Take Your Kitchen to the Country

Tired of the ultra-modern black and white and chrome of your kitchen? Have you gone beyond the desire for sleek minimalism and long for the comfort of a warm and cozy country kitchen? Many of us spend a lot of time in our kitchens, so comfort is right up there with convenience. Here are some ways to create that feeling of warmth in your kitchen.

Let's start from the bottom up. You may want to cover the existing linoleum with one of the many laminate hardwood floorings that are available at building supply superstores. Snap-and-glue or lock-together flooring pieces are fairly inexpensive, don't require a sub floor underneath for installation, and are extremely durable -- a good move if you have children or pets. Wood comes in many different shades, so pick one that will work well with your choice of cupboards and countertop.

So let's think about cupboards. Bring home some earth-colored paint swatches and see what strikes your comfort zone. Try an antique olive green, light mocha or honey. Before painting, wash your cupboards clean of grease and grime, then lightly scuff them with sandpaper and wipe down again to remove loose dust. Mix your chosen paint color half and half with glaze. Apply with a 1-4" paintbrush, then take a rag made from an old cotton t-shirt and lightly rub the painted area with the rag to give an antiqued texture to the cupboards. Paint the trim in a solid color without the glaze to add contrast. When choosing doorknobs, try copper or wrought iron to create an aged look.

Now for the countertop. Buying countertops can be expensive, especially if you require a custom size or have your heart set on granite. One inexpensive way to resurface the countertop is with ceramic tile, which comes in a variety of colors and sizes. 12 x12 is a good size for countertops, or try smaller Mexican tiles with bright colored designs for the backsplash. After you lay the tiles, grout the seams. Charcoal grout seems to compliment most tile and always looks clean. Finish with two-inch wood trim in a color like red oak for added warmth.

Finally, choose a warm color to paint the kitchen walls. Shades of brown -- such as desert sand, rice cake, or light coffee -- add warmth to the room and don't compete with the color of the cupboards. If the room is large enough, one wall could be painted with a darker or brighter color.

With all the basics in place, add decorative finishing touches, such as aged copper pots and pans hanging from a rack above the stove to wicker baskets or antique cooking utensils picked up at garage sales. A pottery or glass water pitcher filled with fresh flowers is a lovely addition.

If you have an eat-in kitchen, a wooden hutch or antique baker's rack is the perfect setting for your aunt's tea cozy and your collection of cookbooks. Now fill your country kitchen with the aroma of cinnamon buns made from Grandma's recipe... and enjoy.

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