Here in Britain, the 'country kitchen' look is popular whether you live in the countryside or not. Perhaps that's because many of us love the idea of open fields, twittering birdsong and simplicity. After all, wouldn't it be nice to live a modest rural life, with days punctuated with little more than the beep of oven timers and tractors turning beyond our windows?
Well, there's no rule that you have to live down a country lane or own a beautiful thatched roof cottage (check out Maria's home tour if you have a moment) in order to have a country themed home. I've written about the modern country look before, but here's what to know if it's a traditional Great British Bake Off style of a 'country kitchen' that you're dreaming of...
What would you usually see in a British country kitchen?
Aga cookers, a quarry tiled floor and painted wooden cabinets are certainly all key features of a British country kitchen. But expect to see a Belfast sink, a traditional tea pot and a beautiful scrubbed pine dining table too. It's a space that's filled with character, groaning under the weight of victoria sponge cakes, freshly baked bread and fresh flowers.
Tips for pulling off that British country kitchen
The most important thing when you're using this decorating scheme - especially if your house isn't actually a British country cottage - is to make sure it doesn't look too 'twee'.
With this in mind, pay attention to these tips...
Think about your storage, but skip the fitted modern cabinets in favour of freestanding pieces. Restore antiques, restore chipped chest of drawers, and think about adding an old armoire or linen press if you want a sophisticated cabinet for all your dried goods.
Choose your colours carefully. Farrow and Ball does a gorgeous range of colours that are perfectly suited to British country kitchens. Think creams, blues and greens, opting for hues that are toned down and punctuated with punchy soft furnishings, like a bright gingham table cloth or a whimsical floral curtain drawn beneath the kitchen sink. It’s all about creating an interior that looks effortless, natural and understand: this trend isn’t about shabby chic.
Give some careful thought to textures. Modern interiors are all about smoothness, but traditional country kitchens mix and match rough wood, bare walls, exposed brick, soft fabrics and linen tablecloths.
Mix and match your furniture. Second hand tables and chairs will make this look feel more authentic, but be careful to make sure everything is set at the right height! A good tip for mixing and matching chairs is to always buy two of each design: that way, everything will look as if it’s deliberate, rather than haphazard or cobbled together.
Pay attention to the details. A well-made porcelain jug, a coloured bottle turned into a flower vase or a set of playful mugs will inject some warmth and personality into your kitchen. But don’t think you have to source old items to do this: IKEA, Next and independent retailers do some really great modern country kitchen pieces, and no-one will be any the wiser.
Beware of ‘overdoing’ this look. Everything you include in this kind of a kitchen should be practical, and if it isn’t, it should be really, really beautiful. If it feels like you’re making a museum piece out of your kitchen, add a bit of stainless steel or some subway tiles as a splashback to bring it into the 21st century.
What do you think of British country kitchens?
So tell me - does the British country look do it for you? And do you feel like you could work with this decorating scheme even in a modern house? Let me know in the comments below.
p.s My friend Fifi has written about bringing country decoration to a modern home in this post here, sharing how her and her partner are turning their 1930s semi in Brighton into something that ticks the country decorating scheme of their dreams.