An Unintentionally French Country Kitchen

I have never had a kitchen that I designed to fit my own cooking style until now. While so many people are taking down walls to create an open design, I was very happy with my kitchen partitioned off from the rest of the first floor.

I love to cook, but if I am sitting at my dining table, I don't want to see the carnage that yielded the meal I've just served. So my kitchen has four walls, a window and three doors. It is rectangular in shape - about 9-1/2 feet wide by 15 feet long - and it is my main entry to the house since the front door in the sitting room leads to a storefront which I have not yet renovated.

The photo of the window to the left shows the over-sized radiator cover I installed to give me a little more horizontal space, and to neaten up the look of the large window on this wall. It also helps balance the weighty look of the cabinets on the opposite wall.

Initially, I wanted to salvage the existing cabinets and do a half-remodel on this room; however, that notion quickly went pouf as we realized that we would need to gut the room in order to do the electrical properly. We needed some hefty and copious electrical in the kitchen, and we needed an open wall to send our new runs to the second floor and attic. The problem with this was that I knew I couldn't afford new cabinets, but being the tenacious DIY-er that I am.... I found unfinished cabinets online that we finished ourselves. All of that is covered in a previous blog.

I have been cooking in this kitchen for only a short time, but I really do love it. There isn't an acre of counter space, but I am able to make it work just fine for me. The appliance I knew I'd use everyday is the combination convection/microwave oven that we installed over the stove. I spent a bit more on this guy because I knew that it would be my main appliance. That investment has been worth it.

The tile floor and walls have already proven to be an excellent choice since my back yard is shaped like a bowl, and with all the rain we've had this fall, it stays wet and muddy. Next spring I will have to do some grading, but until then, I am doomed to wipe up muddy paw prints on the slate in the stairwell, and on the ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. Those floors clean up in an instant and look like brand new.

On the wall opposite the stove is the refrigerator surrounded by cabinets with glass doors. The cabinets to the right of the refrigerator are only about six inches deep because I had to accommodate the chimney that holds the furnace flue pipe. This actually works nicely because I use these three stacked cabinets as a pantry, and I am able to do my 'shopping inventory' at a glance because everything in the cabinets is visible. Nothing is hidden behind something else. Nice!

The cabinets to the left of the fridge are different depths - the base is a 24" deep drawer base, and the top two cabinets are 12" deep. If I were to do it again, I would have nixed the drawer base and made that cabinet a 12" deep glass front cabinet as well, but perhaps I haven't purchased just the kitchen things that will fit in those drawers. Ah well. Time will tell. I made wood countertops for the cabinets on this side of the room - we couldn't finish installing the cabinets if we didn't have the countertops, and I didn't care if they didn't matchy-match with the rest of the counters, so I used some cabinet-grade ply and some brick mold all stained and urethaned to contrast with the dark brown cabinets.

I knew I wanted Corian for my main counters. The fashionable surfaces now are granite or marble, but neither of those surfaces appeal to me, and neither would look right in this particular kitchen design. I needed a counter that would simply blend into the room, be functional, durable, and attractive, but not flashy.

To me, Corian fit the bill. I had a credit card that gave me points that I could use for gift cards, among other things, so I saved points and bought as many Lowe's gift cards as I could. That helped defray the cost of the Corian enough for me to say that I probably spent as much out of pocket on what I got than if I had just bought laminate.

There is nothing 'high end' about my kitchen. It is humble and serviceable, but I think that one of the mistakes that people can make is to put a high-end kitchen and bathrooms in a house that can't otherwise support those rooms in terms of architectural style or property value. My goal for both kitchen and bath was for people to wonder if they were new or existing.

Because of the antiqued cabinets in the kitchen, several people have asked me 'what I'm going to do with them.' !! When I explain that they are already done, they feel somewhat sheepish, but actually they are simply proving that I accomplished what I wanted - they think the cabinets are old and battered!

There wasn't much accessorizing in this room - I found the fun loop pile rug at, where else, Home Decorator's. It wasn't expensive, and that is good because it will take a beating. I did have a nice pad cut for it so that the tile doesn't take its toll on my legs.

Other than that, I have a Welcome counted cross-stitch that I made years ago for my grandmother. When she passed, I got it back and have put it in the entry of every place I've ever lived. It just so happened that the colors go beautifully with this room. Also from my very small collection of family 'stuff', I have my great-grandmother's washboard and coleslaw cutter - that thing looks like a guillotine! Also the steel my grandfather used - he was a butcher, and an egg beater from either my grandmother or my mom. I added to this collection a funky silver teapot wind chime that I hung in front of the window so it would catch the summer breeze.

All in all, even though I designed this kitchen, it is the one room that surprised me as we finished it. Like I mention in a previous blog, it took on a decidedly French country look that I didn't intend, but that I like very much. It's sort of funky and quirky, casual and comfortable. I am as comfortable standing at the counter preparing a meal as I am sitting on the floor hand feeding my dog her favorite treat - banana.

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Comment by Bill Hendrickson on April 2, 2012 at 7:21pm

Very nice. I like the radiator cover. Did you have that made, or is it "store bought? I think I have seen them on the web somewhere. We are reinstalling our radiators now that the plumbing has been run and the walls and floors have been finished around where the radiators are going and I think we want to cover some of them.

Comment by Karan Andrea on April 2, 2012 at 8:56pm
I ordered them from Fitchman online and over the phone. They are MDF, which made them affordable on my budget, and they came in right and went together easily. There are places that do wood or metal ones, but I didn't want metal and real wood was double the price, which would have blown out my budget.
Comment by lyn joy on April 18, 2012 at 8:27am

It is obvious you know how to cook!  I also dislike "open concept" flowing to a formal dining room.  Great job creating a kitchen that fits the home!

Comment by Carrie Lyn on October 10, 2012 at 8:50pm

I really love the look of your unique and welcoming. It sounds like you got yourself a great deal on the Corian! Smart shopper. :-) Another place to get a good deal on any type of solid surface or quartz is They offer the public low prices on a variety of full and partial sheets.


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