The beating heart of your home, the kitchen is where it all happens. It’s where we goad ourselves into life with a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea at the start of a long day and settle down for a warm home cooked meal at its end. It’s also a room we use to entertain guests, relax and just generally enjoy our home lives and of course, when it comes to any room where you’ll be spending a large amount of time, the aesthetics are just as important as the functionality.
If you’re thinking about refurbishing your kitchen, there are a few directions you could move in. You could follow your own muse and bring your own ideas to the fore but if you really want to make an impression you might want to consider looking to other regions of the world for inspiration. You may decide to create a ‘Frankenstein’ kitchen that matches together different aspects from a variety of sources, or create a more cohesive, ‘themed’ kitchen. Regardless, we’ll be examining below a selection of potential options from 5 countries with vastly different kitchen design ideals. It’s important that a kitchen reflects the ‘character’ of its owner and by using ideas highlighted in this guide, you should be able to underline your own personality whilst also adding a dash of exotic foreign glamour into the mix at the same time!
A style perhaps more akin to our own than any of the others on the list, the kitchens of Scandinavia are generally open, modern and very white. The Scandinavian kitchen style might not be as glamorous or exciting as some of the others we’ll be examining later, but they are ergonomic, attractive and infinitely customisable. Whilst the ‘bright white’ style could be accused of being a little ‘cold’ and ‘clinical’, the bright colour palette actually accentuates natural light and the minimalism of the Scandinavian design means that there’s room to add plenty of your own personal touches (artwork, televisions, chalkboards etc.).
The great thing about sticking to a largely white colour scheme is that any small touches of colour you add will really ‘pop’. A common technique in many Scandinavian kitchen is to use bright, colourful chairs, carpets and utensils to create a pleasing contrast. Plain, simple cabinets and cupboards are the way to go and the great thing about the Scandinavian style is that it’s quite simple to achieve without spending a fortune. In many cases all your kitchen will need Is a couple of coats of white paint and a new surface. In terms of the surfaces used, black marble is always a good bet with subtle, overhead lighting. Wooden floors are also common in Scandinavian kitchens, though they are often ‘livened’ up a little by more colourful rugs. The simple but elegant style of the Scandinavian kitchen would make it ideal for single home owners or young couples.
The French are renowned for their opulence, elegance and old world glamour, particularly when it comes to the kitchen. French cuisine is amongst the most respected in the world for a reason. The rich, exotic flavours and beautiful presentation has become the diamond standard by which all other ‘haute cuisine’ (high cooking) is matched, indeed the very term itself is French.
If you consider yourself a borderline Francophile, and wish for your own kitchen to embody the glamour and style of the great French kitchens, the first place you’re going to want to look is at your storage spaces. Whereas in the U.K we tend to store everything out of sight, the French like to make their cooking ‘instruments’ part of the décor. Pot and pan racks are a common sight in most French kitchens as they like to keep these most vital of implements within reach at all times. Copper pans especially have a really pleasant aesthetic that stand out beautifully against a typical French patina finish and lush, furniture style cabinets. The main workspace is also vital. The French tend to do the majority of their Kitchen chores and preparation on a large workplace ‘island’ in the middle of the kitchen. There should be enough space for multiple people to work at the same space and the use of sturdy, refurbished wood will really help catalyse an atmosphere that speaks to a uniquely southern European charm whilst also giving off a rustic vibe. In fact the organic ‘aged’ look is indicative of French kitchens as a whole. There’s a genuine ‘warmth’ that comes with ‘used’ wood, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to your French kitchen. Marble and glass just don’t have the same ‘feel’, both physically and aesthetically but if price is an issue even a few wooden ‘accents’ scattered amidst a polished, monochromatic space can really help bring out its inner character. From a purely logistical standpoint, wood also has a micro-bacterial quality to it, which makes it the perfect preparation space for cutting and cleaning.
Mediterranean kitchens are all about warmth. Warm colours, warm curves and designs that are well suited for a warm climate. It could be argued that having a Mediterranean kitchen in a temperate climate might ring a little false, but the power of positive reinforcement should not be undersold. By giving your kitchen a touch of Mediterranean passion, you’ll be able to feel like your cooking in the middle of a summer, even during a miserable British winter. The great thing about the Mediterranean kitchen design is that it’s simple enough for you to add some subtle touches, without breaking the bank or breaking your back. The general style was first built to accommodate warm climates but as air conditioning has become more of a standard in the developed world, the interior design of Mediterranean kitchens has become less about function and more about fashion.
The colour of Mediterranean kitchens is as vibrant as full of life as the region itself. Bright blues and yellows that represent the sea, sand and sunshine are popular but don’t go overboard. Use a little beige or white to off-set the more ‘lively’ colours. Texture is also important. When applying paint, try layering it so as to provide an uneven thickness, which will lend a sense of visual depth. Another technique favoured by the Mediterranean’s is to use a compound made up of coloured beeswax and dry wall, which can thicken up and enhance a painted wall. The sense of space should be a given, but try not to go overboard. Though the windows and doors should be large and open, accessories are a vital aspect of the Mediterranean kitchen. Large, family style dining tables, beams, bold light fixtures and lots of plant life is typical and can really help lend some character and ‘soul’ to the room.
Image Credit: HGTV
The Moroccan aesthetic is one that is incredibly exotic but also surprisingly attainable with very little effort. There are so many cultures found in Morocco (African, European and Moorish amongst them) that the design is bound to come across as a little ‘hodge-podgy’, but it’s this collision of cultures that makes the style so consistently popular. Moroccan style is all about rich colours, earthy tones and warm, relaxing vibes, vibes that are particularly at home in the kitchen.
For a Moroccan feel, you’ll want to go with a colour scheme that is at once both ‘earthy’ and colourful. Blended colours help underline the eclectic nature of the culture so look for colours that tow the line between red, brown and orange. A good litmus test would be to use colours names after rich spices such as ‘cinnamon’, ‘saffron’ and ‘paprika’. The key thing about Moroccan style is that it doesn’t feel too ‘formal’ so your furnishings should also be not too ‘showy’. Plain, dark wooden surfaces are common with inventive but subtle lighting and colourful, comfortable rugs. Any seating should include plenty of cushioning and the walls should be covered in patterned tiles that reflect that mystery and elegance of the region. The Moroccan style is also a great way to add a unique and interesting twist to a more modern and clean looking kitchen.
The ‘calm’ and ‘tranquility’ of the Asian kitchen is what helps it stand apart. The sleek, functional design is perfect for busy modern lives and the colours used are subtle enough to work in any number of situations. The Eastern vibe can be quite difficult to nail down but with the right amount of research it’s not unthinkable to imagine your kitchen embodying the intrigue and grace of the orient.
Asian kitchens might be sleek and subtle but they are also infused with a deceptive amount of personality. Colour wise you’re going to want to stick to reds, white and browns with hints of black here and there. The combination of organic tones and modern fittings is perfectly in keeping with the oriental tradition of being forward thinking whilst also keeping a foot in the past. Accruements should be kept to a minimum and all kitchen surfaces should be either polished marble or stone. When it comes to Asian design in general the ‘less is more ethos’ rings true, and this is certainly the case in the kitchen where too much clutter can be both dysfunctional and unattractive.