Style Guide for an Arts and Crafts Kitchen

This beloved design proves a natural fit for a kitchen that's warm, casual and refined.

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Arts and Crafts style seeks to return to fine craftsmanship and create a balanced environment. Design by Thomas Conway.

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 Trim

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Wide wood trim in medium to dark tones highlights one of the most basic elements for Arts and Crafts 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," Mary 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.

Getting the Look

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The modern Arts and Crafts kitchen blends simple materials, colors and lines.

You can achieve an Arts and Crafts look in your kitchen with small additions or major changes. Mary offers these tips for maximum impact:

Add rich wood trim. Large crown molding, wide wainscoting or a bold plate rail can deliver instant effect.

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.

Natural Materials

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A light wood was used to design this kitchen island surrounded by chairs and hanging pots.

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," Mary 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.

Cabinet Displays

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Cabinets with clear doors designed to show off a collections of dishware are popular for this style. Design by Mary Broerman.

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.

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