Craftsman-Style Kitchen Cabinets
Learn all about Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman-style, kitchen cabinets and prepare to create a warm and welcoming kitchen in your home.
If you're installing a new kitchen or updating and existing one, and your style gravitates towards traditional details and fine, authentic craftsmanship, then you'll likely want to explore the options for Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets.
Style That Lasts
The Arts and Crafts Movement is more than 100 years old, but its appeal has stood the test of time. Originally a protest of mass-produced items and stuffy, ornate Victorian design, its call to heed a simpler aesthetic and fine craftsmanship still resonates with homeowners today. Common items that reflect an Arts and Crafts heritage are handcrafted furniture, simple trims, ceramic tiles, earthenware, metalworks and stained glass.
The movement's wholesome feel is a natural fit for a kitchen that's warm, casual and refined. "Nature is the one overarching influence for this design style," says Mary Broerman, CCIDC, of MDB Design Group. "The color palette is muted, medium tones: the browns, taupes, greens, oranges, reds and blues you'd see in nature." Tiles or stained-glass panels that depict items from the outdoors such as grapevines, flowers, fruits, leaves, insects and butterflies are beautiful and keep with the fundamentals of the style.
Wood, preferably wide trim in medium to dark tones, stands out as the most basic element you can include to give your kitchen an Arts and Crafts vibe. "Oak, mahogany and teak were the most popular kinds used in the original movement," Broerman says. If your kitchen is on the small side and will be overpowered by such a bold statement, she adds, wood painted white or off-white may be a better choice.
Keep in mind that natural light remains the best way to play up the tonal mood you create with an Arts and Crafts kitchen and bring out subtle colors, patterns and textures. It also lightens the effect of broad swaths of dark wood. If your current kitchen is on the dark side, consider budgeting for a broad bank of windows over the sink or even a skylight.
Install tiles with character. Try a backsplash of subway tiles, either painted with a natural motif or plain and bordered with a series of unique accent tiles. Also look for tiles reminiscent of the prominent artisans of the period: Ernest Batchelder's earth-toned designs from the early 20th century are some of the most coveted ceramic tiles around. You can still buy originals, but reproductions are also widely available.
Flooring and Counters
Choose natural flooring and countertops. For flooring, consider limestone, slate, travertine or marble; on counters, think slate, soapstone or granite. "If money permits, the best countertop surface in any kitchen is granite," Broerman says. Look for a horizontal, flowing pattern reminiscent of water rather than speckles or flecks. If you're a pastry chef or baking buff, a countertop panel of marble is nice because it stays cold for rolling out dough; marble is too soft, however, for use throughout the kitchen. "The only problem with natural stones is that you have to keep them sealed and you can't cut right on them," Broerman says. "When I install a natural countertop for somebody, I always give them a cutting board as a gift."
Wrought iron and copper are signature metals for the Arts and Crafts look. Possibilities include a hand-forged sink, wall sconces, cabinet pulls, or, for a showstopper, a large oven hood.
Upper cabinets with leaded or stained-glass doors are popular for this style, as are clear doors designed to show off a collection of items such as teapots, salt-and-pepper shakers or bowls. Use decorative accessories with an Arts and Crafts inspiration. For accent pieces, use artisanal items in subtle, rich tones; stained glass and pottery make great choices.
The Arts and Crafts design movement began in the last years of the 19th century. As a reaction to the mass production of the industrial revolution, it sought to re-invigorate the contribution of the individual artist or 'craftsman' in design and architecture.
Characterized by fine, intricate woodworking and sturdy construction, Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets are most often made from hard, heavy woods, as opposed to lighter woods or artificial materials.
Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets can lend a historical, antique feel to a kitchen, and for this reason they're often suited for more staid colors of stain or paint, like earth tones or neutrals. Grays, soft browns, rust colors, creams, light greens and off whites all can work well with Craftsman-style cabinets.
Wood is abundant in Craftsman-style cabinets, so you may want to consider contrasting flooring or food preparation surfaces/countertops with different materials, like slate or soapstone. For a backsplash, you can consider including finely designed, artisanal tile, another mark of the Arts and Crafts movement.
In terms of pricing, expect to pay more for Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets, especially if they're custom made, because they do require extensive woodworking in general. However, because of their enduring popularity, Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets are also available in stock and semi-stock format from most home improvement stores—so you may be able to get the classic, antique look you want without breaking the bank.
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