Designing a Traditional French Kitchen

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen it can be tempting to go for a sleek, modern look. A glance through the kitchen catalogues will present you with page after page of futuristic looking appliances, immaculate curved surfaces and worktops that look like mirrors. It’s certainly an appealing concept and one which many people fall for so it can be easy to forget the charm of an old style kitchen. French kitchens in particular have a style which conveys a warm, rustic, comfortable image which harks back to the days of a simple life lived in the French countryside. The style of rustic French kitchens tends to focus on function rather than form and is almost entirely void of the decadent flourishes found in today’s modern kitchens. French kitchens revolve around the food as opposed to the surrounding decor and if this is the look you are going for then all it takes is a little planning and organisation.

Start by taking a good look at the space that is available to you. You may even want to take some measurements so that you are able to properly evaluate and designated spaces to be used for food preparation, cooking, storage and of course for the oven and microwave. Your preparation and cooking areas should be kept the stove as well as the microwave and sink. In terms of storage is is common for a French kitchen pantry to simply consist of shelves with no doors, however you may not wish to keep to this tradition if you are particular about keeping your food protected.

Country kitchens will always have fresh herbs to hand and your kitchen should be no exception. Place herbs by the windows, or you could always grow them yourself in window boxes if they are easily accessible from your kitchen window. Not only will they be a great contribution to the overall aesthetic of the kitchen but they will also be a very functional addition. Fresh herbs are important ingredients when it comes to flavourful cooking. Common herbs that you should always have on hand are sage, thyme rosemary and thyme.

If you want your kitchen to have an authentic French feel to it then you should keep your tools on display out in the open. Traditional French kitchens will have their pots, pans, knives and other tools clearly visible and to hand. Pots and pans in particular are usually hung up in the centre of the kitchen above the counter. By doing this you make the cooking experience much quicker as you aren’t spending your time rooting through cupboards. You also free up this cupboard space for your food and ingredients.

Light will add to the aesthetic of the kitchen and natural light from a window will help to enhance that rustic feel and give the room added ambience. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have large kitchen windows then you should make up for this by installing appropriate lighting to illuminate your kitchen during the evening and night.

In terms of materials try to use wood and other natural materials around your kitchen. The French are well known for their emphasis on using naturally grown ingredients in their cooking and this is reflected in their kitchen with the use of natural materials. The same should apply to your kitchen cupboards, counters as well as your kitchen tools where possible. The look of your traditional kitchen can be completed nicely with the addition of a wooden cutting board and mixing bowls.

Dave Matthews is writing on behalf of Visionhouse Software, leading suppliers of kitchen design software.

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