WRITER | JEAN STOFFER
PHOTO| JEAN STOFFER DESIGN
Have you ever walked into a kitchen and thought, “Wow, I know exactly when this kitchen was remodeled!” Chances are, the space was designed based on whatever the current trends were of that time: massive crown moldings or angled walls, boomerang countertops, track lighting, or even elaborately carved corbels. You get the picture.
Building or remodeling and furnishing a kitchen takes a great deal of effort and a big portion of your budget. It would be comforting to know that, once complete, your kitchen design will last the test of time and look good for many years to come. Ideally, you would not want to be able to pinpoint a particular moment in design and be able to tie it to your kitchen.
It is fun and invigorating to have elements of your design fresh and very current. It’s also uplifting to switch smaller things out from time to time, and the simple changes can sometimes be enough to take your kitchen out of a specific era. There are a few guidelines you can follow to achieve a classic, timeless look while embracing a bit of modernity.
The best approach is to recognize elements that are very costly and difficult to change, then commit to selecting them in classic materials and proportions. This applies particularly to floors, plumbing fixtures, tile, and cabinetry. Bring in touches of current trends with light fixtures, occasional furnishings, and accessories, all of which are relatively simple and not too expensive to change.
There is nothing more classic than 2 ¼-inch wide oak floors, finished on site. Oak was used in homes across the country for over a century and is still timeless when used today. With the latest improvements in finish materials, oak floors will look beautiful and last a very long time.
For plumbing fixtures, stick with classic shapes, finishes, and basin sizes. A classic gooseneck faucet has been around for a long time and still looks good. Apply classic finishes to it like polished nickel and natural brass (not lacquered polished brass!).
If you have ever walked into a room in a decades-old home and seen a white 1-inch hexagon tile floor and white rectangular tile laid in a brick pattern on the walls, you have seen a classic tile combination installed in a classic way – subway tile and honeycomb tile. They may not be exciting, but the look is timeless and will look good forever.
When it comes to kitchen cabinetry, classic lines are simple lines. Resist the urge to add fancy details and angles. Keep it clean. A simple recessed panel door with a moderately sized crown molding is found in butler’s pantry cabinetry dating back to the late 1800s. It still looks good today.
Just like a fun piece of jewelry looks fabulous with a classic black dress, kitchen “jewelry” like light fixtures and accessories can be modern and fun and look fabulous with a classically designed kitchen. These elements can be more daring in shape and design, and, if used in classic finishes, can be the perfect finishing touches!
Think of all the built-in parts of your kitchen as foundational. Have fun, and allow your personality to be expressed with elements easily changed. It will be refreshing, interesting, and you will feel good in your space.