The kitchen is the pivotal gathering place in most homes. We start the day with nourishment and meaningful conversation in the kitchen….and we reconnect at the end of a busy day in the kitchen, too. Kitchens have become much larger spaces, opening into the family room for entertainment value. But unfortunately, we’ve lost the natural kitchen designs we fondly recall from our grandmother’s homes.
In our efforts to streamline the preparation of meals and create more efficiency in the kitchen has led to the creation of more clinical, cold spaces. This is largely due to the surfaces. These days stainless steel, marble and tile are the dominant materials. White, gray and neutral tones have become the color palette.
To bring more warmth back into your design, you must learn to think of your kitchen in a more holistic context.
How do you do this? Try to remember the things you loved the most about your grandmother’s kitchen. Your emotional connection to those warm kitchens of your past will provide clues to your personal style, as well as opportunities to bring some unexpected architectural elements and color back into a stark kitchen.
To begin your journey to a more natural kitchen design, consider these elements:
Set the Tone.
Begin with a new color palette!
The simplest way to set a dramatic new tone is with paint and fabric. Bring in warm earth tones like gold, terra cotta, sage, copper and bronze. Be cautious of certain shades of red, warmer is better, so the tone should be more toward the yellow/orange range.
And don’t be afraid of dark tones…. like deep aubergine and indigo grays. You can add contrast with your furnishings, artwork and accessories.
Choose Dazzling Surfaces.
If you have the budget, copper or ceramic sinks can add some character and a strong element of design to the space. Keep the metals the same. If you start with copper, keep it everywhere: light fixtures, faucets, curtain rods and drawer pulls.
If you are adding a backsplash, consider pulling in bold design elements and accent colors with your tiles. If you go the antique route, use recovered tile or even pressed tin (sealed for safety). If you are stuck with white subway tile everywhere, get creative with hanging accents that pull in color.
Wood Flooring & Cabinetry.
Warm, wood-toned flooring is one of the easiest ways to warm up a kitchen. It adds a blanket of honey-hued color to a room, and also creates an organic feel.
If you already have a lovely neutral-toned tile floor, consider changing up your wood cabinetry instead.
There are a lot of white cabinets around today. Mixing things up a little adds character to your kitchen. If you already have white cabinets, consider keeping the white on the bottom cabinets, and painting the top in a softly contrasting hue.
Remember that dark floors and counter surfaces recede, so if you decide to play with color up top on the walls and cabinets, reserve the darker shades for the lower elements to ground your design and help showcase softer color narratives.
Don’t be afraid to “go natural” with your accessories. Using cork, sisal and coir carpets can warm up tile flooring. They can also be stenciled to create a more personal element of design and coordinate with your fabric choices.
Simple window treatments with subtle patterns and textures can add tremendous visual interest to your kitchen. They also represent a great opportunity to experiment! If you’re not sure about using a bolder color palette, window treatments are the perfect place to try out different combinations to see if they work in your kitchen.
Living green entities are the perfect focal points in a kitchen setting! Culinary herbs in terra cotta pots set right at your fingertips will help you execute that extraordinary meal. They also add fragrance and brightness.
By adding live elements to your kitchen, you create an ecosystem. Plants find a natural alchemy in any aesthetic. They draw you in. If you entertain frequently, plants can function as co-hosts. Fresh flowers create mood and fragrance, while culinary plants can be used to tantalize your guests about the coming meal.
Highlight Your Personality.
Most importantly, when creating a natural kitchen design, don’t forget to make your kitchen your own.
Your personality should always infuse your kitchen space. If you have a beautiful six-burner, gas chef’s range and a boring white tile back splash, why not create a piece of tiled artwork in its place? Hire a tile painter to create a unique, one-of-a-kind vista or place a leaning European cast iron fireback against the tile for a rustic effect.
Kitchens are also a great place to show off your collections. If you have open cabinets, use them to showcase your prized collections. If you are struggling with ways to infuse color, consider removing a section of top cabinet doors to create open shelving, or add glass paned doors. Paint the backdrop and let your beautiful dishes tell a color story. If you love architectural elements, use them in their natural state, don’t be concerned about painting everything to match.
Tip: Remember environments from your past that created natural warmth and emotional wellbeing, and pull those elements into your kitchen design. Make it personal. Design should always tell your personal story. This is what makes a house a home: a kitchen to remember!
Questions about your kitchen design project? GNH Lumber’s kitchen design team can help you choose the perfect cabinet to complete your kitchen style. Stop in to our showroom today to browse cabinetry to match any style or budget!