Kitchens are as individual as the people who cook, eat and live with them. Whether it is a small, one-wall galley, a warm and cozy eat-in room or an expansive gourmet showplace, there is a huge variety of decorating styles to choose from.
The vintage kitchen
The archetype of the family kitchen, a vintage kitchen is filled with elements from many different historical periods. For example, a brick hearth back suggests the Colonial period, while a mid-20th century kitchen will typically feature a lever-handled refrigerator.
Choosing the right color scheme will go a long way toward evoking the chosen period. Cream, white and light yellow are excellent choices for late 19th or early 20th century kitchens, while more vivid colors, such as oranges, olive greens and turquoise, are popular for 60s or 70s décor.
The modern kitchen
Several color palettes, materials and finishes may be used to create a modern kitchen. Earth tones and natural materials and finishes are a popular result of increased eco-awareness; shades of green, brown, gold and orange are often combined with stained wood and granite or marble. High-tech kitchens frequently use black lacquer finishes and high-sheen metallic, such as stainless steel.
Modern kitchens are all about keeping clutter out of the way, so furniture used in the room must have hidden storage; built-ins and cupboards are ideal. Keep furniture and storage low so as not to impede natural lighting.
The country kitchen, French and Italian-style
A French country kitchen is bright, warm and inviting. Walls and cabinetry are most often white or a light neutral shade. Wooden floors are standard, whether finished planks or more natural rustic boards. The cabinetry and storage areas in a French country kitchen are generally extensive, often filling whole sections of the walls and extending up to the ceiling. A heavy oak dining table and coordinating chairs are a common sight in many a French country kitchen.
Colors in a French country kitchen bring the warmth and sunshine of the countryside indoors; bright soft yellows and shades of gold are commonly seen in the cushions and curtains of the room. Rose, sage-green and cornflower-blue are also used in the décor and accents.
The Italian version of the country kitchen was born in the hills of Tuscany. A Tuscan-themed kitchen features rustic furniture, wrought iron lamps and plenty of natural elements. Grapes, grape leaves and wine are a recurring theme in a Tuscan design, as are the colors of the vines and wines of Italy. Lush greens, burgundy, warm neutrals and terracotta or clay are popular colors used in the décor.
Choosing a practical and appealing design
Every kitchen design has its advantages and disadvantages. Vintage kitchens conjure the feeling and look of a bygone time, but the limitations of the era the kitchen draws from can make the addition of ultra-modern appliances and high-tech extras all but impossible. Modern kitchens provide ample storage and easy clean-up, but may feel cold and a somewhat sterile. Country kitchens provide a great deal of flexibility, as they are not anchored in a specific time period. Whether the look is French, Tuscan or just a general country look, this style offers few disadvantages if designed to suit the individual cook.