Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Creating the ultimate European influenced Kitchen

Good morning!  I like to think the kitchen I am building/about to put into my new home is a modified European looking kitchen. I wanted it to be heavily  "European influenced" and have definitely incorporated some serious European touches such as the reclaimed limestone floors, the limestone hood, the distressed beams, the black European range,the aged hardware (that I am still picking out) and other little decorative touches.
 I could have gone even further but for me  I needed to also combine this strong aesthetic desire with functionality and practicality. That said, there is nothing in my eyes, more beautiful than a gorgeous European looking kitchen. It is so timeless, and it never ever goes out of style. It is so grand and elegant, so regal and stately. It just works. Here are some of the "ingredients" that I think are necessary to create a true and authentic European kitchen. Would love to know what you think and if you have any additions to make, would love to hear them!!

ANTIQUE BUTCHERS BLOCK......LOVE this, such a unique piece, still trying to figure out a way and I am determined where and how I can incorporate one into my own kitchen. The new ones just won't do. The old ones are just so fabulous with their aged woods and the most perfect patina, the beautiful hardware...how gorgeous are they? They can be found fairly small to be used as a small accent piece or you can scour the land and find some really big monster blocks. They just add instant character to a new kitchen, no doubt about it. The second to last picture shows a very large one incorporated into a newer kitchen...fabulous!!!!!!

How clever was this to have an antique butchers block outfitted with plumbing and used as a vanity?  Gorgeous!!!!!!!

EUROPEAN RANGE. The ever so beautiful enameled range, is there anything that says " I am European" more than the quintessential enameled range? I think not. There are many brands that make them, each wonderful, beautiful, highly functional and fabulous. Ilve, Le Cornue, La Canche, and now Viking has gotten in on the act, and they each make their ranges in a host of  spectacular colors  with rich old world heavy duty hardware. They truly are the crowing touch in any European inspired kitchen. Below is a  sampling of the ranges....all so beautiful!

This is the one I ended up doing, the 60 inch Ilve in black

This is a close up again of the Ilve in black

HONED MARBLE COUNTERTOPS. Some might argue that marble is not practical, it scratches, it stains,etc...but I owned it for seven wonderful years, and every day that I walked into my kitchen I swear that I thanked my lucky stars for my gorgeous marble countertops! They MADE my kitchen and I would not have done it any other way.  There is a reason where throughout Europe you see marble lavishly and abundantly used throughout every pizzeria and 
restaurant countetop and its been this way for centuries! So, I of course will be going this route once again and very happily I might add! I love the look of honed marble in particular, it gives it a slightly aged worn look.........and a few scratches and stains just add to the character of the stone.

GORGEOUS HARDWARE. In a kitchen of this nature, the hardware can make or break the look so choose wisely. In my humble opinion, an antique brass or bronze hardware works well as it is in keeping with the old world feel of this particular look. Though I am a huge huge fan of polished nickel, it is too new and shiny and perfect for this look therefore I would steer clear for this particular style kitchen. Here are a few examples of kitchen hardware that I think work well in this style kitchen

EUROPEAN APPLIANCES. Seeing these beauties makes my heart beat a little faster. They are just so incredibly gorgeous. Built to pass down for generations, these are not for the faint of heart. (and I am referring to your pocketbook as well so start being real nice to hubby NOW) These are heavy duty ready for battle serious appliances! Love the old world feeling, the gorgeous hardware, the beautiful patina and the rich array of colors as only the Europeans seem to be able to master! Make sure you allow six months when ordering....but so worth the wait.(very hard to get for the U.S. this company is mostly geared for Europeans but its fun to look- isn't it?) There is no doubt that these are the crowning touch for any European inspired kitchen!

WOOD BEAMS. Nothing like distressed/antiqued beams in a kitchen to add some charm and character to a kitchen. I love the look.... personally to me, for a European feeling kitchen, the beams add a great deal of authenticity. Slightly distressed, antiqued is the way to go...too perfect makes them feel too new. Here is an example of how great they can look....
Love the mix of woods here, stunning!
House Beautiful featured this gorgeous kitchen
Pretty beams highlight the island and hardwood floors
Traditional Home....love this entire space, just perfection!

RECLAIMED LIMESTONE FLOORS. I know you have to pick your battles. This was one I was determined to win, (and I did) and my husband was man enough to admit I was right :) The reclaimed limestone floors totally "make" my kitchen, in my eyes. Though my kitchen is not in, and even though its the only element in my kitchen, it just added instant character to the space...it was amazing how it transformed an empty shell! I love them. We got ours from Paris Ceramics who import theirs from France. They are truly exquisite and so timeless...whats not to love!

THE LIMESTONE HOOD. Ahhh..the almighty limestone range hood. Gotta have it! The focal point of the kitchen (well it might have some competition from the gorgeous enameled range) but no denying the beauty of this majestic element. Many companies make them in a wide range of styles from French to more Gothic...all so beautiful. They are truly the ultimate way to showcase a beautiful range. Here is a sampling of how gorgeous they are........

ANTIQUE LIGHTING/LANTERNS. You definitely need an antique or antique reproduction lighting element in this kitchen. It can be over the seating area, over the island or over both (as I think I am going to do) but lighting is really a key element in a kitchen and I am sometimes blown away by how much or little of an impact lighting can make, so definitely  take the time to choose something really great! I love these antique lanterns below.......this is just the kind of look I am after. (especially the first one, unfortunately this particular one is sold) 

COPPER POTS. No European kitchen is complete without gleaming copper pots! Ideally ones that are actually used to cook in and not just for show:) There are many brands that make them, Ruffoni is a popular brand sold here in the U.S. Bourgeat is another French company which also makes outstanding copper clad pots. Chateau Provence, Ballarini are a few more wonderful companies and still there are several other great companies....copper pots are a must!

There you have it...of course you have to add in your own little "extras" like special dishes, gorgeous linens, little knick knacks that make your kitchen your own personal space and lets not even forget the almighty wine!! Would love to know what you think and if there is something else you would add to create the ultimate European kitchen!! I always love to hear what you have to say.......enjoy your day!