Nothing makes a statement quite like a household with a provincial kitchen. Eliciting the feel of French countryside interiors with their bold and idiosyncratic style, the mere mention of the provincial kitchen immediately calls to mind a long list of descriptions. Words like warm, charming, quaint and ornate all belong almost exclusively to provincial style kitchens.
French provincial kitchens have enjoyed a huge resurgance in popularity in recent times, and it's not uncommon to find entire stores dedicated to this style of building and decoration.
What is a French provincial kitchen?
Provincial kitchens, otherwise known as French country kitchens, owe their title to the style they borrow from traditional designs of provincial France. Whereas modern kitchens feature predominately straight lines and emphasise simplicity and austerity, provincial kitchens favour sweeping curves and a dash of olde-worlde grandiosity.
In some senses, a French provincial kitchen's the exact opposite of the 'elegant simplicity' you might find in a modern kitchen. Intricate patterns and impressive detail is the stamp of quality in a provincial kitchen.
Rather than understating the prominent parts of furniture which receive the most natural attention and focus – door handles, bench corners, and so on – provincial designs seek to make them more conspicuous and detailed. For instance, wrought-iron door handles on cupboards are usually elegantly patterned to draw attention to the design, and bench edges often feature patterned carving or moulding.
These ornate details on the cupboards and benches are generally supplemented by freestanding cabinets. Freestanding cabinets have the advantage of looking hand-picked, so your kitchen doesn't seem themed or custom-designed as a singular entity. Cabinets detached from the wall add charm to the kitchen by injecting personality and life that can be hard to find elsewhere in an age where we're otherwise surrounded by clinical sleekness. Nonetheless, freestanding cabinets should still strive to match the rest of the kitchen.
Provincial kitchens faithful to the style allow for very little flexibility in terms of the colour schemes you choose. Provincial kitchens still mainly use white, cream and light brown colours, understated nicely to juxtapose with the decorative touches scattered throughout the rest of the interior.
Where space permits, island benches are another common characteristic of this kind of kitchen design, and for all intents and purposes these form the centerpiece of the kitchen. Decked out with cupboards or sinks, these benches can be used for preparation, serving or cleaning up, depending on how the kitchen's laid out.
Style, but not at the expense of function
The country kitchen is the most traditional of kitchens, and it's designed not only to look great, but also to be used very heavily. The country kitchen can look fantastic, and a bit of clutter goes hand in hand with the style.
Other characteristics of these kitchens include painted or glazed cabinets, farmhouse sinks and open shelving. They will often feature wooden floors, cabinets and antique hardware and furniture. The cooking space will usually also be made of wood, including mahogany, oak or even teak.