A Kitchen with French Flair

Rustic features show off their sophisticated side in this charming European-style kitchen.

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    French Transformation

    Distinctive details in the French-inspired kitchen include hexagonal travertine tiles on the floor, reclaimed and distressed woods, and burlap shades on large pendant lights. Display cabinets anchor the room’s character.

    The homeowner enlisted architect Linda MacArthur, who incorporated many of the elements from the original kitchen -- arched doorways, casement windows, and reclaimed beams -- in a new, larger version located in an addition off the back of the house that also includes a breakfast room and a family room. 

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    In the Details

    To make the island stand out even more, the homeowner 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, she knew she'd found another important accessory for the kitchen. 

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    Custom Touches

    Maximizing natural light and views helped the kitchen layout fall into place. "Once we determined where the windows would go, then that dictated the sink placement, and the work triangle could be planned," MacArthur says. To give the back wall a strong presence, she and kitchen designer Jane Hollman centered the range as the focal point, with windows on either side that look out to the pool. A custom hood wrapped in old beams continues the old-world feeling.

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    Custom and Complementary

    Custom base cabinets resemble heirloom furniture, with intricate carvings and a rich walnut stain. As contrast, lighter upper cabinets in a distressed finish bring a less-formal style to the room. Thick limestone countertops complement the room's rustic leanings.

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    Unfitted to Perfection

    Instead of glass, chicken-wire mesh brings a country French detail to the upper cabinets. Along with the furniturelike cabinets and a mix of finishes, details such as chicken wire inserts create an unfitted look that furthers the French aesthetic. 

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    For Continuity's Sake

    Wood planks on the breakfast room walls continue around the refrigerator. Reclaimed-wood beams on the ceiling also link the two rooms.

    A color palette of soft cream and gray adds to the French vibe. Perimeter cabinets are furniturelike with their stained wood and carved details. 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.

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