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Guide to Creating an Old World Kitchen

Classic architectural elements, vibrant colors and distressed finishes create a warm family-gathering place.

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Photo 2 of 4Go dark with the cabinetry and furnishings but lighten up the room on the ceiling, wall space and floor. Design by Didier Michot.

Bright and Dark(2 of 4)

Smooth or distressed finishes on the interior walls can help define Old World texture, for instance, faux plaster painted walls recall a Michelangelo fresco.

Because of its reliance on daylight, dark woods and wrought iron elements, Old World design naturally contrasts the light with dark. Natural stones, such as travertine, limestone, marble and granite are often combined with cherry-wood floors or walnut cabinetry to set the scene. The use of clay pavers may also be used, but because this material doesn’t give and is hard on the feet, it’s best used on the backsplash and perhaps in a basket weave pattern.

Common architectural elements in the kitchen that also bring the old into the new include the use of arches and columns around windows, the sink or stove area, and also at the doorways. If your home already has these elements, it’s a good bet an Old World design would work well in the space.

Hiding modern stainless steel appliances behind wooden panels is recommended for this design style. Since they didn’t have stainless steel in the 1500s, modern appliances like this clash, Broerman says. For those who don’t like stainless steel, she says black appliances blend in well in the Old World kitchen.

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