Posted by Derek
When you hear the phrase “country kitchen”,, it conjures up certain images in your head. The huge wooden table on the flagstone tiles; a freshly baked pie just out the aga oven, the sweet aroma wafting around the room; and the beautiful big antique Welsh dresser with all the crockery on display. Yes, there’s a certain romantic notion about the old country kitchen and a good reason.
Classic country kitchens were hectic places, so a great deal of emphasis was placed on practical considerations. There was a huge aga oven for making meals for all the hungry mouths and big Belfast sinks for the washing up. There was usually a pantry for the food, and quite often, there was even a fireplace.
While times have changed, and there is not as much need for most of these features, there are certainly some aspects of classic country kitchens revived with a modern twist.
In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly how to create your very own modern country kitchen.
If you want a modern country kitchen, there has to be a big emphasis on natural materials throughout. Country kitchens were traditionally made with natural materials that were often locally sourced. Wood and stone, such as slate, were commonly used and granite if one could afford it.
Slate floors were a staple of classic country kitchens, but a floor of polished slate tiles will give this old idea a new lease of life and provide you with a sumptuous base upon which to build the rest of your design.
To incorporate some wood, you have three main options: kitchen cabinets, table and worktop. While you may think this sounds like too much wood, because there are so many types of wood, each with different colours and patterns, there is plenty of scopes to mix and match until you find a combination that works.
As the slate floor is darker, why not go for some lighter woods on the worktops and cabinets, such as oak and cherry, then for the table, opt for a darker wood, such as walnut or red cedar. Going for a darker wood for your table will draw attention to it and let it act as a lovely design feature. Alternatively, swap out the wooden worktop for a dark granite to tie in with the slate floor.
The vast majority of old country kitchens had aga ovens. These huge iron cookers work by always being on low intensity, storing the heat for cooking. While they are still popular and modern versions certainly have their plus points, the method of heating doesn’t lend itself to the fast pace of modern life.
For that, you need gas, which allows you to fire up the heat to the max in an instant, stir fry in 2 minutes, and you’re done. Thankfully, there’s a way to combine modern convenience and old style to get the best of both worlds.
Modern range cookers have two large ovens, a “bottom oven”, a grill and, crucially, a set of gas rings, all the while having a look as though they were plucked straight out a 1950’s catalogue. For the modern country kitchen, a range cooker is a must-have.
With a seemingly endless supply of dishes to wash and clothes to clean, classic country kitchens needed a washing station that was fit for purpose. The hugely popular Belfast sink provided just that, with two large, deep sinks sitting side by side, allowing two people to work at the one time if need be.
Belfast sinks have a rugged beauty about them, and their continued popularity is a testament to their aesthetic appeal as much as it is to their usefulness.
For a modern country kitchen, a single or double Belfast would work wonders. And to give it a modern upgrade, you could install a modern tap that provides not only hot and cold water but boiling water as well. You can also get models that have an extendable pull out the hose – perfect for rinsing off the dirty dishes.
In the intro, we mentioned the classic Welsh dresser. Those who don’t know, these big brutes were usually placed against the end wall of the kitchen and had drawers on the bottom for storage and shelves on top for storing and displaying the best china.
For a modern take on this old-style, you could do worse than installing a Shaker style kitchen pantry. These gorgeous units are a design statement in themselves, as well as being excellent storage solutions.
Inside these pantries, there are storage areas galore, with as much space as you could ever need to store all your cooking supplies. You can even make use of the door by having a spice rack installed on the inside.
Don’t worry; we’re not going to suggest you do away with your kitchen lights and install some paraffin lamps. However, there is a way to use your kitchen lighting to add to the “country” feel of the room.
Generally, most old country kitchens were on farms. And there are lots of pieces of old farm machinery that you can find on auction sites or specialised dealers. In fact, most farmers will be glad to get rid of what they consider old junk, so don’t be afraid to ask. Our advice is to get your hands on a piece of old farm machinery and upcycle it into a stunning piece of modern lighting.
You can repurpose old tractor parts into candle holders for the table, use an old hoe blade as the stand for a lamp, or transform an old iron hen feeder into a pendant kitchen light.
As there is such an emphasis on incorporating natural materials within a modern country kitchen, these will necessarily dominate a lot of the room's space in terms of colour. Don’t worry; this is a good thing. However, the key here is to work around these natural materials by carefully choosing colours to complement their natural hues and tones.
As a general rule of thumb, lighter and brighter colours are best left to the sleek, modern kitchens as this works well with their high-gloss cabinets. However, for our modern country kitchen, using darker tones will accentuate those natural materials by letting their colours, grains, and patterns enjoy the limelight.
Speaking of light, as you’re using darker colour tones, it’s important to ensure plenty of light to bathe the room. This will make the room feel cosy and homely.
While the country kitchens of old may have got away with there being lots of clutter around, this won’t wash in our modern country kitchen. A key design principle these days is minimalism. While modern country kitchens aren’t aiming for fundamental minimalism where not a single item can be seen on a worktop, we still want to keep the area looking neat and tidy.
Some storage solutions will help you in that respect.
Double drawers are a prime example of making use of space that would otherwise be wasted. Having two areas for storage where there would usually be one, double drawers, you guessed it, can double your storage space.
Another great storage idea is the pull-out corner cabinet. Utilising extendable hinges, these cabinets open right out to display all your pots, tins, spices, whatever you like. And by making use of otherwise dead space, they’re another lifesaver when it comes to kitchen storage.
For a storage solution that doubles as a nice design feature, you could instal a wall-mounted rack for all your pots and pans. This will look great and free up a full drawer of storage space. Similarly, you might want to instal a metallic utensil holder above or near your new range cooker. This will allow you to store all your knives and other utensils in a handy spot.
Plants work wonders to bring a little life to any room, so it’s a good idea to place at least some in your modern country kitchen.
Using own-grown herbs was commonplace in the day, so why not revive this and have a row of small potted herbs along your windowsill. If this sounds good, you might even want to grow your own chilli peppers, though make sure they can get plenty of light.
It’s no wonder people are reviving classic kitchen styles with a modern twist. Natural materials, good lighting and a focus on practicality combine to provide a certain charm that is hard to resist. And with various modern appliances allowing you to make the best of both worlds, modern country kitchens are a no brainer.
We hope this guide has provided some inspiration for your very own modern country kitchen.
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