Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting cozy in the kitchen.

A custom bench cushion with accent pillows that I recently had made for one of my clients to coordinate with a large but simple valance designed to showcase a dramatically scaled print from
Stark fabrics.

Despite the pouring rain on Saturday, many showed up (in some very cute slickers, I might add!) to take in The Wenham Museum’s 2nd Annual Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour. Nine kitchens were showcased – and of the six that we had time to visit, each was unique and all were quite welcoming in their own way. Some were like walking right into a magazine spread (which I loved), while in others you could tell that these kitchens have been cherished by their love-to-cook owners (which I totally envied).

Here is what I noticed (but wasn’t able to photograph ...)

The floors: lots of medium to dark hardwood on the floors. One that I really adored had beautifully dramatic extra wide planks. So unusual! I love hardwood in the kitchen (a farmhouse feature of my current in-need-of-a-renovation-kitchen that I am a-ok with). Hardwood has a slight give underfoot, which a cook who spends a lot of time in the kitchen can really appreciate.

Unique materials: One home in particular stood out from the rest with its patchwork of earth-colored cork tiles, a center island topped with a genuine slab of pine (smooth and shiny on top, but still sporting its roughly curved edge), sparkly walls (I think there were shells ground up in the plaster?), and large rock finials on the stair banisters. This home, with its nod to nature, felt and looked “real.

In a big room, small cozy spots stand out. Who doesn’t love a secret hideaway? In some of these wide open kitchens, it was the pantry that stole the show. Pantries are my all time favorite ... I can just imagine sneaking away from a party to sip a drink with a friend and talk about the goings on in the quiet comfort of a stylishly decorated butlers pantry.

• Personality counts. I can’t remember how many burners each stove had, or who had the newest kitchen gadget (with the exception of the kitchen with two dishwashers — my dream!), but I do remember the framed photo of
one homeowner with Julia Child, the collection of horseback riding inspired tea cups, the family portraits, and the boldly dramatic choices in lighting, wall coverings and fabrics that gave us a glimpse of the personality of those who lived there.

Flowers make a difference! Some of my favorite spaces included beautiful flower arrangements. Even if your kitchen isn’t on a show house tour, you can give it some designer-love with a pretty vase of flowers. Even better ... make up three small vases with the exact same arrangement and place them side by side on your counter or dining table. People WILL notice, and they are great for taking the attention away from the have-to-live-with-for-now-items that you may not want people to see ... like Harvest Gold appliances, for example (I use a lot of flowers in my kitchen)!

You can actually check out one of the kitchens online by my friend, designer Patricia Finn of Finn-Martens Design. Her sophisticated design is both warm and thoughtfully modern, while still referencing the historical character of the home.

Photo from Finn-Martens Design website

End note: We worked up quite an appetite after touring so many gourmet style kitchens. In one home, we saw a plate of brownies that seemed to be taunting us from under the safety of its glassed dome! We didn't sneak one – this time – but I will remember to bring some snacks for the ride next year.

Maybe this recently renovated home overlooking
Chebacco Lake will be on tour next year?
I will post more pictures of the other
newly designed rooms soon.

In the meantime, if you are seriously considering a re-haul of your current kitchen, check out this great interview with Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa (one of my favorite people that I haven’t met!) by Christine Pittel of House Beautiful. Ina’s philosophy on what makes great kitchen design, and how to entertain at home without stress is a must read before starting any kitchen renovation ...

50 Kitchen Ideas from the Barefoot Contessa

Photo credit: Julian Wass

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