20 Timeless Kitchens – eh?
Nothing like going out on a long limb to say that a room that could very well cost you 10s of thousands, if not 100s of thousands of dollars, will be to your liking for the rest of your life.
After all, tastes change.
Well, they might, but I think that it depends on where one’s taste started.
For instance, a reader, we’ll call her “Marie,” might have a kitchen that looks like this.
Marie’s kitchen looks like this because that’s how her mother’s kitchen looks.
And, Marie’s mother-in-law’s kitchen, her four aunt’s kitchens, 11 cousins, two sisters, 18 BFFs, and Marie’s husband’s three ex-wives’ kitchens.
All of them have THIS kitchen. However, this is not one of the timeless kitchens. I would call it the generic late 20th-century kitchen.
And, since Mary’s been busy taking care of her quintuplets for nearly 18 years, spending most of her free-time purchasing
sucking-up gifts for 438 teachers for 13 years of five concurrent teachers’ conferences, etc.
Well, she certainly hasn’t had a moment to keep up with what’s going on in the outside world of classic kitchen design.
Frankly, the last thought on her mind is decorating– anything.
But, one evening balmy evening while the quints, now in their final year of high school, are out on a five-hour drunken prom night joy-ride, Marie took the opportunity to sit down and wait up for them. Surfing the Internet, Marie
stumbles upon, gets sucked into Laurel Bern’s decorating blog.
Before she knows it, she’s so immersed that she fails to notice three of the quints sneaking in the back door because they lost their shoes (and one, her dress) at some point.
Then, Mary happens upon an interesting word she’s never heard before.
And then Mary sees something that speaks to her like nothing ever has before, except when she nearly choked on a ring in her mashed potatoes, while her then-boyfriend proposed marriage was swearing his undying love to her.
Mary swooned and sighed over the timeless kitchens of her dreams, as they appeared one after another, after another on Laurel’s blog.
Unfortunately, Marie’s husband passed away suddenly one evening the following summer. Eighteen years of working three jobs caught up with the poor guy. However, Mary soon met a handsome, well-off man who genuinely adores her, and as soon as the quints graduated college, they got married and were very happy.
Fast forward, 15 years later…
Marie’s second husband bought her the house of her dreams for an anniversary present. But, it has a kitchen that looks like the one above, which won’t do. Thus, Marie reads all the Unkitchen posts on Laurel’s blog she had bookmarked for the last 15 years.
And, guess what? She loves each of those timeless kitchens the SAME as she did 15 years ago.
Only now, she has 22 grandchildren, including six sets of twins. So, she’s going to need to build an extra-large pantry. Click here to see 25 beautiful pantries.
Okay, haha! I hope you enjoyed that little story. Tastes CAN and do change. However, the moral of the story is: it depends where someone is starting from. Perhaps like Marie, they just didn’t know what they didn’t know. But, over time, they developed their sense of timelessness.
But, if you look at the masters of interior design who specialize in a timeless look and timeless kitchens, I think you’ll find that what they did 30 years ago is pretty much what they’re doing now.
A 128-year-old Furlow Gatewood will be doing the same thing in 30 years.
Furlow Gatewood’s timeless kitchen (unkitchen) with blue and white Chinoiserie transferware.
It’s not a fancy kitchen, but it’s unpretentiously dramatic and beautiful. That, to me, is one way a kitchen can be timeless.
Before we look at the rest of the timeless kitchens, we must first discuss what goes into a timeless kitchen.
It’s not enough to just look at a bunch of pretty pics and say, here it is.
But, please know that no bible states, “THIS is the only way to do a timeless kitchen.”
That’s because, above all ELSE, a timeless kitchen is personal. So, if you LOVE oak cabinets lining threes sides of your kitchen, that is YOUR timeless kitchen.
Therefore, please know, this is only my opinion which you don’t have to agree with. In addition, because of time constraints, this is not the definitive list of timeless kitchens. Frankly, I strive with most kitchens I post to put up those that I feel are timeless. That is unless I’m trying to show what I think you shouldn’t do, like in another favorite post about so-called French kitchens.
However, suppose you have a kitchen designer who presents a design she’s done 500 times before, and it’s the same kitchen that your closest 600 friends have. In that case, there’s a very good possibility that it will not be a classic, timeless kitchen.
Now, for those who are groaning that you can’t afford new cabinets or update your dated kitchen, here’s a good post that gives some good ideas about making it more timeless without spending a fortune.
I also feel that if you have an ancient kitchen, you’re in luck.
For a kitchen to be truly timeless, I feel that there needs to be some element(s) of history.
Does that mean that it has to be an old kitchen?
No, it doesn’t.
But, if it’s built in a traditional way and there are old things IN the kitchen, that’s all needed.
Above and below is a perfect example in Nancy Keyes’ kitchen. I think her vintage accents add so much. Although, it would be spectacular, in any case. For more of this kitchen and Nancy’s lovely home, click here.
A Timeless kitchen does not scream out KITCHEN!!!
What does that mean?
Nancy says that when guests come over, they frequently don’t realize that they are standing in the kitchen. But, timeless kitchens, if large enough, are places for gathering. And, sometimes that can include comfortable chairs or even a sofa as we saw in Ben Pentreath’s charming kitchen that I was lucky enough to spend an hour in a year and a half ago.
And, there is often beautiful free-standing furniture, like this dresser, above, on the right. That is, along with the art and accessories that make this room feel warm and homey.
The image above is another one I took during my visit to this incredibly charming home in Dorset, UK.
As discussed on this blog, there is often a lack of upper cabinets in an “unkitchen.” That is upper cabinets that go over counters.
However, if there are upper cabinets, in some timeless kitchens, corbels are used to give furniture feel to the cabinetry.
In addition, the separation of the uppers gives a more furniture feel to this wonderful kitchen.
However, every time I write about “no uppers,” there’s always at least one reader who interprets “no uppers” as nothing above waist height. But, it depends upon the size of the kitchen the availability of other storage, like a pantry. And always, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, I believe, are timeless.
In a timeless kitchen, the cabinetry is usually painted.
Is it always painted?
No. But if it’s wood, it’s usually old wood, or the entire home is wood. In other words, the wood cabinetry makes sense for the house it’s in. If the woodwork (trim) is painted, it makes no sense for the kitchen cabinets to be stained.
Here’s a good post that features kitchens with stained wood that look great and are appropriate for the homes they’re a part of.
What else goes on in timeless kitchens?
Timeless kitchens also have gorgeous high-end appliances. But either the fridge is out of sight or is built-in sleekly. Or, if a retro style, it might be separate. But the most outstanding timeless kitchens have stunning ranges.
Although, if that’s not in the budget, the sleekest stainless steel range you can afford is a good alternative.
My favorites are the Lacanche ranges. But, the stainless Smegs are cool, and of course, I’m not poopooing a La Cornue or an Aga in the right kitchen.
As for me, I want a Bertazzoni induction range for my new kitchen.
And, now for Mimi Thorisson.
Do y’all know who she is? I’m sure that a good many of you do. She’s made quite a name for herself as a chef, blogger, restaurateur, and author (I understand her cookbooks are terrific). And as if that’s not enough right there, she’s a wife and mother to EIGHT children and 14 dogs.
And she dares to look like that? haha, I found an article where she shares her beauty and other secrets for dealing with her extraordinary life.
Mimi and her photographer-husband bought this 15-room antique beauty in the French countryside and then did a number on it. But, in the most authentic way possible. Extraordinary!
And, actually uncovered some gems like this amazing tile floor. Now, THAT is the unkitchen of all unkitchens! And yeah, there’s her stunning Lacanche range. Does she need one that large?
Yes, she does.
Photo by Mimi’s husband, Oddur Thorisson, shows part of the family hard at work at their stations. I’m amazed at how well they’ve hidden the chains. haha.
Those with less docile children than these appear to be will understand 100%.
A fabulous dresser in Mimi Thorisson’s kitchen, beautifully styled.
Timeless kitchens have natural stone and especially marble.
It’s one of my favorites.
But, there’s something I’ve been dying to share with you about marble countertops.
I had heard about two years ago that “they,” but I didn’t know who was working on developing a way so that marble would not etch or stain.
And, I recently discovered that “they” did it.
Well, Antolini is the “they” who created something called Azerocare.
And, actually, it has been around for about two years, but I didn’t know that. With all of the crap people send me, why they didn’t send me anything about that, I can’t say.
Antolini’s website has a film that you are obliged to watch, so I’m sending you here for a good explanation of what it does.
Very important. You cannot apply azerocare to an already installed stone. And, it’s only through Antolini and its sellers. I imagine that it’s costly, but it might be just the thing for those who wish their marble to remain pristine.
Does anyone have any experience with it and can vouch for one way or the other?
(Note: March 28, 2019) – a total coincidence; I just read a fabulous review of Azerocare by kitchen designer Heather Hungeling. You can access her terrific blog post here, including ways to avoid getting ripped off!
Timeless kitchens frequently have a beautiful old table in place of the standard built-in island.
Another beauty by Gil Schafer
And yes, another Lacanche!
Above and below the beautiful and timeless kitchen belonging to Natasha Habermann.
Her range is a smeg. And the color on the cabinetry is Farrow and Ball Purbeck Stone.
Love the Gustavian cabinet!
Natasha is definitely “another one to follow” on Instagram. Her photos are fabulous. So, please check her out and follow if you’re not already.
Now, I see some of you looking very nervous, and I don’t think it’s about following Natasha Habermann.
Are you saying we have to rip out our kitchen islands, Laurel?
Oh, sorry. Gosh, no worries!
I see many tables, but I think that islands or counter-height work tables like Nancy Keyes are wonderful and still very much a part of timeless kitchen design.
I love this antique work table. (and all the rest too!) I think it adds much warmth and charm to this timeless kitchen. For instance, this beauty by Mark Maresca has set Instagram (follow Mark here) and Pinterest on fire with shares and repins.
Above is the dream kitchen I got to help out with for my friend, Mary, in Bronxville, NY. You can see much more of this lovely, here.
What about door styles, Laurel?
Oh yes! Thank you for reminding me!
Well, there can be a mix of styles.
For instance, I’ve long admired these antique glass doors for this built-in china cabinet.
Mainly for the regular doors, I prefer either a shaker style or one with a reasonably simple bead.
And my preference is for an inset cabinet as shown above, if possible.
It comes in numerous colors as well as metal finishes.
Above is another one of the charming, small DeVOL timeless kitchens.
I think the kitchen of Lindsey and Kristen Buckingham hits all of the right notes. Via Elle Decor.
You might also enjoy these posts featuring many classic and timeless kitchens.