He Loves The Phony French Country Kitchens



I received this email recently regarding French Country Kitchens:



Sorry, Ms. Bern

but your article on 12 kitchen trends was impossibly subjective!


The ornate French Country kitchens were spectacular and there was not a square foot that wasn’t visually beautiful.


It’s a matter of taste.

The simple “French Provencal” example was charming, too, and both styles should be appreciated. Designers think they have re-invented the wheel with the white shaker cabinets, white marble top trend. 10 years before that it was all about dark cabinets, granite countertops, that are now looked upon with disdain. What’s next?

I’ve done real estate speculating on houses for 35-years and seen it all come and go and come and go.

My last purchase was a deck house from the mid-seventies. The cabinets were in a dark, flush mahogany design with staple-shaped, stainless steel pulls. The cabinets stayed and the only change was replacing the orange Formica countertop with white Silestone.

I wasn’t going to be coerced into the new mantra of “Granite or go home”. It paid off. By the mid twenty-first century, ignorant young buyers will point to anything brass and utter “Gold…I hate gold.”


Never mind that brass has been around since the time of the pharaohs.


The metal was an affront to their ‘refreshing’, newly formed opinions of what was right or wrong.

Now ‘gold’ is back, reinterpreted in a softer finish to save decorating-trend-sheep– Sorry, meant savvy followers!- from lapsing into PTSD convulsions. Its gotten pretty silly, or maybe as I get older, the decades fly by, blurring into a single moment of short-term memory loss in home buyers.

And don’t get me started on open-plan living where every dirty pot and pan is on view for the guest’s admiration. I mean, why trouble yourself with high-end materials if everything is going to be splattered with spaghetti sauce?

BTW, GOLD has never gone well with gray, no matter how you finish it. Other than that, your website is visually very informative and appealing.



Oh dear… You know when someone starts a note with “sorry,” it means that they’re about to contradict you. And I don’t mind being contradicted by someone, but only when they know what they’re talking about.

Unfortunately, it sounds to me like Rob missed the point of that post which talks about my philosophy of kitchens and design as a whole.


And not to single Rob out, because I believe that a lot of people think like this, which is why I’m tackling this subject of French Country Kitchens.

It is not a matter of taste; it’s a matter of authenticity.

(you can tweet that)


And in this case, I’m talking about “French Country Kitchens” which is one of the most misused terms in interior design– ever.


I can see that you guys look a little shell-shocked which means that you must have some questions, so please fire away.


  • What goes into an authentic French Country Kitchen?
  • And how is one supposed to differentiate between French country kitchens, English country kitchens, Italian country kitchens?
  • And American country kitchens for that matter.
  • What period of history do we need to go back to?
  • Plus, what about today? Isn’t there room for interpretation?
  • Can we mix different styles or is that a no, no?


Well, those are all terrific questions. So, to begin, let’s go back in time to the 17th-19th centuries to see what French Country Kitchens looked like.


Jean-Baptiste_Siméon_Chardin_017 - 1738 woman cleaning turnips - early French Country KitchensJean-Baptiste_Siméon_Chardin_017 – 1738 woman cleaning turnips


Not much to see here except a woman who looks like she’s about to dig the knife into her wrist. But fine. French Country kitchens must’ve been pretty basic.



You just know that her feet are killing her. Love the buffet! That would be in the French Louis XV style.


Sorry, that’s in Swedish. You get it. She’s ladling the soup. I wish there was more to see, though. And yes, it’s not French, but, for our purposes, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

That is because most people don’t know what French Country Kitchens are, or any of the European Countries. And for the most part, they were much the same. And even in the same country, there were differences. I guess what I mean, is that the differences are more regional than country specific.

“The Cherry Girl” (1875) by Joseph Caraud (1821-1905)

“The Cherry Girl” (1875) by Joseph Caraud (1821-1905)


It’s like she just realized that she’ll always be serving the cherries, not eating them.


Joseph Bail, né à Limonest (Rhône) 1862- 1921 - "The serving Maid

Joseph Bail, né à Limonest (Rhône) 1862- 1921 – “The serving Maid

This one knows her place. Ahhh.. I see a glimpse of a Country French style armoire in the background.


Well, we’ve already been through this.

The kitchens of 100 years ago or more were completely different than they are now.


I wonder what those maids would think if they walked in and saw this.


horrible over-the-top-ersatz-meaning-fake-french-country-kitchen


And this is why I’m talking about this subject again.


French Country Kitchens


I can’t tell you the number of times, I had a prospective client on the other end of the phone line and I would hear, in a voice identical to Fran Drescher—


“I want a French Country Kitchen.”


OR, she wants to do the entire home in “French Country.”

And there’s no way to say this without sounding like a self-aggrandizing, arrogant bitch but to say that I am quite sure that she has no idea what she’s talking about.

Because if she did, it would mean that she wants a kitchen that looks something like this.


Domenica More Gordon, an artist’s house in Scotland. | Bible of British Taste-corner cabinet -bowl collection


And I knew good and well that she would rather bungee jump with a frayed cord down a 200 foot cliff than have a kitchen that looks like this. :]


ersatz French Country KitchenShe wants this.

And since I don’t do “this,” I need to gracefully bow out. But, if you have “this,” and I know that some of you do, please know that I still love you. There’s nothing wrong with this kitchen. It’s classic American misinformation, that’s all.


And by the way, the two images above this one are not French Country, but they could be.


They are from the most interesting artist in Scotland, Domenica More Gordon. And I got the images from Ruth Guilding’s Bible of British Taste which should be required weekly reading for all Americans starting the day they begin eating solid food.

So, Laurel… Are you saying that French Country Kitchens mean that you need to make a big bloody mess and have all of your shit  stuff lying around?


my bedroom dresser, a big bloody mess-cleaning out drawers

You mean like this?




Oh, calm the freak down. I was cleaning out my entire dresser the other day which was long over-due. The reason will be very clear come Sunday.

But, I will respect the 25% of you who are neat-freaks. I know that because about 2,500 of you filled out a survey several months ago and 75% you are slobs of one degree or another and 25% are neat-freaks.

And NO. I have no idea who said what. The survey was completely anonymous!


But getting back to our subject; No, French Country Kitchens don’t mean that you need to have everything out, but that’s a helluva lot closer to authentic Country French Kitchens than some plastic, fake, disproportionate, carved up the wazoo, design masquerading as something it’s not.


It’s not anything– except bad design.

And Rob, I am not sorry! It is NOT a matter of taste.

There is good design and bad design. But not all good design is to my liking. That, is a matter of taste.

However, all bad design is subjecting itself to my intense scrutiny and ridicule. That is because I am aiming to rid the world of BAD DESIGN.

Do some people disagree with my categorization of good and bad design.

Of course. :]


BUT… Please note. I said DESIGN. And design is not a PERSON. I do not attack, ridicule and shame people. Well, not publicly, and not to their face or in writing (unless they do something objectionable to me, personally.)

I only ask, the same of all of you lovely readers. Feel free to disagree, but I’m not into debate, or being told off which happens too frequently.

Thank you for your understanding. xo

And, if any of you wish to have bad design in your home, I am totally fine with that.

But, the point is that Americans in particular have become so indoctrinated with the false, faux (the bad kind of faux) and just plain wrong that we don’t know what is right.

By the way, not all English people like to have all of their stuff out. In fact, from what I observed when I was there last October, most of them are quite tidy. but we’ll be addressing uhhh, tidiness over the weekend. (brace yourselves)


Well, where does that leave us, Laurel?


That’s a very good question.


I think that we Americans need to loosen up and 86 (get rid of) some or all of the upper cabinets IF the kitchen is large enough and/or we can eliminate some counter space. Floor to ceiling cabinets are great. Pantries are too. There WILL be enough storage. In fact, MORE storage, if we can get rid of the copious number of counters. Easier to keep clean too! (for great kitchen storage ideas, click here)


But let’s call it a French or English “inspired” kitchen, perhaps.


And if you like the word country, because it sounds more charming, then sure. Call it whatever you like. French Country, English Country, Italian Country, Botswana Country. I don’t care. Country is country!

It boils down to this: I think that we like to put our designs into nice, neat, tidy packages. Did people 200 years ago, say. “I want a Country French Kitchen?”

No, it was just “kitchen.”


Here are some things that your French Country inspired kitchen might have. But really, there are no hard and fast rules.



photograph - Simon Watson French Country Kitchen with French Limestone
photo by Simon Watson – Kitchen belonging to Frederic Fekkai.


If, I had to say what the quintessential French Country kitchen looked like, this would be it. But this is not going to fly with most Americans. They will think that it’s too rough and dirty looking.

But hey, it’s the COUNTRY! And it’s in the old country. Things are old and dirty and that’s the way they like it.

I do too. I love decayed surfaces!


photograph - Simon Watson French Country Kitchen with French Limestone - French Country Kitchens

Maison Creative

This is another one that embodies, IMO the feeling of an authentic 21st century French Country Kitchen.

Sharon Santoni

And this one too.

photo: Benjamin Edwards Neptune Kitchens - Country French Kitchens

photo: Benjamin Edwards for Neptune Kitchens

This might be more English, but I love the juxtaposition of materials

Photo- Oberto Gili -peregalli-saint-moritz-switzerland - french country kitchens

Photo-Oberto-Gili-Design- Studio Peregalli

This one has the feeling of Provence without being over-the-top-cutesy-toiled-to-death. Not that there’s anything wrong with toile. But in some cases, it’s become too predictable and that is when I think that interior design can become stale.

Architecture-Bobby McAlpine - Interior Design-Ray Booth - photo - Peter Estersohn-dramatic - Country French inspired kitchen - la cornue range - iron windows doors

Bobby McAlpine and Ray Booth

I’ve long been a fan of Bobby McAlpine and associates. If you are too or think you might be, click here for more.

Above and below Sacris Design

Love this fresh kitchen pantry with Raphael Wallpaper by Sandberg.

You can see it in different colorways here and here.

Jeannette-Whitson linen-skirting-counter-French Country Kitchen inspired

Jeannette Whitson

See more of Jeanette here here and here.

Minnie Peters Modern French Country kitchensMinnie Peters

Fabulous designer. Love her work!

Neptune kitchen - contemporary French Country kitchen
This last kitchen by Neptune Kitchens, to me embodies the spirit of the modern French Country Kitchen. It is beautifully proportioned, airy, highly functional, sleek, easy-on-the-eyes.

And I dare-say that if a French maid from the 19th century walked in…

She would say… “Vraiment Cool!”




PS: The Serena and Lily 20% off sitewide sale is ending at 11:59 PM Pacific Time – tonight. the 29th of May 2018. (use code: SUMMERDAYS) So, if you’re interested in taking advantage, please click the link.


8th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2021 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

134 Responses

  1. Thank you. That’s how I found you! There is too much French Country. Searching for fabrics, furniture, storage and finding stuff categorized French Country. The Brits designed Toile and the French mass-produced it. Don’t want wood cutters, dogs, cows, birds, or chickens on my fabrics! I have an upstairs rental apartment that was designed and remodeled by a man who doesn’t cook or bake, or have much need for closet space. The bathroom sink/vanity is about 24” wide. I do love the (ground floor) one-piece armoire. Blog, blog, blog.

  2. This post actually convinced me that the fake French Country is awesome. Because what would that little maid think if she saw it? She would think, “I am a queen. A queen who cooks.”

    But they should take it to its logical conclusion and paint everything light blue and pink, gild it, add a chandelier and put cherub murals on the ceiling.

  3. I keep coming back to this post because I love it! It’s fascinating, and you write with such deft insightfulness, Laurel, it makes learning with you such joy.

    Hope your head is recovering!

  4. Oh my goodness. This is my favorite blog post from anyone, ever. You said exactly what I’ve always felt. Thanks for putting it all so brilliantly!!!

  5. The timing of this post is unreal- my kitchen is in drywall phase of reno and my inspiration was the Federick Fekkai kitchen. Trying to describe to cabinet people and others – “French/Belgian, authentic, organic, natural, casual, old world (real)” didn’t get me far. While I can’t afford my clear vision for the project, I’m doing everything I can to create AUTHENTICITY. No ceramic roosters or crazy cabinet details. No speckally granite, all quiet colors and old materials (except for the floor, stone would just be too hard, cold and unforgiving to my 1880 subfloor).

    I agree with you entirely about this topic. If you’re gonna call it something, try to make it that, not some random bastardization. That said, I also agree with the writer of said letter- if I see another white shaker, gray wanna be carrara quartz combo…it’s going to be the cherry cab/black/pasty red counter version of the 2000’s. I want my kitchen to look like part of the house that we live in and can cook too:)

    1. Hi Lori,

      Thanks so much for all of that! And yes, anything can be taken too far. I’ve written a lot of posts and there have been a lot of comments. Not everyone is comfortable with marble but I fully get what you mean.

  6. That lovely white kitchen from Neptune – given there’s an Aga in it, I’d suggest it was more British than French, hehe.

  7. Laurel, I always pore over your posts even if they don’t seem immediately relevant to me. Our styles are a bit divergent, owing to the fact that I have a lodge-like abode in the Rockies. But your posts are always enlightening & full of wonderful tidbits- such as that little pic of the darling, detailed undercounter skirt. Pleated and on rings! Little design nuggets like that can transform a space, and your posts seem always to brim over with them. Most of your concepts are applicable in many settings, and though I don’t know much about interior design, I agree that authenticity is key, at least for me. I’m so over chasing trends. So please keep up the good work. I’m sure that writing an in-depth post is not easy, but it is so appreciated. And if someone doesn’t like your opinion, well, there are lots of other people to read- isn’t the internet a wonderful thing!

  8. Laurel I am constantly entertained and educated by your marvelous posts. I could not agree with you more regarding the “French Country” design disasters! Thank you again for sharing with the world your knowledge, insights and humor. Where would any of us be without humor?
    Haters gonna hate. Pray for them:)

  9. Hi Laurel,
    I love the pair of chandeliers in the photo you shared from Minnie Peters. Any idea who makes them?

  10. Laurel…. All I have to say is “PRAISE JESUS!” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For finally calling out the American bastardization of French, Italian, Spanish, English kitchens. I personally hate the over done interpretation declared as authentic. I wish billboards declaring the clear difference could be erected all over America as a re-education effort. In the mean time, your blog will do. Thank you!!

  11. Laurel, thanks for covering one of my favorite subjects. Years ago (pre-internet) I discovered the British version of Country Living magazine. It has evolved over the years but in general includes functional kitchens that reflect the personalities of their owners. But almost all have Shaker style cabinets with simple knobs. I just fell in love with that look so incorporated it into my kitchen, I guess I have my own interpretation of that look as practicality and budget allows. I’m sure some people that visit don’t “get it” but it makes me happy. I really enjoy your blog and the links to more great inspiration.

  12. Hi Laurel,

    I just signed up for your blog not knowing what I was going to find and I’m laughing so hard I have fallen on the floor. You are funny, honest, LOVE your attitude and your design sense. Looking forward to seeing much more!

    Thank you for being refreshing…..Marian

  13. Thank you for enlightening me. Now I know I don’t want a truly French Kitchen, I want a modern French Kitchen! I don’t like stone floors (too hard on the body), I don’t like open shelving (too dusty – get it from my Mom, she cleaned with a toothbrush) and I personally don’t want glass doors in my kitchen ( everything has to match and look neat)!!!

    Love your blog and agree with you!

  14. Dear Laurel,
    I did not read all the other comments so forgive me if this has has been said…
    As an O L D interior designer as compared to you, the spring chicken, I felt the “French Country ” kitchen might have been akin to the 50s–60s French Country bedroom sets!!! Everyone had one!!! What do you think?? Keep up the great work. I enjoy it very much. Linda

  15. Laurel,
    I love your stylish and witty blog. As an ardent francophone, I share your sentiments on assorted faux pas in the “French Country” genre. Your blog has provided many helpful suggestions as we begin remodeling our kitchen/dining area. Use of color, materials, lighting, proportions, the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, your practical wisdom has already saved me from myself several times. Count me grateful!

  16. Interesting article and comments. I just read something that somewhat relates to this. There is a blog called McMansion Hell, and there is a reprint of a recent blog post on Curbed.com. I always enjoy your perspective and great photos. Especially the art.

  17. Yeesh! Talk about mansplaining. Someone (not in the trade)) telling an interior designer she doesn’t know interior design. You handled that better than I would have. Please keep up the informative posts.

    Ps – I remember reading you were having trouble looking for a contractor and then suddenly you had one for your bedroom. Any chance you have some advice on hiring reliable contractors? Thanks

    1. Hi Nikki,

      Honestly, I don’t have advice on hiring contractors. My clients always hired them, on their own. Sometimes I was able to give a rec, but ultimately it was their decision.

  18. Well you hit the nail on the head here Laurel. I’d rather see bad design that is authenticate and not some disneyesque interpretation of a country or period in decor history. LOL My house is a work in progress and is not designy. It’s everything I’ve collected and loved for many years. I don’t like pigeon holing in design. You know, french country,minimalist,boho (hate that one), modern, english country,southwestern, hotel, and whatever else is being shilled as a must have. When I look at a collected home like Furlough I swoon. The thing is his house works because it is a visual interpretation in 3d of who he is. I like that. It’s a shame that many folk don’t dare to show their personality in their home.

  19. Thank you for yet another lovely post! Ever since I was 18 or so, I’ve dreamt of having a REAL French country kitchen. I used to tell people, “Not the fancy over the top French country. A REAL kitchen like you would legitimately find in the countryside of France, with a big hearth and all.” I’m 32 now and have yet to have that dream kitchen, but one day, perhaps. And thanks to all your amazing posts on it, I’m reminded of my love for them and won’t get too distracted by the trends of the day.

  20. You need to do the how to decorate an elevator post! I need this! Maybe on April Fool’s, but still.

  21. Spot on Laurel!
    I am a designer that spends much time in Europe each year, and not in hotels, in friends homes…..and…..we go visiting to their friends homes. so, I’m saying I have seen many a European kitchen. you nailed it!

    we can be inspired by these kitchens and emulate aspects of their spaces, careful not to say designed, as most are not, but know what you are talking about.
    the imperfections of European kitchens is what makes them charming, something few Americans would tolerate

  22. Thank you Laurel =
    The beautiful buffet in one of the painting illustrations is a “I want it”
    Many many years ago there was one so much like it but quite large, I had worked with the antique dealer many times and he always gave fair prices to me. I told him I would think about it and get back with him. The place burned down that weekend.

  23. Thanks for the (self-reported) statistic on clean -25%- versus slob -75%. I am not perfect but certainly fit into the 25% and have recently started cleaning other people’s homes. All except one is clean already when I get there. I am just getting dust, dog hairs and a few smudges. It’s so strange. Two have light cabinets, three have dark builder-type kitchens and honestly the dark do look very dated to me even though they are in perfect shape. Styles are a shame that way. Ah, human nature!

  24. Thank you for another delightful post, Laurel! yeah..I also like things being authentic..or at least not pretentious..erzatz irritates me, in any form.. and I do love decay. Well I love many things, but I strangely love decay.

    (I think the genetleman writing wasn’t trolling(trolling doesn’t involve much feeling or real involvement on a troll’s part, troll manipulates) or hating..it’s because you write so well, Laurel, there is this connection with readers is born, and one wants to continue the conversation.
    And nowadays social media perhaps is too confusing, leaving many with blurred definitions on where to take such conversation.
    Different platforms with different unspoken rules, one needs to be there for a while to figure it out.. option to leave comments almost under every article out there(very strange to me)..I believe newsletters, radio, and TV programs get letters too:) Maybe they get tons, what do I know. And of course there are mean people among them..statistically, should be. Here though I think: somebody was really touched by your post, even though he didn’t fully understand it, and he wanted to disagree, to continue a conversation, why in personal mail? beats me, frankly, but not everybody gets how format works. I agree with one of the previous posters: we see so many peeople who offend/are easily offended..but it’s maybe our tenfold- widened possibility to see this, due to Internet. People are quite a sensitive bunch when it comes to them..:) When it’s about others-they keep their cool:) Not everybody of course, but it’s not new to our epoch.
    okay so I’m not sure that wasn’t very long OT..
    In short I’m very glad I don’t have any blog lol, but can be a happy reader of yours.

  25. Laurel,
    You know I am 100% in agreement with you on the ersatz Country! I loved the beautiful photos you showed in this post, as usual! Looking forward to Sunday’s post!

  26. I Love You!!!
    Terrific and newsworthy content.
    As always, Thank You for keeping us informed and up to date.
    Allowing us the tools to help guide us, and not put our foot in our mouths!! I mean, is everyone named Rob a pretentious Taurus??!

    Keep it going Laurel!


  27. I won’t dare wade off into who is wright or wrong, as I think all that is bad taste anyway. One person trying to impose their views on others comes across as a bit haughty. Not everyone has the funds to rip everything out and start over and because cabinets are essential, they paint them and make the most of it.
    I can totally understand what he is saying. If you like it, then get it. Time will tell if it will still be lovely 25 years from now. And if if doesn’t, maybe the funds will be there then to rip it out and start over. The important thing is that it is your home and you are the only person you’re trying to please, no matter what anyone else says or thinks.

  28. Loved this post and your reply to the reader. Your use of art to illustrate some of your points was just fabulous and also made me chuckle ! I love that about your blog. I learn so much from you Laurel, even if my house doesn’t reflect all that I’ve learned. But I too hate all that faux style. If only I had discovered your blog earlier than I did and hadn’t made so many mistakes !

  29. Careful, you may start a trend for tree-stump chopping blocks next. Who knew that was just what my kitchen’s turnip-peeling corner needed?

    When we moved into our house 15 years ago, the kitchen cabinet hinges (which were visible) were an antiqued brass, but the handles were a very shiny 80s looking lacquered brass. Since we were limiting our remodeling to changing out the pink formica countertops, I found some very simple antiqued brass handles for the cabinets. When a friend came to see the kitchen and I spoke about remodeling, her first comment was, “you can just change the handles!” Of course, I had already just changed the handles, ha ha. That was in the “TIme of Nickel Finishes.” I kept the antiqued brass handles, and now, I am seeing antiqued style brass again in some magazines. So your letter-writer does have a point, everything that goes around comes around. However, sometimes, things (like over the top French Country or Tuscan, or brass handles, perhaps) shouldn’t come around again!

    Sometimes I have thought that we should call the styles American French Country and American Tuscan, because one key difference with the European kitchens and our versions is the American giant items we like to incorporate, like huge fridges, dishwashers, islands, two sinks, microwaves, two or more ovens, etc.

  30. Names names. Just call it a fancy kitchen with curlicues. I was shocked in the 80s when I took my country self to the big city to go into a “Country” decor store. Never saw so much stupid crap in my life and certainly not in a functioning country home. Then the infection spread to co-opting the names of French Italian and English Country whenever the urge to justify encrusting the kitchen with style du jour. it’s all nonsense. Doesn’t matter except we need to call it something. And a historical kitchen style is also nonsense here in the burbs. Most historic kitchens are indoor/ outdoor btw, cuz you need to drip blood somewhere…. I need my electricity and running water ya know? Everything goes out of style except functionality.

  31. I moved from FL to NJ last Aug. into my daughter and son-in-law’s home; the “elderly” sometimes need to do that. We three get along well together and fortunately, daughter and I have similar creative artistic desires regarding decorating. We were able to blend 90% of my stuff with their stuff and eliminating (give away/store) what was left, which we are still plugging away the boxes.
    BUT, the house was built in 1949 (and looks it). It is split-level (steps everywhere), having a deplorable layout and constructed of parts and pieces leftover from the others homes in this development, I’m sure. Then if that wasn’t enough, former owners put their inept “improvements” in it, and on it, leaving chaos in their wake.
    I came across your newsletter by chance, and have enjoyed each and every one of them. I have gotten many ideas from your site and just wish I could afford to have you orchestrate our decorating and such. Actually, tear-down and reconstruction are eventually in the future for the main bathroom and kitchen…but until then, what a dis-jointed configuration this place is.
    I am trying to update rooms as much as I can using your site as to layout and placement of our tchotchkes. It has been fun for me while daughter and son-in-law are working. They are impressed and appreciate having me doing things instead of an old lady watching the tele all day.

    1. Hi Ina,

      I’ve seen those homes built in the 40s. We had an entire community of them built around a little lake where I used to live. They looked like they made up the design of the house as they went along!

      You’re so lucky to be able to live with your kids. And I’m sure that they appreciate you too!

  32. To those that send mean emails: My momma always said, if you can’t say anything nice….
    And my .02, if you say something critical, you better have a suggestion or a plan to fix it!
    And just be kind…
    Sorry stepping off soapbox.
    We are in the process of re-doing a 30 year old kitchen. Certainly eye-opening on all the choices re finishes, cabinet and counter options, storage etc. I am learning a lot from your posts. Thank you!

  33. Wonderful, informative post, Laurel! I am now wishing we would have gone for a triple (or more) window over the sink rather than the double and nixed the upper cabinets. I didn’t want to go the the shelves route because I am one of those “neat freaks” and it just looks like clutter to me. But your post showed how beautiful the look is without the shelves all the “farmhouse” kitchens are into. I really appreciate all your research and all the laughs that accompanied the pictures. A great way to begin my day.

  34. HI Laurel,

    You are so right–the fake kitchens are horrifying. I’m not sure I’ve always felt that way about them, but as my taste has changed and simplified over time, I’ve realized what an error they are.

    But those authentic kitchens are sublime! I would have any of them in a heartbeat, were I to start over.

    Love your posts! I learn so much. I hope I don’t have any bad design in my house.

    1. Hi Connie,

      And no bother if you do have some bad design. I certainly have plenty that’s not ideal. It never will be; and that’s okay!

  35. When I saw the title of your post, I almost felt sorry for the guy… I mean he DOES read this blog, he should’ve known what he was getting himself into…. haha.

    Our stereotypical vinyl subdivision house is filled with bad design (dining room and bedroom “sets” and a craptastic builder kitchen with fully functional formica). And sometimes when I read your posts it does sting a little to know how wrong I’ve gotten things over the years…BUT…

    What I learn from you may not eliminate the sets or the craptastic, but might make working around it a little better. And when we finally DO readdress our kitchen, you’ve opened up a whole new world of options that will likely be the heart of any redo.

    1. Hi Em,

      I invite you on Sunday to come and take a close look at what will feel like me, parading around in ripped undies. No worries, that is only a metaphor! lol

      And I realize that there are people who have decor that I think are not ideal, but when it comes down to it, who cares? What I mean is, in the scheme of things, it’s way down on the list of priorities which are as Suzie Orman always says– “People first, then money, then things.” Decorating, of course is “things.”

  36. I think the gentleman who trolled you is missing the point…the real”sheeples” he refers to are the developers who built these new homes with massed produced, badly-designed, inauthentic faux kitchens. Someone started this awful trend and have sold buyers on it for years! As he says, there is a lot of design that has come and gone over his 35 years…and GONE permanently. For good reason. Thank you, Laurel, for taking a stand and educating the rest of us on good taste and good design. And I agree with your germ theory. I’m one of those neat freaks, but I never use anything anti-bacterial!

    1. Hi Bobbie,

      Thank you for all of that. We will be discussing home maintenance or lack of it and where readers fall short and where they succeed.

      And especially for the neat-freaks, explain for us not-so-neat, how you do it.

      1. I find that cleaning the kitchen is easier if I take a moment to get pots soaking, or wipe a counter before I begin another step or dish. This prevents things from drying on surfaces and adhering like concrete!

        1. That’s great advice Lisa. My problem is not cleaning so much as stuff. If it is out, then I know where it is. Oh, I know, “everything in its place…” :]

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Mimi’s website and I found her on instagram and I was already following her… but… you don’t always get to see who you really would like to see, so I liked a couple of her images, so that hopefully, she’ll show up in my feed now.

  37. Good morning Laurel,
    I love when I can start my day with reading your blog posts. There’s always something to learn as well as something beautiful to see.
    It’s really foggy here in NYC this morning and you brightened my day!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Hello from Bronxville! It says that you wrote this two hours ago and I don’t see any fog out my window, so hopefully yours has gone away.

  38. I agree entirely with Fenella: ain’t no such thing! In France today, there are French kitchens in houses in the country, and they are immensely variable, depending on geographical location and when the last renovation took place.
    And don’t forget that paintings like those of Chardin may appear to show a domestic reality, but in fact are somewhat prettied-up, in a culinary version of the pastoral. And in the C19, we’re in full nostalgia for the non-existent: you have only to observe the fruit in the next to last painting in the first series to see that this is idealized — cherries and grapes don’t come in together, even in modern France.
    Thank you, Laurel, for bringing in the word “authenticity”. How can a “French country kitchen” be authentic in the US? There’s also the authenticity of use: I wonder so often when I see photos of smart kitchens whether any cooking goes on in them. The Neptune kitchen is a case in point: framed photos behind the stove top? In my kitchen, that means washing them daily (same thing for rugs on the floor) — and a stone wall will produce tons of dust! I too like a worn look, but not the grime of ages…

  39. I don’t like deliberate decorating because I can’t help believing that it is more about impressing the neighbors and guests than just creating a comfortable tidy pretty home. These kitchens of today are large enough to literally feed an army and so copycat sameness of follow the current fads and trends. Also about the nasty stuff I was shocked at the vitriol directed at the bloggers I follow-the reader gets free info,wit,humour and diversion and they have so many complaints and ” I don’t like the ads” “I had to wait several minutes for the ads to clear” my my what a busy bee you must be. I wonder if the nastiness filling our social media is really from a sinister source that really does want to inspire nasty-ness and division? I wouldn’t doubt it- I’m 78 and I have never seen people so discourteous, ready to offend and be easily offended.

  40. Hmmm…my kitchen has copious amounts of storage and miles of counter and I use every inch of both. (And, yes, it’s hard to keep clean.) However, it is bad design in every respect because I had a budget, and functionality was more important to me than style. Thankfully, since this is our forever home, I don’t have to worry about resale.
    I would love to have a real french country kitchen IF I had a french country HOUSE and a french country lifestyle. I don’t understand why anyone would want a french country kitchen if they don’t live in the french countryside.
    I agree with your characterization of faux french country.

    1. Hi Bianca,

      Well, I think you hit on something that I didn’t come right out and say, but yes, it does sound a little pretentious– especially with a Fran Drescher heavy-Queens New York, acent!

  41. Fab post as usual!!! Design atrocities are fun and painful at the same time. Making good fun means you have to look at them! And oh, the historical inaccuracies! Thanks for bringing it all back down to historical appropriateness. But it’s easy to get lost here in North America where our history is so short! Keep preachin’ and teachin’ Laurel!

    1. Hi Danielle,

      I never thought about that before, but at the time of our founding fathers, like George Washington and esp Thomas Jefferson, was the zenith of neo-classical design in the western world. And that design IS definitely a part of our heritage as there is exquisite architecture all over the eastern seaboard.

      But as Americans went west, it all went to hell in wheelbarrow, I guess. Not that there isn’t good design in other parts of the country. But the history isn’t as prevalent. And there’s also a lot of atrocious design on the east coast too. oh well…

  42. Laurel,

    I’m a newcomer to your blog and I just wanted to chime in with the others to say how much I enjoy your writing. I read your posts even when they don’t really apply to my house just because I know I’m going to learn (and laugh!)

    1. Thanks so much Jane and welcome! I try to mix things up and stick to topics that have fairly wide appeal. Once in a while someone wants me to write about something that isn’t going to apply to most people, like decorating a one-family home elevator. haha. I do have a friend who has one. It’s a verrry big old home with four floors. I don’t think she uses it though.

  43. Yay! Bravo! Its nice that someone, and I mean YOU, wrote about this topic! I could never figure out what people wanted when they said “french country”. I could not thinkg of anyone better to talk on this then you either. Why? Because you had be rolling while reading. I especially, liked the knife in the wrist part. Anyway, thanks again!

  44. I would never remove my upper cabinets where I store things close to where I use them. Open shelves? Never. I don’t want to have to rinse dusty dishes before use. Bending to lower cabinets hurts my aging back. I love my pantry but don’t want to always carry things. I’m old and lazy. If we all liked and wanted the same thing your blog wouldn’t be nearly so interesting.

    Laurel, I love your humor and art. One request: could you put a “return to the top” arrow at the bottom of the page? Also, is there a list of all your posts? I want to read them all!

    1. Hi Jeannie,

      I don’t know what you mean by a return to the top arrow. What device are you looking on. All you need to do is scroll up.

      You can find all of the old blog posts in two ways. One is there’s an archive folder in the blog sidebar, but you need to scroll pretty far down. If you are on a mobile device, you’ll need to look in the menu which is the three lines at the top of the page.

      Or, you can go to the main blog page, but again, this is only on desktop or tablet and you can see each page with a number of posts. And the pages are numbered.

      1. Hi Jeannie,

        I see what you mean now. But you don’t need to scroll. Just mouse over the scroll bar, on the right, then click in that area until you see the bar and then drag it up to the top. Just takes a second.

        I don’t think the option of an arrow is available with my theme, in any case.

  45. Oh I hate that you get hate mail Laurel!!! So not right. And I agree with you wholeheartedly on the beautiful rusticity of these kitchens and we Americans would flip out if we had a kitchen that looked “dirty”. Keep spreading the gospel…..can’t wait to see your new room. 😁

    1. Hi Genie,

      I have a theory, which of course is only that. But, the reason so many people get sick is because there isn’t enough dirt. And I don’t really mean dirt, but I mean this obsession with making everything “germ free.” It’s not impossible, anyway, but it’s the thing that is causing more illnesses than it’s preventing. And maybe it’s the culprit behind things like peanut allergies. Our immune systems have become the most delicate hot house flowers, so that when something big comes along, we can’t tolerate it.

      1. My functional medicine doctor told me the same thing and he believes that is why we have so many autoimmune disorders. 🙁

  46. Hello laurel – from hot Texas – love your blog and thought of Mimi thorisson of the manger blog when you mention French country kitchens – Mimi lives in medoc France – now that’s a French country kitchen! The photography in her blog is breathtaking –
    Have a great summer and look forward to reading your blog always.

    1. Hi again Pam. There was another mention of Mimi, and I just checked and I was already following her but insta hasn’t been showing me her beautiful images. I need to follow her blog too! Just gorgeous!

  47. Laurel,
    I know you know the answer to this visual problem..
    Please think about doing something around the topic of what to do about showers in powder rooms..they don’t look good.. so cover them up with what, or what?

    1. Hi Carol,

      Well, if it has a shower, then I probably wouldn’t call it a powder room. Right? But if I’m wrong, someone correct me. But I gather that it’s a very small room with a toilet, sink and shower stall. Can’t see the configuration, but a curtain should work. And it can be one that is longer than the typical. Maybe a curtain panel would work, with a liner of course.

    2. I just had to comment, Carol! In a previous house, we had an extra-large “powder room” on the 1st floor and really needed an extra shower in the house. I just got the cheapest fiberglass surround and plastic curtain for the shower and then put a real interior door on it, like a closet. It looked like the room had two broom closets. That whole bath was sheathed in fir beadboard and the doors were fir too. I always thought that was genius!

      1. Hi Susan,

        That sounds wonderful. If you feel like it, please send me a couple pics to admin at laurel bern interiors dot com. I have to write it out like that because of spammers. :[

        1. Oh Laurel, I wish I could! We sold that house 10 years ago and I still regret it.

  48. Love your authentic examples. Is that a crocheted tea cozy in the first one? Sweet. I know how to crochet. My next house is going to be a farmhouse in an area where no one will care if I don’t put in a high-end conventional kitchen and it won’t be an issue on resale because I’ll be dead when it’s sold, or too old to care. Living in a “nice” neighborhood comes with some expectations on the state of your lawn and style of your indoor amenities, unfortunately. My last house had a faux Tuscan kitchen, not over the top as much as your examples, but replete with brown granite that clashed with the tumbled marble backsplash and glazed cabinets. Glad it’s someone else’s kitchen now.
    My new future kitchen will have lots of open storage, free standing tables for work surfaces, dressers and hutch tops and bowls and baskets and shelves for storage and general un-kitchen furnishings, convention be hanged. Thanks for this entertaining post!

    1. Hi Joanne,

      Yes! A tea cozy and I was going to mention it, but forgot when I got into my other bit about bungee jumping. haha.

      I’ve seen your old kitchen at least fifty times. The faux Tuscan is just as bad and also just as wrong as the faux French Country. But I had many more requests for French Country for some reason. Maybe it’s a regional thing.

  49. Ha! This was a good one, Laurel! High fives to you. I truly appreciate your mission to rid the world of bad design. Thank you. Even if I had the talent to research and write, I wouldn’t be able to stomach all the haters that come with blogging.
    And the photo of your dresser… oh, you are a human indeed! Your dresser and my buffet could be BFFs in their current states!
    Thank you for all of your beautiful work and all that you do to inspire and educate us who value traditional (and the modern takes on traditional), classic style and design.

  50. I so agree. My main problem with the really curly, carved kitchens is all the nooks and crannies to get grease off.

    The maid with the cherries has very modern looking jewellery, the latest fashion! My teen would like that necklace! Lol.

    1. Hi Running,

      Re: grease in Ns and Cs– ew. And funny about the necklace. I guess what they say is true. What’s old is new again!

  51. Wow Laurel, I am going to have to go back and look at this post for long while, some very pretty stuff.

    My heart skipped a beat when I read this-
    “I think that we Americans need to loosen up and 86 (get rid of) some or all of the upper cabinets…”

    Thank you Laurel! I can remove my upper cabinets and install Ikea shelves!! Maybe we should have a post about Scan design atrocities. I still want to do it though.

    Sign me baa baa brooke xo

    1. Hi Brooke,

      Is Scan, Scandinavian, or is it a typo? BTW, to be ultra-clear, some of us– myself included have to have upper cabinets. First of all, I like them in galley kitchens and mine are only on one side. It’s when there is 50 feet of counter space including the island. Nobody needs that much counter space!

      1. Yes! Scandinavian. I am curious about what it should look like. We finally have an Ikea in Wisconsin.

        I am sure that many people need their upper cabinets. My kitchen is not large but my upper cabinets are bulky and I think 9 shelves, 3 where each cabinet was might be better for us. The problem is finding brackets and shelves. I just found your unkitchen post and read it. Loved it thank you!

        Oh, an what is with all of the mushroom paint everywhere? I think it comes from Duvol mushroom cabinets. It most def isn’t smokey taupe as someone suggested, I tried that and it looks like flesh.

        Thanks for the fun post. It looks like you had to research and work many hours but I certainly appreciate it.

        1. Hi Brooke,

          Well, there’s Scandinavian and then there’s Gustavian and they’re two different things. And yes, the posts take a long time to produce but I enjoy it a lot!

        2. It has been my observation as a lay creature that “Scandinavian” is a catch-all that covers paint-every-surface-white and drape-dead-sheep artistically around the place. Scandinavia is even bigger than France and Britain …

  52. Sorry not sorry, right!

    I so agree with you, Laurel – it’s just as bad when they want English country (most would run screaming from St Ben’s Dorset kitchen).

    France and the UK et al are teeny tiny compared to the USA, but the shift in design elements as one drifts around those little countries are extraordinary. French country? There ain’t no such thing.

    (I just had a prospective landscaper tell me I wanted “modern English landscaping.” He didn’t get the job, pompous ass).

  53. Laurel, sorry to hear about all the miserable people out there who write mean spirited emails. It has become the norm now, and I just don’t understand it. You have spent a great deal of time educating us, and helping solve our design problems. If someone doesn’t like what you have to say, then just don’t read it. Anyway, just ignore mean spirited people as they are absolutely miserable or they wouldn’t be spending their time trying to make others feel miserable with them.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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