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Two Arts & Crafts Kitchens: Bungalow Basic & Adirondack Spirit

by Patricia Poore on March 6, 2014

in Kitchens & Bathrooms

White or rustic? Bungalow-era kitchens may be basic in white, while revival kitchens are new interpretations, often unique.

Period conventions include wood countertops with white paint and schoolhouse lights. Photo: William Wright

Period conventions include wood countertops with white paint and schoolhouse lights. Photo: William Wright

Two very different kitchens illustrate the wide range of design and materials that fit under the description “Arts & Crafts.” Both interpret design motifs ca. 1905–1930. The first—though it’s hardly plain—conjures up the basic bungalow kitchen with its subway tile and white-painted cabinets. The second, for a house newly built, is an artistic expression that marries Adirondack Rustic to Craftsman-era furniture details.

Kitchens of the Arts & Crafts revival are woodsy and filled with artisanry, but not so the utilitarian kitchens of the bungalow era. Cabinets were washable and renewable, painted in white enamel. Lighting was basic.

Stainless steel is frankly modern yet timeless in a practical room that evokes the “sanitary kitchens” of the bungalow era: white tile and washable paint. Photo: William Wright

Stainless steel is frankly modern yet timeless in a practical room that evokes the “sanitary kitchens” of the bungalow era: white tile and washable paint. Photo: William Wright

That look is beautifully interpreted today for practical kitchens that seem appropriate for any house. White subway tile and cabinets are timeless, relieved by the countertop in soapstone or wood. Stainless-steel appliances recall the nickel finishes of the period. In this kitchen, color is introduced through a bright yellow liner tile, painted fixture shades, and colorful dishware behind glass doors—as the butler’s pantry has come into the kitchen proper.

This artistic kitchen places furniture-quality cabinets in a room rustic with tree trunks and a twig frieze as a soffit. Photo: Jeffrey Stowell

This artistic kitchen places furniture-quality cabinets in a room rustic with tree trunks and a twig frieze as a soffit. Photo: Jeffrey Stowell

The kitchen in a new Adirondack-style house brought the outdoors in—with tree trunks, a twig soffit detail, and landscape tiles. An asymmetrical design furthers the room’s naturalism. The owners liked the ruggedness of Adirondack style for their project in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, but wanted more refined handcraft for elements such as cabinets.

Thus a Craftsman aesthetic is apparent in cabinets designed and built by Crown Point of inch-thick sapele finished in the company’s Nutmeg stain. The Arts & Crafts Designer series features crown moldings with brackets and tapered legs with faux tenons. (A mini-prep kitchen with small appliances sits off the main kitchen, with white-painted cabinets to lighten the windowless space.)

Arts & Crafts highlights include the Motawi tile mural and abstract cutouts. Photo: Jeffrey Stowell

Arts & Crafts highlights include the Motawi tile mural and abstract cutouts. Photo: Jeffrey Stowell

Painted in Crown Point’s ‘Lexington Green’ with a glazed finish, the island has the unfitted look of furniture. It is topped with Blue Australe granite. The stove is another focal point, with a copper hood and a colorful tile mural depicting (what else?) a wooded landscape.
The room divider is outfitted as a hutch on the kitchen side, with retractable doors to hide small appliances in upper cabinets that rest on the countertop. End panels have custom cutouts inspired by Arts & Crafts motifs, Frank Lloyd Wright’s in particular; marbleized opaque glass shows through, lending brightness.

 Capacious storage hides behind panel doors in the large center island, which is used for prep, serving, and informal seating.

Capacious storage hides behind panel doors in the large center island, which is used for prep, serving, and informal seating.

All this detail is held in a rustic room featuring structural tree trunks that came from Maine. The soffit’s twigs are saplings cut in Maine and on the project manager’s forested property in New Hampshire. Beckwith Builders’ designer Aimee Bentley, AIA, explains the fabrication of the three-dimensional frieze: “Barked twigs were cut, sliced to length, and the backs shaved a bit so they would lie flat. Then they were applied to a plywood backing that had been painted black. The strips of plywood then were applied to the wall, and fir top and bottom trim routed to hold LED strip lighting.”

The unique house isn’t the first to draw connections between mountain rustic and Arts & Crafts design.

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