Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Traditional Kitchen

By Jane Davies

What is the traditional kitchen? Is it merely the room in which your mother, grandmother and great aunt Etta prepared every meal? Can it be called a traditional kitchen as long as it contained a stove, sink and refrigerator? If the above elements combine to make a strong, elegant statement that is characteristic of the European and American kitchens of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, then yes, the kitchen can be called traditional. A formal use of natural materials, ornamental detailing and vintage hardware are all distinguishing elements of a traditional kitchen.

A liberal use of natural materials gives a traditional kitchen its penache. Walnut, cherry and mahogany are woods of choice, bringing a richness to the kitchen with their boldness. Raised panel doors add to the depth of the cabinets. The addition of rope and crown molding, corbels and fluting is used universally used to crown the traditional look. Not only do these details look stunning, they add authenticity to the period of style for which the designer is striving.

A large part of the traditional kitchen decor is the use of natural stone or tile. These two materials come in a large variety and enhance the traditional look with their elegance. They can be used as a combination of the two or singly. A very fitting detail, also in great demand with the traditional designer, is the use of vintage fixtures. Lighting, hardware and faucets in a reproductive style will add to the traditional look of the kitchen and are easily acquired at stores in many cities.

One example of a traditional kitchen is the Victorian kitchen. Elegance is the catch-phrase for the Victorian kitchen with its high arched doors and beautifully papered walls. Cabinets of dark heavy wood create a strong statement with their raised panel doors, while intricate crown molding leads into detailed ceiling panels.

Another example of traditional design in the kitchen is the Italian kitchen. Similar to the Victorian kitchen, the Italian kitchen relies on its cabinetry to make a strong statement. The design is in the details: cream colored cabinets with overlays of rope molding and trim. Custom carved reliefs along with intricate tiling help give the traditional Italian kitchen an olde world feeling. Add heavy granite or marble tile for the counter top and you have the recipe for an elegant and functional space.

If Italian is not the desired effect, then the Georgian period has a traditional kitchen worth looking in to. This style of kitchen has its own distinctive design elements, as did the Italian and the Victorian. The Georgian kitchen is formal in its design, with its cabinets of mahogany, cherry and walnut; the doors are generally square raised panels. The stacking of the cabinets from floor to ceiling, generously topped by ornate crown molding is a commonality of the traditional Georgian kitchen, and often an element of black is added, such an a center island

The traditional kitchen has much to offer in design elements for today's home. Even with its formality and elegance, the homeowner should not discount its functionality and convenience. The basics of the traditional kitchen are the same: The use of natural materials, antique and vintage fixtures and ornamental details. But the possibilities are nearly endless!

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