dark counters with dark cabinets can create a beautiful, regal look in some kitchens, but for a country kitchen you want to opt for light wood or painted white cabinets, as they make for a much more open, inviting space. Matching counter tops are pretty, but a darker surface is much more useful. The darker color will add a nice touch of contrast and won’t show dirt or (more importantly) stain quite so easily. If you have the space for one, a kitchen island like this one from Lyn Design, that matches your cabinet and counter immediately increases your usable surface area, and can really help unify a larger space.
I’m actually a really big fan of kitchen islands. No matter how big or small your kitchen, chances are you’ll always be wishing for just a little more counter space. The big ones, like the one above, can afford a lot of extra storage – which is great if you do a lot of cooking from scratch – but even a smaller one like this Antique Island provide a little bonus workspace, and the woodwork and antique finish can give your kitchen a nice rustic styling.
Overall, you want to opt for light creams to yellows with china blue accents. The lighter your palette, the wider and more open the space will seem, but don’t stray away from natural wood – light or dark – that has a good texture. Unfinished beams and decorative woodwork alike can add a wonderful rustic cottage vibe that will make your kitchen feel warm and inviting – and certainly not too fancy to work in!
Another major feature you want to focus on in a farm style kitchen is the sink. Remember, here, that you really want to opt for maximum utility. A farmhouse sink, like this Rohl Shaws Original, will need to be built custom into your cabinetry (and so is better for a bigger renovation), but elegantly echoes the tub-style sinks of real old-fashioned farmhouses, and can go a long way toward giving your kitchen a homey, period look.
Utility sinks can also have a place in a country style kitchen – while farmhouse sinks are very deep like traditional sinks (and better for hand washing dishes), the wide, open design of a farm sink actually creates still more usable space in the kitchen. Ones with a raised flat surface, like this Kohler Harborview, are easy to work on and easier to clean – great for messy tasks like dough or pasta making, or even dealing with raw meat. They’re called utility sinks for a reason – there’s plenty of room inside to juggle just about any pot, pan, or hunk of meat – hot, wet, cold, or otherwise.
That said, if you DO do a lot of hand washing, utility sinks with raised portions make for great drainboards, but tend to be too wide and shallow to really wash dishes efficiently. Instead, I’d look for at least a double bowl like this Rohl Fireclay Sink, if not a triple bowl sink, which will give you close to the same amount of space, but more efficiently divided to save water – these are better for thawing meats and washing vegetables.
Country style kitchens, at their heart, are inviting rather than intimidating – hearty and useful rather than picture perfect. But one of the most important elements of a homey, welcoming kitchen is light. If you’ve got big windows and tons of the natural stuff, so much the better, but if not, make sure to install several different styles of lights to create welcoming layers of illumination. Stick with simple fixtures, though, especially ones made out of rustic materials like this Kingston Pendant. Expensive chandeliers will seem out of place, but milk-pail style pendant lights and wall sconces make for a great homey touch.
If some kitchen design is excessively elegant, a farm style kitchen is beautiful in its simplicity – maximizing your useful space without ever being intimidating, and making a great cozy space for your friends, family, and all your culinary projects. What draws you to the idea of a country style kitchen? Is it the usefulness, the homeyness, or something else? Let me know in the comments!