(I apologize for a bizarre post many of you received from us today. It was due to a false manipulation of the key-board. I do apologize.)
I had a delightful request for some information about French Kitchens from a new reader. Originally my idea for this post was to scour the houses and apartments of all the family and friends I have here in Paris and throughout France in order to do a truly thorough and realistic job of the response-post. I was a little too ambitious. It would take a couple of months for me to invite myself over to all these people’s houses and take the right pictures/video and then put it all together. I decided to error on the side of efficiency given that our reader is currently doing a home reno and just might be under a time restraint to make certain design choices. This, of course, means I’ve also erred on the side of a little less creativity and uniqueness, particularly when it comes to the pictures.*
Having said that, I have tons to say about French Kitchens. In fact, my mom did a kitchen reno a few years back and it is from my belle-mère’s country kitchen in Dordogne that she derived her inspiration. I do believe that particular country kitchen is the most beautiful, quintessentially French kitchen I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
I must mention that my tastes are completely classic and perhaps even low tech in the sense that I would much rather have an old wood plank table as an island than the sophisticated space-odyssey-type productions I see when I’m visiting friends back home. Those modern designs are also very popular in France, particularly with the younger generations or Parisians (as a matter of space). Anyone who shops at IKEA for instance or anyone who grew up with the traditional breathing down their throat and now wants to make a drastic split with the past. I’m neither of those things. In fact, I’d rather like to live back when carriages ruled the roads and ladies wore long dresses (hold the corset) and gentlemen were in tails and top hats; when we dressed for dinner at home…
But I’m getting away from my point… kitchens!
When I first moved to France, some of my very first impressions were about French kitchens, oddly enough. These have since been elaborated upon by my introduction into an old traditional French family and all the French kitchens that came along with them. So when I speak of a French kitchen I speak of the old tradition French kitchens to which I’m privy. When the time comes for me to renovate my own French kitchen, these are the rules upon which I’ll absolutely rely:
- French kitchen have doors, are closed to the rest of the house; open concept kitchen are called “cuisines américaines” in France.
- Because so few French family have a washer and dryer (the French hang dry their clothes for the most part), their washing machine or in some cases their two-in-one machine is in the kitchen.
- French kitchens have large French doors, or French windows that open wide with no screens.
- French kitchens flaunt a great deal of wood.
- French kitchens have very often mustard yellow or cream colored walls of a thick stucco texture (because here the calls are a meter or more wide!).
- French kitchens boast large stone or parquet or terracotta floors.
- French kitchens almost always have a breakfast table in one corner or another.
- French kitchens have flowing drapes.
- French kitchens host big pieces of furniture as their cupboards; large buffets, wood tables, long wood work tables.
- French kitchens use a long, old, wooden, planked table as an island.
- French kitchens have a basket of straw laid out on a shelf where the eggs are kept.
- A rooster is almost always present in some form or another.
- Exposed thick wooden beams in the ceiling are quite common.
- A large stand-along stove with hood is a given; such as a Lacanche or a Cornue.
- French kitchens have a wrought-iron light fixture or pot rack hanging from the ceiling with copper pots suspended.
- French kitchens are very likely to harbor a close affiliation with sunshine/natural light.
- French kitchens go hand in hand with linen; tablecloths, napkins, drapery.
- French kitchens put their dishes on display.
- French kitchens have large sinks; porcelain, trough-style or stone.
- French kitchens have a large pantry and/or an entrance to the wine cellar/cold storage.
- Antique objects like an ancient balance or what looks like your grandmothers cooper pot for preserves.
- French kitchens have high ceilings.
- French kitchens have fresh herbs growing in the window or just outside the door.
- French kitchens have nooks and crannies; small places where the phone sits or a chair or a little table just for the grandmother cookbooks.
- Unless absolutely impossible, French kitchen love a fireplace.
- And, French kitchens feel rather bare without fresh-cut flowers and blows of fruit on the counter.
Here are a few pictures I’ve been able to find that actually look like the French kitchens I know and love. I’ve also included a few of my mom’s renovation, her newly christened French kitchen.
*Most pictures curiosity of www.remodelingmyspace.com and http://www.thekitchendesigner.org. Many thanks for helping me put an image to my thoughts on French kitchens. Your designs are authentic and beautiful.
This slide show has all the pictures above plus several more!