Kitchen Style & Decorating Ideas Tips

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What is an Arts and Crafts kitchen?

The Arts and Crafts Kitchen

When someone speaks of an Arts and Crafts kitchen, they aren't referring to needlepoint or weaving baskets. Like Shaker and traditional kitchens, this style is a from another era. The roots of the Arts and Crafts movement are found at the turn of the 20th century. This style became popular, in part, as a reaction to the overly ornate Victorian styles also popular at the time.

Like the Shaker movement, the Arts and Crafts style is based on simplicity and living in harmony within the house. Other terms sometimes used to describe this decor are Mission and Prairie. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright is known for a similar approach to design. The more authentic approach to this style features dark oak cabinets, but most updated Arts and Crafts kitchens feature lighter oak or maple cabinetry and hammered copper accents.

These kitchens also feature a lot of wood and plain windows that may or may not be covered. Natural fabrics, such as linen and muslin, are good choices in an Arts and Crafts kitchen as are pottery pieces in natural brown, blue, green and orange hues. Wallpaper in stylized floral or geometric motifs work well in these kitchens as do Native American rugs and Mission tables and other furniture pieces. If you can't find authentic accessories, many manufacturers are now making adequate reproductions.

How do I design a Shaker kitchen?

The Shaker Kitchen

Let's say you like a minimalist look in the kitchen but you are turned off by contemporary or modern styles. Or maybe you do have contemporary rooms in your home but want the kitchen to be both different and complementary. The beautiful elements of a Shaker kitchen may be a good solution in either case.

The Shaker philosophy, which is still practiced today, evolved out of a 19th century religious movement based on a sense of humility. The Shakers believe that utility is key. Therefore the style of a Shaker kitchen won't focus on fancy elements, old world drama or scrolling on cabinets. Instead the cabinet style features plain panels and tapered legs. Cabinet faces and hardware are simple and the colors used are natural, such as olive green, lighter blues and pale yellows.

If you want to create a true Shaker kitchen, paint the walls white and use simple decor pieces such as plain white bowls, glass vases and wooden Shaker boxes. Fixtures should be chrome or -- ideally -- brushed pewter. Shakers did not use typical varnishes on wood. Instead they would apply dyes or oils to enhance natural beauty. The floors in a Shaker kitchen are simple hardwood, the windows covered with plain shutters and panel-style curtains. Unless you are a purist at heart, you can adjust this simple style as you like. But remember, the essence of the Shaker philosophy is sticking to just what you need and enjoying the natural look of wood and natural elements.

Are white cabinets hard to clean?

The White Kitchen

When choosing colors for a kitchen, most people are less likely to consider white. Won't it get dirty? Won't it be boring? What kind of color is white for a kitchen? If you tend to like contemporary styling, choosing white as your backdrop kitchen color may not be as boring as you think.

There are actually a variety of shades within the white color 'family.' Some designers create interest in a room by using a couple of shades in the same color. As for cleaning, newer cabinet designs are made of materials that allow for easy wipe up. White laminate cabinetry is quite popular and offers a dramatic appearance, especially when combined with chrome hardware. Here are a few other benefits of choosing white for a kitchen:

  • It helps brighten a room, especially if you have a covered porch blocking some of your outside light.
  • It presents a clean, calm and airy environment.
  • It allows you to change your accent colors whenever you desire.
  • It offers a neutral backdrop, which is attractive if you decide to sell your home.
  • White shows off well-chosen decor.
Even though white is often associated with contemporary styles, you can choose white cabinets for a French Country house and even if you have more traditional tastes. The accessories and decor items you add to a white backdrop can be of any styling and personal preference.

Can I use contemporary styling in my kitchen?

Contemporary Kitchen Style Offers Simplicity

While Victorian and traditional stylings have long been preferred by many designers and home buyers, newer contemporary ideas are making headway into the array of kitchen decorating ideas.

Contemporary styles aren't exactly new as designers often draw on the Modernism of the 1930s and 1950s when looking for inspiration. All in all, contemporary stylings for the kitchen and other parts of the home have been slow to catch on and have been primarily an urban phenomenon. But more and more homeowners are turning to contemporary kitchen style ideas.

Contemporary styling has at its core a pared-down, minimalist appearance. Some experts believe that contemporary kitchen decorating ideas are more popular now because -- with lifestyles so busy -- many seek as calm an environment as possible while enjoying their home. With newer cabinet and storage designs, it's easier to achieve this uncluttered look in the kitchen. Appliances can be stored in appliance garages, spices have their own space and supplies for cleaning up are out of sight but easy to reach.

Even though contemporary styling is often associated with lots of black and white, you can still introduce color into your kitchen if you choose. You might also find interesting ways to introduce steel and stone into your kitchen, another feature of contemporary styling.

How do I design a traditional kitchen?

The Traditional Kitchen

If you like furniture filled with detail, fancy crown molding and rooms featuring ornate embellishments, you might be a traditionalist. Many of today's cabinet makers offer innovative, durable cabinets that still give you the chance to recreate the look of more than a hundred years ago. Traditional kitchen styles are a throw-back to the elements of English and American 18th and early-19th century designs.

Examples include fluted panels, archways, scrolled accenting and ornate leaf patterns that make guests feel they have stepped into another time and place. Most often, traditional kitchens utilize mahogany, cherry or white/off-white cabinetry. They may be accented with elegant, marble counter tops and polished brass hardware. Color choices that are popular in traditional kitchens include Wedgwood blue and other deep jewel tones. French doors and windows are usually dressed with formal curtains and swags.

You should explore the varieties of traditional cabinetry, combined with differing counter tops, flooring and finishes to determine the best traditional kitchen for you. Unless you have a lot of natural light, a white traditional kitchen may be best as darker cabinets work better with more natural light sources. You might furnish your eat-in area with Queen Anne-style table and chairs or add an antique hutch to complete your traditional kitchen.

Will all types of wallpaper work in a kitchen setting?

Pick the Right Wallpaper and Fabric for Your Kitchen

No matter how much you like a certain wallpaper, putting it in your new kitchen may be a mistake. The same is true of fabric. If you use any type of paint, wallpaper or fabric that doesn't clean easily, everyday wear and tear may ruin your investment.

Even if you are meticulous at cleaning, steam, dust, grime and grease can accumulate in a kitchen. Moisture can trap mold, mildew and germs. Newer wallpaper, wallpaper glues and fabrics are designed to withstand the heat of a kitchen, and some come with a product called "mildewcide." Make sure as you design your kitchen that you build in enough ventilation to prevent as much potential damage to your decor as you can.

Before choosing wallpaper, paint or fabric, take a close look at adjoining rooms. Your kitchen decor patterns should not clash with any rooms in sight. If there are differing patterns, match the color. Or pick a color that runs through all the rooms and pulls them all together. Busy and bold prints make a large room seem more comfortable.

Most people combine patterned wallpaper with more traditional kitchen decor and cabinetry. Light colors make a room look bigger; dark ones bring the walls in toward the middle. By choosing wallpaper in a kitchen that matches a tablecloth or chair coverings in the eat-in area, you can create better design flow in both areas.

How do I create a rustic look in my kitchen?

The Rustic Kitchen

No matter how high-tech we get, we still need nature to ground us. That's why many new kitchens are designed with a rustic and sometimes even weathered appearance. But why would anyone want to decorate with beat-up timber, uneven tiles and brick, and walls made to look like cracked plaster?

For some reason, combining these features with natural textiles like cotton, wool or silk has the ability to offer us comfort. For many years, rustic kitchens have been associated with homes in the country. But that's not the case anymore. If you are an urban or suburban dweller and you love a rustic look, you can choose that design theme for your new kitchen. In this type of kitchen, you can look to food itself as a decoration.

Choose a big wooden bowl for tomatoes on your island. Find glass jars for storing pasta, beans and rice. Find baskets to hold utensils, potatoes and onions. Since big, bulky-looking tables and islands are popular in rustic kitchens, your cabinets should be of the same design; otherwise they might get lost from a decor standpoint. Distressed finishes on cabinetry work great in rustic kitchens. Many modern companies sell such cabinets that are designed to look worn. Finding other decorative items for a rustic kitchen can be a lot of fun; try garage sales and thrift stores to hunt for older, metal bowls, pitchers and utensils but be careful to use these items only for decoration. Some of the best color choices for rustic kitchens are green, brown, orange-red and tan.

How do I choose a color scheme for my kitchen?

Choosing Color for your Kitchen

If you are remodeling your kitchen, it's likely you are bored with its current color scheme. But how do you choose a new one that will work? There's no rule that says you have to choose your color first or your cabinets first. If you aren't sure about color, you can focus in other areas while you decide.

Some colors will work better with some cabinetry finishes and wood choices. If you choose cherry or mahogany cabinetry, a dark red or brown color might create an uninviting space. If you choose lighter, maple cabinets, too bold a color -- like a cobalt blue -- will likely overpower them.

Some color schemes in the kitchen work with a certain style. For example, French Country cabinetry is often paired with greens, yellows and oranges. If you decide to mix two or three colors, be careful, especially with painting walls. If you mix colors that are not of the same palette, it could clash. You can find out about color palettes from a kitchen designer or a paint expert. If you are simply unsure of what color scheme to choose for your new kitchen, look to home magazines, home decor shows and even TV commercials as they are likely to showcase current popular color trends. Or, find a decor item that you love and take your lead from that.

In the end, pick a color or colors that match your personality. Before you paint any walls in your kitchen, take paint samples home and tape them to the walls. Look at them in a variety of light, and leave them up long enough to know if you really like them.

How do I create a more exotic kitchen?

Creating the Exotic Kitchen

Let's say your brand new kitchen cabinets are installed and your appliances are in working order. You've put away your knives, cutting boards, pots and measuring cups. But you look around and the room seems empty, and that's because you haven't yet finished the decor of your new kitchen.

Before you run to the local kitchen store or online kitchen site to buy typical fruit bowls, plates and other similar items, think about whether you'd like to create a different or even exotic decor in your new room instead. Maybe you love the decorating trends you see in Asia. Or, maybe you are mesmerized with the fabulous fabrics and colors of the Middle East. Maybe you brought back a few treasured items from a trip to Italy and you haven't figured out where they belong. There's no reason you can't use these ideas as the basis for a decor theme in your new kitchen.

With a little research at the library or online, you can complete the look. Create intrigue in your kitchen by using a textile as a wall hanging instead of a typical framed picture. Visit auction houses to learn about international antiques you can use as accent pieces in your kitchen. Here are a few tips more for creating an exotic kitchen:

  • Just about any color you choose has an exotic feel when paired with gold or black.
  • Don't buy wood furniture from the tropics. Be careful buying overseas; some companies may not be authentic.
  • Don't over-display exotic items so they compete with each other. Group items by color or texture.
  • Don't over-do exotic fabrics or use too many motifs.
  • Watch that accent pieces fit the scale of your kitchen layout.

How should I decorate my kitchen?

Making Your Kitchen Look Its Best

Some rooms simply feel more inviting than others. Think of a friend's home that you love to visit. It's not likely an accident that you enjoy some friends' houses more than others. It takes some attention to detail and a few design theory tips to make a room look great. The same is true of your kitchen. You want your kitchen to look its best whether it's for you after you return home from a busy day or your guests when they come to visit.

When displaying items on surfaces and counters, turn to a professional design trick called the rule of three. When four or more items are displayed together, it appears busy to the eye and people will tend to look away. But two items doesn't offer enough interest and the eye is bored. Pick three related items for a given space to offer the most attractive decor.

Designers also talk about the importance of asymmetry. When things are too symmetrical, the eye is again bored. But a variety of heights attracts the eye. That's why placing candles of various sizes together has become a popular decor trend. Additionally, if you chose more modern cabinets with sleek, straight edges but that feels too harsh for your eye, look for decor items that are round, such as bowls, trivets or vases. This will soften a modern look.

Although the amount of kitchen decor items you choose can vary (some prefer lots of items while others prefer a sparse appearance), always leave some areas free of decorative items. Otherwise the items you have displayed will get lost in the clutter and lose their appeal.

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William Pirraglia