Today’s most popular kitchen interiors are characterized by the sleek simplicity of modern and contemporary design. These mostly unadorned kitchens feature flat-paneled or shaker-style cabinetry, usually painted white, cool metals such as chrome and stainless steel, and simple hardware. Homeowners today seem to be enamored with open layouts, and clean, straight lines. Adding personality to the space usually means incorporating strategic pops of bright, bold color and unique patterning. While these design elements fit nicely in today’s streamlined technological world, there’s something beautifully nostalgic about spaces that embrace the more formal designs of centuries ago. Commonly referred to as Old World, the opulent aesthetic of 16th and 17th Century Europe still appeals to the old souls among us who prefer spaces that exude a warm sophistication.
If this describes you, then you’ve probably wondered how to emulate this design in your own home. If finances aren’t an issue for you, then creating an Old World space with custom-designed cabinetry and carefully preserved antique decor won’t be much of a hassle. However, if you’re like most of us, designing an authentic Old World space can cost much more than can be realistically budgeted for. This can be a daunting realization, but all is not lost! Using stock cabinetry, which are pre-made cabinets that are standardized in size, can help you significantly slash the costs of creating the space you desire. With the right cabinet style, accessories, decor and a little attention to detail, you can create a space that closely emulates the rich warmth of Old World – without the price tag!
Old World spaces were characterized by opulence. The brilliance of these grand spaces were their ability to maintain a warmth and coziness in spite of their large size. Recreating an Old World-style design therefore requires space. The requisite adornments of an Old World style may prove to be overwhelming in small spaces, making your kitchen seem even smaller. If your kitchen is not large enough to fit an island, you may want to consider a more simplified traditional style with similar design elements instead.
Old World kitchens embraced the natural architecture of the space. As these Medieval and Renaissance spaces were dependent upon natural lighting, large windows that allow for ample sunlight would go a long way towards creating a more authentic feel. Exposed wooden beams on the ceilings and large archways framed by wooden moldings provide a great foundation for an Old World kitchen. Adding walls with a distressed or textured look such as a stucco overlay will significantly enhance this foundation. A simple cream color for the wall will help provide a contrast to the room’s darker elements. A light-colored stone backsplash could also work. As far as the general look goes, muted, yet rich colors should characterize the space. Rich woods, warm, brushed metals, as well as deep tones such as burgundy, navy and forest green are all great options. Natural wood and stone should also be featured.
Cabinets & Accessories
The cabinets you choose will most often dictate the true character of your kitchen’s design. Flat-paneled and shaker kitchen cabinets that are currently popular will not be found in an Old World space. These door styles exude simplicity; you’re looking for a door style that is a little more intricate. While distressed finishes would be most authentic, these customizations often increase the cost. Instead, choose a raised-panel, wooden door style with rich tones, such as our Signature Brownstone, or Pacifica kitchen cabinets. Though our Sienna Rope kitchen cabinets are a bit lighter in tone, its signature rope inlay design carries the spirit of intricate woodworking that classic Old World designs are known for. For a more updated, yet still appropriate take on the Old World style, you can create a contrasting two-tone look by pairing the rich Signature Brownstone door style with the off-white Signature Pearl kitchen cabinets.
To really imbue your kitchen with that Old World flair, accessories are absolutely necessary. By themselves, these undistressed door styles won’t really give that Old World look, but when coupled with the proper accessories, hardware and fixtures, you can create a space that embraces this antiquated style. You can begin by properly framing your cabinets with matching wood crown molding. Larger, more intricate crown molding with rope or dental accents are best. Decorative legs, corbels, and decorative fillers also add a necessary touch of detail, especially when added to the kitchen island. These are all great options for creating a more luxurious look without investing in expensive custom detailing, and all are available as matching accessories for the door style of your choice.
Hardware, Fixtures, Furnishings & Decor
Attention to detail is what will really help you create a space that most closely emulates the Old World style. It isn’t enough to create an intricate-looking space. Your kitchen must also have a worn, antiquated feel. You can accomplish this by incorporating elements such as wrought iron, oil-rubbed bronze or burnished brass. Elaborately detailed oil-rubbed bronze hardware for your cabinetry can help lend an antique look to otherwise new-looking cabinets. If you’re looking for something truly eye-catching to really round out the look, a gorgeous wrought-iron chandelier and bar stools with wrought-iron backs can really add a touch of luxury. If you can find a bar stool with both a wrought iron back and a seat decorated with elaborate floral or patterned fabric in muted tones, that would be a plus.
Because the key is to create a “warm”, rather than “cool” space, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed brass or antique copper faucets with a unique, vintage look are much more preferable to the simple stainless steel and chrome faucets that are most popular today. As for your countertops, stone is absolutely the way to go. Granite, limestone, travertine, or marble countertops are all great options. Lighter-colored stone can help provide a contrast to the darker cabinetry and fixtures. Granite with shades of brown, deep red, or specs of gold would really add to the rich warmth of the space. However, if stone isn’t your preference, wood countertops would still fit into the overall natural look of the design. Finally, decorate your space with a few eye-catching decorative pieces. Vases, canisters or other kitchen items made of a warm, patinated metal or painted ceramic would add a nice touch. Some foliage in the form of a house plant or two can really lend to the natural feel of the space.
If you can create a space that is luxurious yet warm, that is formal in its detailing yet relaxed and homely, and that embraces the elements of nature yet exudes a rich opulence, then you have succeeded. It also shouldn’t require expensive custom cabinetry or unaffordable antique pieces. With stock cabinets, intricate accessories, and the right attention to the other decorative elements of your space, you can achieve an Old World look that doesn’t break the bank.