Cottage-Style Kitchen Cabinets

Find out all you need to know about cottage-style kitchen cabinets, and get ready to add a traditional touch to your kitchen design with these helpful hints.

Cottage Style Cabinets

Cottage Style Cabinets

A wide shot of cottage style kitchen cabinets.

Photo by: Harry Hu

Harry Hu

By: Sean McEvoy

Cottage-style kitchen cabinets are generally characterized by a slightly more casual, eclectic and antique design. If you're considering updating your current kitchen or installing a new one in cottage style, there are a few helpful hints to keep in mind when it comes to cabinets.

Modern Cottage Kitchen Remodel

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Rental Rescue

Before the remodel this kitchen was an eyesore with dated cabinets and appliances on their last leg — definitely not a space to attract renters. The chimney (the real gem of the space) was hidden behind plaster. Property owners Charlotte Jenks Lewis and Brett Hartmann worked to preserve many charming, historical details of the original kitchen. They kept the vintage washboard sink and updated it with new cabinets and a working faucet. Photography by Charlotte Jenks Lewis

Easy Updates

Color was the simple solution to unify the mix of cabinets — old and new, the cabinets are all glossy white. The couple added white cabinetry from IKEA to house the sink, dishwasher and built-in oven. A glossy white paint updated the original cabinetry and blends with the white lacquer IKEA cabinets. "There are different cabinets, but it works," says Brett. "The new cabinets are not right next to the old painted cabinets."

Affordable Solutions

Originally there was an old, inefficient refrigerator in the rental unit; however, the house came with a fairly new white refrigerator in the downstairs kitchen. Charlotte and Brett decided to move that refrigerator to the upstairs kitchen to save costs.

Charming Fixtures

Charlotte and Brett carefully chose special details, such as a vintage schoolhouse light that's now the centerpiece of the ceiling. Charlotte found the light at a local shop called Lighting Craftsmen.

Reclaimed Sink

The owners held on to some of the kitchen's original details, like the washboard sink. The sink was in good shape and adds character to the space. They replaced the old faucet with a new faucet by Kohler. Since it's an income property, they wanted to avoid any maintenance problems with a vintage faucet. The washboard sink doubles as a drying rack.

Design That Works Together

The new 48-inch cabinet from IKEA didn't match up with the vintage 44-inch sink. Brett solved the difference by buying a small piece of marble to finish it off. "It's worthwhile to have a pretty sink when you're washing dishes," says Charlotte. "It fits the vision we were going for." Above the sink, the owners mounted a knife rack as a space-saving solution.

The Fifth Wall

Originally there was a tiled drop ceiling throughout the rental unit. Their contractor removed the drop ceiling and added a new drywall ceiling. The kitchen gained almost two feet in height, which makes the space feel larger. Now there’s storage space above the top cabinets, too.

Attention to Details

Charlotte and Brett removed the scalloped trim under the top cabinets. Removing that detail instantly updated the style of the cabinets.

Color and Hardware

The owners replaced the cabinets' hardware with simple modern knobs and pulls. The neutral backdrop of the kitchen — white walls and white cabinets with light gray painted floors — makes it easy to play around with color in the kitchen accessories, like these colorful recycling bins.

Classic Subway Tile

Charlotte and Brett chose white subway tile to replace the old Formica backsplash. They were inspired by seeing the classic subway tile in many local Brooklyn restaurants and shops.

Painted Floors

The couple had just vacationed in Nantucket, Mass., and they wanted to bring that beach cottage style into the kitchen design. "There wasn't the right gray in the industrial floor paint that my contractor uses," says Charlotte. "So we mixed white with steamship gray to the get the light shade of gray I wanted to paint the floor."

Around the Range

The new range is built into the new cabinetry, so it takes up a smaller footprint. The owners added an IKEA range, which was a more affordable model. By adding the coordinating IKEA cabinetry around the range, the oven has a more high-end style. Built-in appliances feel custom and look more polished.

Butcher-Block Countertops

Brett and Charlotte added a pretty butcher-block top to the lacquered white cabinetry in front of the chimney. By doing so, they also extended counter space around the stove. Now there's a place for the coffeemaker.

Vintage Sitting Area

By removing the old, inefficient appliances that were also taking up valuable floor space, the kitchen now has room for a table and chairs. This chemist's table suits the kitchen's style, which is a natural mix of modern and vintage.

First up: materials. You'll almost definitely want to look at woods, as these are the traditional choice for cottage-style cabinets. Some manufacturers offer wood laminate in this style, but traditional woods like maple, hickory and cherry are more common.

A potentially time- and money-saving aspect of cottage-style kitchen cabinets is the fact that they often lack doors, opting instead for an easy-access open design.

Another popular option if you're considering cottage-style kitchen cabinets is to mix the old and new in equal measure. For example, if your kitchen features gleaming stainless steel appliances, consider adding antique cabinet hardware, light fixtures and seating. You can also consider stylish "shabby chic" choices like glass or crystal knobs, handles and pulls.

Lastly, consider using recovered or antiqued brackets, molding and other fixtures in the design of your cottage-style kitchen cabinets, to further capture a whimsical mood for your kitchen.

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