Maximizing natural light and views helped this kitchen's layout fall into place. In a decidedly French home, the challenge was to give the interior existing kitchen a fresh interpretation and modern features for homeowner Jill Nunnally, her husband, Talbot, and their three children. In terms of aesthetics, the pull toward French style was inescapable, says Jill, a designer herself. After 10 years spent researching materials, cabinetry ideas, and colors, “I knew I wanted both painted and stained cabinets, with chicken wire incorporated in the design, as well as an island with the feeling of furniture,” she says. “I also liked thick limestone countertops.”
To give the back wall a strong presence, architect Linda MacArthur and kitchen designer Jane Hollman centered the range as the focal point, with windows on either side that look out to the pool.
Upper cabinets are cream, and the island complements the other elements with its sophisticated gray-blue. “We like to use the three-color tones in our French and European kitchens, because the contrast gives it that unfitted look and feel,” MacArthur says.
To make the island stand out even more, Jill commissioned a hand-painted design on its sides, based on a decorative motif she had seen on a French chest. Similarly, she wanted lighting more special than the recessed fixtures needed for a well-lit cooking area. When she spotted oversize burlap shades at a local warehouse, Jill knew she’d found another important accessory for the kitchen.
“I love burlap,” she says. “The texture, color, and relaxed feeling add so much to the room."
With three teenagers and their friends going in and out, the kitchen’s rustic elements had to not only look good, but also take some wear and tear. Concrete and limestone counters, travertine-tile floors, and cabinets already with a few dings in them actually look better over time. In another 10 years, this kitchen may need a few tweaks, but its timeless look should still be a standout.
Architect Linda MacArthur shares her strategies for bringing a touch of France to your own kitchen.
- Create an unfitted look. Consider furniturelike cabinets, chicken-wire inserts, and a mix of finishes.
- Embrace natural materials. Stone floor tiles, concrete or limestone countertops, and reclaimed-wood ceiling beams add rustic character.
- Bring in subtle color. Painted or glazed cabinets in muted earthy hues infuse a space with warmth.
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