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The Secrets to an Updated New England Style Kitchen

POSTED ON Wednesday, January 15, 2020 IN Kitchen

Create a kitchen that looks and feels like coastal living

Whether you’re a resident of the New England area or simply a fan of East Coast living, we can understand why you’d fall in love with the look and feel of a New England style kitchen.

From grand mansions to rustic beach houses, the New England style spans a variety of different options. Nautical blues and whites, plush furniture, and tongue-and-groove paneling are among the elements essential to achieving the New England style. But the true hallmark of the style is comfort, whether you are outside on the deck in the summer air or spending the night in the warmth of your own home while a storm bears down outside.

The good news is that you don’t have to live in New England to bring the style to your home. Your kitchen, specifically, is a space where you can make a few simple design choices to create the easy-breezy look and feel you’d commonly associate with living along the coastline.

Keep It Simple with Natural Colors

The roots of New England style date as far back as the early 20th century. This was an era when practicality was a point of emphasis in kitchen design, and that was very apparent in the color choices. Natural colors were favored over more showy alternatives, in large part because they were made from natural pigments. Kitchen cabinets and walls would commonly be painted in a single color, often with a matte finish. Today, more homeowners favor an eggshell finish, in kitchens that have been painted by hand with a brush for a more human touch.

Classic blue is a hallmark of coastal style if you are in the market for a New England color scheme, and often paired with white. New England style kitchens will frequently have a white-on-white color scheme with a dark or blue accent cabinet or island. Kitchens with more of a colonial influence can include exposed brick for a more rural look and feel. Tongue and groove kitchen paneling, which looks like vertical paneling in a painted color, is also popular.

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Don’t Overdo It With Your Kitchen Cabinetry

Function, rather than symmetry, is typically a priority in the design of New England style kitchens. That does not mean that symmetry has no place in your kitchen design, but function should be your focus when deciding what elements to include and where to put them.

Keep this in mind when picking out upper and lower kitchen cabinets. You don’t have to fill the entire space as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to opt for a beautiful standalone cupboard on one side of the kitchen. Taking a furniture-like approach to choosing kitchen cabinetry can help create a space that serves your needs but doesn’t make it too busy.

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Avoid an Overabundance of Detail

Practicality has already been mentioned as an essential element of New England style kitchens, and that means resisting the urge to overdo it with details. Kitchens from the early 20th century were not designed for show, so the level of detail in that space will be different compared to the rest of the home. There is a beauty and simplicity to New England style kitchens that bears a strong resemblance to the classic American Shaker style, which favors quality craftsmanship and fine materials over intricate details and elaborate carving.

The Shaker influence on New England style is unmistakable. Shakers settled in a large part of New England in the earliest days of American colonization, and their homes at the time were sparse with detail and featured minimalist furnishings. The goal was to create spaces free from distractions, and the rooms were white washed and the floors made from planked wood. There is a timeless appeal to their approach that has become popular among homeowners today.

With minimal decor, focus shifts towards the architectural elements of the home — wainscoting or beadboard, exposed beams and wide plank floors partially exposed.

Include a Kitchen Island for Food Preparation

No New England style kitchen is complete without an island in the middle of the space. Islands were a staple of grand English home kitchens, which often functioned as commercial kitchens with large preparation tables that were complete with drawers, cupboards, and sinks.

Islands are considered the heart of the kitchen. With no physical connection to the cabinetry and appliances surrounding it, the island stands alone as either a central location to prepare food or even a gathering place if you have space to add comfortable seating.

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Embrace Coastal Living with Nautical Touches

There is no mistaking the impact that proximity to the coastline has had on the New England region’s design sense. The international trading and fishing industries are embedded not only in the local economy, but in the interior design of New England style homes, much like the area terrain has inspired the style’s traditional color palette. Seafoam green, sandy beige, and sky blues are among the most common colors you’ll see.

But where the nautical theme stands out is in the decor. Cargo lighting and industrial metal dining chairs are examples of coastal living having an influence on modern New England style design. Materials like driftwood and shiplap are also fixtures of the style, as they reflect an aesthetic you might associate with beaches, lighthouses, and ships.

The New England style is not exclusive to New England, and with a handful of updates to your kitchen, that coveted look and feel can be yours. To find what you need to create a New England style kitchen, visit our nearest showroom and take a closer look at the kitchen cabinetry and accessories we have to offer.


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