Kitchen

Cook up a fabulous kitchen design

It is no surprise that the word "hearth" has the word "heart" in it. The hearth was once the center of a home, providing warmth and nourishment to its inhabitants. Today, the hearth has been replaced by the kitchen, and although it is no longer responsible for a family's heat, it is still an integral part of the family's nourishment. Thus, the kitchen remains a vital and central part of any home.

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Kitchen Decorating

Because the kitchen is so functional – as opposed to bedrooms and living rooms, whose primary purposes are relaxation and entertainment, respectively – its style tends to be ignored. Rather than choosing a guiding theme, many homeowners simply buy the kitchen appliances and furniture they need according to price and availability. But while cost and convenience are certainly important factors in such a major purchase, they shouldn't be the only ones. Selecting an overall design for your kitchen – one that reflects your taste and fits within the overall structure and feel of your home – increases your home's aesthetic appeal. This is especially true if your kitchen opens into another room, such as a dining room or living room.

Some popular kitchen designs include country, French country, art deco, vintage and contemporary.

A country kitchen harkens back to the days when homes really did center around a hearth. The fire is replaced by a gas range, but the wood kitchen table or large harvest table remains the centerpiece. A matching china cabinet is the perfect place to display the heirloom dishes.

For a slightly less rustic, more Old-World country feel, try a French country kitchen. A bistro table recalls the charm of European patios, heightened by the addition of plants and pottery in warm, rich tones. Stone or brick accents take the look to the next level.

If you want to recreate a time rather than a place, perhaps art deco, vintage or contemporary kitchen accessories are perfect for you.

An art deco kitchen recalls the fun and frivolity of the Roaring '20s. Square and rectangular fixtures (such as sinks and stoves) are set off by ornate, curvy accents (faucets and knobs), while neutral hues like white, black and gray are interrupted by punches of color, especially red.

Borrowing heavily from the art deco period but with a slightly straighter edge, modern design also features the same basic palette, with a few less curves and a bit more shine. Reminiscent of the 1950s, a modern kitchen is likely to feature gleaming white appliances, including an electric stove and fridge freezer. Retro kitchen tables and Formica countertops, both polished to a high shine, complete the look.

And if your family is more like the Jetsons than the Cleavers, a contemporary kitchen provides the perfect next-century feel. When sleek lines meet interesting curves and metallic finishes (think stainless steel refrigerators) meet glass accents (think glass table tops), the result is a kitchen that is at once futuristic and very now.

Any of these designs can be adapted to suit kitchens large and small. You can also mix and match a little - putting stainless steel appliances in a country kitchen, for example. Choosing a kitchen theme isn't meant to restrict you; rather, it will allow you to use your imagination and still create a cohesive, unified kitchen design.