Kitchen White Fireplace
Kitchen White Fireplace
It is the quirky character of European homes that allows for distinctive design results. People can be found living in medieval buildings that have been in their family for hundreds of years or in an apartment that is carved into a building originally erected for a completely different purpose generations ago. We sometimes can find somewhat similar situations here when an old religious convent is converted into residential condominiums or an old school, mortuary or hospital receives the same transformation. American fascination over how Europeans live is in part due to the randomness of the architectural styles that we find there and the fact that most European cities are many time over the age of our oldest communities. True we have Boston and Savannah. There’s Santa Fe, New Mexico founded in 1607 and St. Augustine, Florida founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés which is the oldest continuously occupied city and port in the continental United States that was founded by Europeans. But when you consider that medieval sections of European towns date back to the 1200 and 1300s, you begin to comprehend that we cannot match the range of styles found abroad. Why is that so important? In order to duplicate the charming European look we need to understand the complexity and “layers” of various materials used by our cousins across the pond. What we need to learn most importantly is that things do not need to match in order to work. You don’t want cacophony: A loud visual symphony of strange colors and textures. Nevertheless, there is a wide range of different wood tones, natural stone materials and wall surfaces that will be “friendly” together. Old structures were added to over many, many years and each builder may have used materials from a different part of the countryside. They may have used what was popular during their era and so we have rooms that have old stones, dissimilar bricks and unalike timbers from differing species.
The Europeans were the first to develop modular cabinetry because they bring their kitchens with them as they move from building to building. Home ownership has not been as highly valued by other societies because of the plethora of old structures rarely destroyed by anything other than war. Peculiarly American is the compulsion to settle and homestead and own a piece of land or a structure that is called home. I’ve noticed that due to the economic realities of our time opinion pieces are appearing that offer young people an alternative vision about homeownership and the obsession to own may begin to shift as generational financial reality changes. Notice the free-standing sink island in this room. At the other end of the space is the business part of the kitchen. The tiniest table is basically squeezed into an area very close to the fireplace. Many of my clients would complain and fret about the table being too close to the chimney. They would worry that the floor lamp is sleek while the island light fixtures are more ornate. This is a very excellent example of the uber flexibility of other cultures when they decorate. It works. It is just enough. Notice too the happy blend of the very antiquated fireplace surround with contemporary flooring and cutting edge laminate. Advanced printing technology is combined by Formica Corporation with satin finishes that have subtle surface clefts and crevices that mimic brushed natural stone. There is no concern over whether or not a cutting edge contemporary material will go with old fashioned arch-top windows and low beams in the room. The classic modern furniture is confidently blended with traditional architecture. I’ve long thought that one of the best traits to possess in this life is flexibility and key to recreating a successful Euro-look is that ability to experiment and combine unusual finishes and materials, furniture styles and accessories.
PHOTO CREDIT: Formica ®