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Old-World And Unexpected Kitchen Cabinet “Trends” That We Are Loving And Leaning Into – Ways to Make A “New” Kitchen More Charming

Trying to make this basically-brand-new farm kitchen look “original” is not our goal. Even with a time machine, the “original” kitchen from 1910 wouldn’t exactly work for our modern needs. But you can add soul through vintage and salvaged pieces and by leaning into unexpected old-world details that make it feel appropriately charming. Today we are doing just that. I’m exploring how we are designing our simple shaker cabinetry to reflect some old-farm charm. We still don’t know if we are painting or staining wood, but we DID pull the trigger on this piece as the island which we are PSYCHED about (read a whole post about it here).

Along with ARCIFORM, we are working with Unique Kitchens & Baths on the cabinetry which can execute ANYTHING, like any little detail I want they can do. So Tanya (the owner) and Anne (ARCIFORM) asked me how I want to design these bad boys – now that we’ve got the function of them pretty much laid out, what are the design details that we want? We knew that we wanted inset versus flush, but other than that I had to really deep dive into the details to come to a place where the kitchen cabinetry will function well, but also have some quirk and charm.

Different Sizes Of Rails And Stiles

design by angela wheeler | photo by stephanie brown

First off “rails” and “stiles” are the horizontal and vertical face frames in between the drawers and cabinets (like rivers). Typically they are even – with the same amount of space between the drawers and cabinets horizontally and vertically, but this is somewhere you can play if you are going custom. It’s hard to notice, but when we were staring at Walnut Farmhouse kitchen cabinets (above) we realized that you can see the vertical rails/face frames but NOT the horizontal on SOME of the drawers. Then I started noticing in other older world kitchens that sometimes they aren’t uniform, either, which would not have been my instinct. I like this more with real stained wood versus painted because it highlights the grain, reducing the harder lines. Now you don’t want to waste too much space by having a really wide rail, but even in the photo below, you can see that it adds some quirk so it’s something to think about.

photo and design by caroline briggs | via domino

Also please notice those sweet little brackets holding up the upper cabinets. Is that necessary these days? No. But a nice detail.

Wide Shallow Drawers Or Pull-Out Boards

via restoring a house in the city by ingrid abramovitch

See that little drawer in the middle of that cabinet bank? I LOVE IT. I think it’s a pull-out table or cutting board, maybe shallow enough for a row of flatware, I don’t know. This is hard for Brian to get behind but I’m incorporating at least one of these somewhere in this house or I’m quitting the blog and running off to 18th century Scotland to be with Jamie. You can even put little sweet/tiny hardware on it.

design by louise roe

Lousie Roe had these already in her mudroom – three pull-out surfaces. Now is this the most practical thing ever? Maybe not, but it’s very little real estate to get a lot of charm.

Toe Kick Versus Baseboard Molding

Toe-kicks are the space under the cabinet that allow you to get a bit closer to the counter – so they are considered an ergonomic choice (especially by the sink). But for a more old-world look, you can have basically baseboard molding at the base of the cabinets instead of that empty space. In our LA kitchen, we chose a toe-kick with little legs, which is a popular look, but I will say that those legs get beat UP, and water from mopping can easily chip away the paint. Not a huge deal, but it was kind of annoying.

Changing Up Cabinet Depths, Just Because.

design by sims hilditch | via homes & gardens
design by paul bates and jeremey corken | via the state of things

I really, really, really love this look, but I really love having the function of big deep drawers even more (maybe). One of the reasons this works is because it’s drawer over cabinet, not drawer over other drawers that are set back. Now, I could do cabinets with drawers inside, but that’s a two-step move and the mechanism takes up more internal real estate. But we aren’t lacking for storage so maybe that’s ok? And historically I don’t mind a two-step move – not when it comes to just getting something out and shutting the cabinet. I don’t need everything to be “easy access” (I’m the cook that chops all veggies with a knife because I like the process and taking my time). But maybe that was “Covid Emily” and not future “Busy Emily”?

image source

Here the countertop was broken up by this additional on-counter drawer. Now if you have a really big kitchen or perhaps pantry/mudroom I could see this as a better fit, but losing that counter space in a kitchen might be too impractical.

Play With The Shape Of The Cabinet Opening

design by beata heuman

This is a good move if you are leaning into glass cabinetry fronts. Is there a shape that is more unexpected and unique than just a rectangle? As of now, we aren’t doing any uppers (and glass is precarious on lowers) but if we were I’d start playing around with this idea. If glass were more functional in a mudroom we could do it there, but I feel like I don’t want to actually see what’s inside the mudroom cabinets. Maybe if we do a built-in linen closet on the second-floor landing we could customize it with some sweet details.

via perrin and rowe

Here’s another version which obviously is much riskier, but seeing it unlocked other shapes in my mind. And then I remembered Beata Heuman’s radiator cover and thought there was a version of this that could work, too.

via plain english kitchens

I love those little decorative corners of those upper open cabinets. So sweet! Those could be in normal uppers, too with glass.

photo by camilla isaksson | via skonahem

I love the curved brackets on the “hutch” side of the kitchen above. It’s slightly fussy but if the kitchen is simple enough it’s super charming.

Integrate “Vent Holes” To Add Dimension And Whimsy

design by the misfit house | photo by kristin benton photography

I love these sweet little holes, and you can see below some different iterations of them. I was thinking I’d do some sort of “stripe” but thought that was weird until I saw the one below with two holes at both ends. So cute.

design by plain english design
design by plain english design
design by plain english design

I would imagine that the original purpose of these holes was to allow some breathability – so likely more for mudroom or pantry. But it’s a sweet detail that we can think about playing with and the ideas for that pattern are endless (but keep it simple).

design by plain english design

I even love the elongated pattern that Plain English did above (far right), but the staggered holes like Plain English does below is so classic and no fail.

design by plain english design

Don’t “Line Things Up” Perfectly

design by devol

Now this one might drive people NUTS, but it’s true that back in the day they didn’t obsess about everything “lining up”. Anne has been really great at pushing me in this direction. In the photo above and below the upper hutch shelf does not line up with the vertical stile of the lower cabinets. I would have thought it a big “no-no” but seeing it done so well it doesn’t look like an accident, it just looks like it’s there.

via kvanumkøkken

Again, it’s hard to notice because the kitchen is so beautiful but you can see that the on-counter cabinet is not lined up vertically with the lowers. It’s just a slight quirk that makes a difference.

Break Up Cabinets With Integrated Shelves With Brass Rods

design by the misfit house

Such a sweet little detail that isn’t exactly new on the scene, but I love how the cabinets are broken up by it and would be a cute place to put cookbooks, pretty oils, etc. We could even do this above the range, and integrate hanging copper pots underneath. SOLD.

design by heidi caillier design

Above is another example of breaking it up, but it looks really natural, not forced. Please note that they didn’t line things up perfectly on their lower cabinets as well. (notice the horizontal drawer).

Get Creative With Your Glass Fronts

design by jessica helgerson | photo by jeremy bittermann

Glass fronts are standard (and don’t forget to address the back of the shelves). But I love making them reeded, stained glass (like Jessica did above), or chicken wire.

design by plain english design

We did chicken wire in our LA kitchen and NEVER regretted it. There was not all the dust that was assumed there would be – or at least ther wasn’t on our daily dishes because we used them so much, but likely there was on what was stored at the top but it didn’t bother us.

photo by tessa neustadt | from: emily’s kitchen and dining room reveal

Break It Up With Little Tiny Drawers

design by plain english design

This is something we ended up doing (and we are excited about). YES, you lose some space and it might seem like an unnecessary cost but do you see how visually it really does something to the above shot? There is something almost rebellious about it, like we all know one big drawer is more practical so opting for this feels fresh and cool.

design and render by unique kitchens & baths

Unique Kitchens & Baths did this kitchen above, with those four little drawers under the glass cabinet, which adds so much character and contrast to the longer drawers on the bottom (also a fan of that pared back beadboard – I might need to steal that idea).

design and photo by jenny komenda

Jenny integrated two little drawers (with a sweet little bead) on her countertop hutch and we love it.

Integrate Plate Storage

design by benoit jamin and isabelle puech | via marie claire maison

I love this so much… in theory. We don’t have the extra upper cabinet space, but if you do and can handle a slightly less practical way to store dishes, this is pretty darn sweet. It makes more sense to me for cutting boards and platters like you see above, rather than just 8-10 of the same dinner plate.

via farrow & ball

I think this one is especially better in a house without a ton of kids as this could be annoying not having lower access to putting them away. However, if you look closely it seems that it has an open bottom that likely drains/drys/drips into the sink.

image source

Sliding Cabinet Doors

via johanna bradford

I don’t know why sliding doors are sweeter to me than all cupboards, but they make me happy. I’m thinking there is an opportunity to do this above our fridge/freezer without glass, but with the little vent holes. Just an easy way to shake it up without losing functional storage. You can, of course, only access one side at a time and you can’t put really big things in, so it’s not as practical, but again it’s probably just fine.

design by plain english design
design by amber lewis | photo by jess isaac | via all sorts of

I love Amber’s sliding glass built-in hutch with the reeded glass. So pretty and classic (but not boring).

Try Hanging “Cupboards” Instead Of Traditional Upper Cabinets

design by gisbert poeppler | photo by wolfgang stahr

While upper cabinets are waning in popularity in more contemporary houses (opting for floor to ceiling cabinets and windows instead) I love a hanging “cupboard”. Standard upper cabinets typically stop at a certain height and create an awkward space between the top and the ceiling which we don’t love, but when it looks like it’s a found piece that is hanging it somehow works more. (Also if you have the awkward above your cabinets, here’s a post to help if you need styling advice:))

Exposed Hinges On Cabinets

design by plain english design

Now this exposed hinge look isn’t for everyone, it does make it a bit busier and it doesn’t allow for soft closed doors and drawers (something Tanya pointed out that I didn’t know). But it is a sweet detail, so if it’s something you already have and you thought it was dated, maybe you can embrace it a bit more. We aren’t doing this, just something I considered briefly.

via devol kitchens

Also, I love the look of the cutting board cutout, but our cutting boards – the ones we LOVE and use daily, aren’t pretty enough to store like that.

Play With The Shape Of The Interior Shaker Panels

design by alison giese | photo by stacy goldberg

We are doing fairly standard shaker panels (with heavier rails than stiles – and none on the drawers) but I love the look of the arch above on that cabinet doors (even more extreme would be good!) or the famous Commune kitchen, below.

design by commune | photo by matthew williams for remodelista | via remodelista

I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface on this post and haven’t even really talked about hardware, the scale of the shaker panel itself and upper shelving, but this post is already so overwhelming and long, so I’m breaking it up. But listen, custom cabinets are permanent, expensive, and need to function right so there is a lot to consider. But if you are going to go custom, then you want then to look indeed, CUSTOM. So it’s been a great excericise for me to know all the options out there for making them look more special by leaning into these old-world trends.

I’m happy to say that we are THIS CLOSE to ordering our cabinets for kitchen, pantry, and mudroom and I’m extremely excited about them. As I mentioned above we are working with Unique Kitchens & Baths and Tanya (the founder and owner) is incredibly knowledgable with an in-house design team that is ready to draw them all up. More to come on that but if you are in the custom cabinet market (and especially if you are into deVOL or the more European style of boxed cupboards like Plain English) I highly recommend them. She has agreed to give my readers 10% off their order if you say you found them through me. And yes they do all the drawings for you so this works if you have a designer or not (Leanne Ford, Lauren Leiss, and Bobby Berk all use them, too – so you are in excellent hands, I’ve been seriously impressed thus far). Again, more to come on the whole process but I wanted to let you know about the discount in case you are in the market this minute (and their lead times are 6 weeks, not six months, FYI:))

More to come. xx

Opening Image Credits: Design by The Misfit House | Photo by Kristin Benton Photography


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86 thoughts on “Old-World And Unexpected Kitchen Cabinet “Trends” That We Are Loving And Leaning Into – Ways to Make A “New” Kitchen More Charming

  1. Oh, I love the quietness of these kitchens. It strikes me that they’re peaceful and calm.
    Any of these kitchens would be so soulful to live with.
    I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ve chosen, with all the tiny details that make all the difference!😊

    **Leadlight glass is pieces connected with, well, lead.
    **Stained glass has coloured and/or stained glass pieced together.

    1. Yes leaded glass is just that – stained glass in stained (ie: colored) and usually has leaded joinery.

    2. I used beveled glass in my kitcheb reno. Much easier to clean than leaded, stained or even reeded glass, and historically accurate.

  2. Wow, it’s fascinating how the tiniest of details can make a big difference. Thank-you for analysing what those tiny details are, I think in a lot of these cases I would have loved the kitchens but struggled to put my finger on exactly why.
    Of all of them I think the three elements that instantly make a kitchen look old fashioned (or at least “not modern”) are (1) the rails and stiles being different widths (2) asymmetry of any kind (3) visible hinges on cupboard doors. I actually love the visible hinges so much I wonder would you consider faking them, so you can still have soft-close doors?
    Looking at these three now I realise that modern manufacturing is so precise, and modern design (especially American tastes) lean towards such precise symmetry, that anything that suggests imperfection instantly brings the old-world charm.
    Dying to see the final kitchen, I don’t envy you the gazillion choices you are having to make.

    1. Old kitchens are charming because they evolved organically over time. Different cabinets were added at different times. Maybe something broke and was replaced by a slightly different form. Fake old, and deliberate asymmetry is hard to do without looking try-hard or twee

  3. The baseboards are dirt catchers in general. It would be even more dirtier in the kitchen

  4. These are all stunning and I’m so exited for your kitchen. But – how else do you chop veggies but with a knife? Am I missing an amazing life hack??

    1. Wait. i’m confused. did I say that I don’t use a knife? I definitely do. sorry if I was confusing, but I actually rarely use a food processor (like twice in my life) and only use a big board and a knife 🙂

      1. Emily, you DID say you only use a knife. We were wondering what the alternative would be. Apparently it’s a food processor. 😊

        1. oh hahaha. yes I think a lot of people use like gadgets and food processors and ninjas or slap chops (??)…. maybe i’m not unique in just using a knife but i know so many people that love weird gadgets!

          1. I only use a knife and I have dodgy hands that go numb! I just like the soulfulness of chopping, slicing, thinking…
            And I nevercook angry. Ha!

  5. I love many of these kitchens! I noticed the Amber Lewis one had lots of tile but also drywall and wood – something to consider for the tile debate? If you do holes in the cabinets, just make sure they look like design. The examples near the top with 4 holes are reminiscent of a box with vent holes for an animal – just my gut reaction – and you wouldn’t want it to look like you were keeping animals in the kitchen. Love the mis-matched stuff.

  6. With the “chicken wire” cabinet fronts, I was imaging the wires themselves getting coated with that greasy kitchen dust. Was that just not a problem or did you vacuum them daily or something?

    1. Was it literally chicken wire just stretched over the door frame? I’m curious to see if I could DIY, or if it was a more professional finish than real chicken wire!

      1. yah it was a brass grate and no it was never greasy! people warned me that it would be but it was never a problem.

  7. If you like the look of a tiny pull out shelf, you could consider adding one to the closet/cabinets in the mudroom (between lower drawers and upper cabinets). It could be used as a drop zone, but the temporary nature of the “counter” might encourage putting away whatever lands there, rather than having it be another horizontal hot spot for clutter. And even if some clutter stays, isn’t that part of the reason for the mudroom… To keep the mess outside of the main living areas?

    1. THIS! Fabulous idea!!!
      I have a pull-out shelf thingo in an old chest of drawers I did up many moons ago and I use it all the time!

    2. I have a small kitchen with limited counter space so I LOVE my pull out cutting board because it instantly adds counter space when I need it and goes away when I don’t. When I use it as a cutting board I put a separate cutting mat on it, which saves having to clean it. I can throw the mat in the disher. But be warned… if you have kids they will want to use the slightly lower, and more fun, pull-out and, unless you train them immediately not to, they WILL push it closed while it’s covered in toast crumbs and everything in the drawer below will look like a Panko Party. I’m a big fan, but be forewarned!

  8. GAH! okay, i have way too little time and way too many comments, so i’ll just say this. this post was sooooooo good! my favorite kind. TONS of eye candy that i normally wouldn’t have seen because my job unfortunately doesn’t include me scouring design all over the place, so i totally appreciate having it all brought together here for an eyeball feast (ew, that kinda could sound gross, but you know what i mean). love love love all these details.

  9. These photos and descriptions were so fun! What a great post! I love the simplified look of inset doors and drawers, BUT you must live in a place with completely solid immovable soil. I live near the gulf coast and we have what’s called “Gumbo” soil. It has a fair bit of clay so it swells and shrinks dramatically with rain or drought. The moisture changes affect the foundation, both pier and beam and especially slab. This means the houses move a bit, which throws off the alignment of the drawers and doors. In my previous house, I had inset doors and drawers and some days they’d open and other days I’d have to really yank on them. Plus they looked askew within the opening, and it drove me batty. In this house I specifically chose surface mounted, and I’m so much happier. I don’t visually notice any changes in alignment and everything opens! Moral of the story: know your soil!

    1. that is SO Interesting and totally makes sense. So if you live in a climate like this do you do full overlay/flush? Or partial overlay? THat’s great insight.

    2. Good to know that that’s actually the case! I desperately want inset drawers and doors, but my friends in construction here tell me it’s a horrible choice since my house is on clay. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to listen to them or not!

    3. Excellent point. Also if you’re in a high humidity area I think the wood can swell enough to make them stick. They look beautiful but that would be so annoying!
      I can’t get enough of all these details and am loving EVERY SINGLE ONE except the slide out cutting board. My grandmother had on (that was never used at least in my day) but it was disgusting. Nothing but a crumb catcher, hard to keep clean. Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen!

    4. My uncle installs custom cabinets in WA and says the inset are such a pain. Terrible to keep in alignment, esp the drawers like if you have small helpers putting away silverware and a fork gets closed in the drawer it will probably need to be realigned. Swelling can be an issue with real wood. He has a number of clients who have him come back regularly to maintain them.

  10. Am I alone in feeling that many of these superfluous details are, in Emily’s words, fussy or, even worse, try-hard? I get it, it’s so tempting to veer toward these little extras, but for my own traditional kitchen reno, I’m “trying hard” to fight the urge. I can’t help feeling that these retro touches are kitschy and will leave me feeling like I’m in a Disney EPCOT version of traditional kitchen, rather than an elegant, timeless one. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    1. I think any of them can be used if there are also modern/minimal aspects to the kitchen that provide balance. Just not all of them, by any means, and the more “old aunt in the house by the dairy” your details are (yes I had that aunt, she was so nice to me) the more you want to carefully balance with a cleaner style elsewhere.

    2. No, Shannon, you are not alone. I’m all about function in kitchens and most of these features would annoy the heck out of me when cooking, cleaning or both. Emily’s a stylist, absolutely superb at making things pretty for photos so it makes sense that she wants all this sweet stuff. I don’t foof my hair, get fake tans or wear ruffles but I’m entertained by reading about such things here. It’s kinda like a glimpse into another culture. So  fascinating to me!

      1. ha. it’s all in how you do it, and using high quality very intentional materials. any one of these ideas can look bad, but also any one of these, when executed correctly, can look awesome. But of course that’s my opinion, i write the post 🙂

        1. Well, I love them ALL and have pinned a bunch for when I can finally do my laundry room. The green ‘cabinets with integrated shelves and brass rods’ is soooooo beautiful and exactly what I’d love to have. Thank you for these great pictures and pointing out the details!

        2. I’m pretty sure that you will make whatever you choose look great…but, keeping authenticity of our era in mind could help eliminate some of the less useful elements from the design, and focus on the ones with real value from a utility point of view. We’ve all experienced doing something just because it looks cool (or at least I have, for example the wood counter with the main sink in it), and eventually disliking it because it wasn’t useful or just a problem to clean or maintain.

        3. “Executed correctly” is the operative term. Executed by experts – not for ordinary budgets. Meaning don’t try this at home.

      2. So snarky! I think there is a place for ultra sleek modern and traditional/vintage charming and everything in between -if it makes sense for the house/setting. That’s what makes design so interesting in my book. Would it look silly in a typical suburban neighborhood-Yes. But it makes total sense for an old farmhouse.

    3. I think there will be a different feel in a kitchen that has only one or two of these details, and has them repeated throughout the room. Seeing so many options in one post, in pictures of different parts of various kitchens, leaves a feeling of more fussiness than any of the individual kitchens probably has in reality.

  11. We had a wooden pull-out bread board in our 1950s original kitchen and I loved it! It was definitely one of the hardest working items in our kitchen of sourdough-loving folks! I used it multiple times a day, every day, especially when my kids were tiny and the counter seemed always to be cluttered. It was so easy to pull it out, throw together a sandwich or some toast, brush it off and slide it neatly away. We recently renovated the kitchen and that was one feature I planned to keep, but there was a miscommunication with the cabinet maker and by the time it was discovered, it was not worth it to me to try to make the bread board happen. I love our new, vastly more functional kitchen design, but I do miss that pull out board!

  12. You are having so much fun with this, aren’t you? I love all these kitchens. I wouldn’t do sliding doors except in places where the traditional hinged door would work well- I think they would be really annoying. But for one special place that you don’t often open, sure. Also seems like a colored stain would be more true to the Shaker tradition, than paint, but I haven’t researched that enough to know if that’s true or if I’m working from a flawed memory. I know you’re going to come up with a beautiful kitchen with a few charming quirks. All these ideas have caused me to think more about my own kitchen, which I swore I would not redo!

    1. You know, i’ve tried to convince Brian about the colored stain and he isn’t on board YET, but I think its a GREAT idea for a post. Staining the island black (not painting it) at the mountain house was the best decision and its held up so well (better than paint, i think). So yes, GREAT idea.

      1. Hi Emily,

        Really great post❣️Kitchen designs are always the most exciting and challenging (in a good way). I am so enamored with the colored stained wood 💯 especially the green one with the vertical paneled doors. Ohh-la-la. Do we all need to talk to Brian?

        Brian, dear, come to the stained wood side plz (instead of the dark side. Get it?……..sigh)💋

      2. Yes, because I also remember you reporting that paint always has to be touched up every year. Stain wouldn’t need to.

    2. For a few years during my childhood we lived in a place that had sliding doors in a kitchen. I would never do it, especially while still raising my kids. Doors that stick more than normal doors, angling things in and out, the numbers of inches you lose in the middle if you want everything to go in/out easily (people seem to think it’ll be an inch or two, but it’s easily 4-6 inches you should leave empty), kids that leave things partly open or nearly closed all the time, dinging the slider guides and having to fix or replace them. It’s all a lot of small battles that I would not willingly go through again.

  13. Oh, THANK YOU for this post! Like others, I don’t have the time or expertise to research why these kitchens are special, so you doing the heavy lifting is really helpful! And you are so right – if you’re going to go custom (and pay that premium, because it IS a premium), the cabinets should have some elements that make them LOOK custom. We’re about to renovate an 1860s farmhouse, so this post couldn’t be more timely. I can’t wait to make some choices based on these super sweet features. Now, how about some help at disguising modern day appliances?!?! 🙂

      1. Yes! I’m currently installing deVOL cabinets, and their refrigerator panel is actually a door with hinges. The fridge door moves on a “slider.” It looks EXACTLY like the pantry cabinet next to it. Don’t know how I missed this in the design process, but mind blown. In my last reno, we did integrated panels, but this is next level hidden.

        1. Great idea, Amber. Working with cabinet companies like that, who are good at adding small details to make their work special, is often worth it. Is deVOL near you, though? I get nervous thinking about working with cabinet companies that can’t be present in my space first. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but would hate to screw up at the custom prices I’d be paying.

          1. Kind of? There is a deVOL showroom in NYC, which is where I live, although the cabinets are for my weekend house in CT.

            I designed my kitchen at the height of covid, so after I went to the showroom to confirm I was pleased with the quality of construction, all of my design meetings were held over zoom. DeVOL employs kitchen designers, so I felt comfortable doing this on my own with their help (I also have VERY specific kitchen opinions and have designed a kitchen before).

            My contractor gave precise measurements to them, but the cabinets are constructed with an unusual amount of adjustability. I think this has more to do with their experience with old British homes than remote work though.

            Of note, I actually went with their semi-custom shaker line. I did get some custom pieces to accommodate obstructions like structural beams, but overall the price per square foot was lower than the custom cabinets I put in my city apartment, and I think the construction is better.

            Probably more info than you bargained for, but hope that helps.

  14. I love where you are going with the kitchen design, but I really love that you snuck in Outlander!

  15. Of all of your ideas, the one I definitely can get behind completely is the one where you time travel to Scotland to be with Jamie. I’ve had that idea A LOT.

    1. hahahaha. indeed. i just finished ‘Some like it Scot’ which is a romance novel set in the highlands and it was SO FUN. not nearly as good as outlander, but you know … (reading ‘It’s getting Scot in here’ next – its a series :))

  16. Thanks for this post, Emily. I am currently considering putting washer and dryer in my (yet to be) mudroom but have been stumbling over the need for venting. The “vent holes” idea is a great way to accomplish this without reverting to the traditional horizontal louvered doors! Yay!

  17. We had custom cabinetry built when we renovated our kitchen a dozen years ago and it’s help up quite well, considering how hard we use it. (It’s getting ready for some paint touch-ups.)
    The one feature that I have come to loathe, however, is the period appropriate (our 4 square was built in 1900) base molding with inset toe kicks. It looks very cute, but the base molding gets filthy SO FAST and the toe kick space is always hiding various grossness. At the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know . . . But I can say I wouldn’t do it again!

  18. A lot of these features have practical originals — they aren’t just sweet or cute, although they are that too.

    Those pull out boards are usually for extra counter space. The top photo is a butlers pantry, so that’s for dish-ware (might have a soft material on top). Sometimes they are for baking (a kneading board), and others are for chopping (although that option has more limited utility imho, since it will eventually need to be replaced).

    The vent holes are on larder cupboards for ventilation. People used to store foods in the pantry that we keep in the fridge. I wouldn’t put them just anywhere or it might look try-hard.

    The dish racks are all over the sinks for drying. Remodelista has a good post about Indian versions of these devices that have spaces for all kinds of dishes, cups etc.

    And I actually think small or shallow drawers are useful, although you said they are less practical. People didn’t used to have all sorts of container store style drawer dividers, so they help with organization. Personally, I like having having shallow drawers for flatware and utensils. With double layered inserts you have to move two things, and it’s harder to see the stuff in the drawer.

    While the stepped out cabinet levels seem a little random, the Sims Hildich one is brilliant. Ranges like lacanche have to sit several inches away from the wall, and normally that means they stick out from the cabinets. In this case, the deeper cabinet makes the range flush with that section of drawers.

  19. I love this post! So many beautiful and thoughtful little details. I so wish I had a house to renovate, but I’ll for sure come back to this post when it finally becomes reality! Can’t wait to see what your kitchen is going to be like.

    Oh, and I have to say, when you showed us the photos of drying racks over the sink, that’s what comes standard in kitchens in Scandinavia. They usually have cabinet doors tho, to hide the mess of drying dishes, pots and pans. 😅

    1. oh really (re scandinavia?) i didn’t know that! I like the idea of them drying over the sink behind cabinets (I think haha).

      1. Yup! I live in Finland and practically every kitchen has one of them over the sink. I’ve also seen them in Sweden. Some newer kitchens following the trend of no upper cabinets don’t have them, but they are definitely in minority. It’s very handy for drying things you need to wash by hand.

    2. Oh! I love that! They have doors, but are over the sink so they still have the open bottom for draining? That’s the best of all worlds.

  20. These all feel English country/ Jasper Conran and not shaker. Which I’m totally in love w but just trying to see where the shaker comes in w the found island. Unless it’s just a simple and purposeful mindset.

    1. its mostly in the cabinetry – i.e. the simple paneling on the doors and drawers. but listen i’m not always right 😉

      1. ah. no. I get it. take away the shaker legs and English country doors are all free of ornamentation too.

  21. Are the vent holes for like pie cooling? I love pie hutches in farmhouse kitchens, so much charm.

  22. This was such a great post on the impact of small details. A lot of this really doesn’t feel much like “my” style but I really love the move away from the look of “perfection” and towards quirk.

  23. I grew up in a home built in the 1800’s. I loved the pull out cutting board. You could hide it away so it didn’t take any storage space, but was always convenient. We also had a pull down ironing board in the kitchen which was really cool too- great for a quick touch up.

  24. I have an old Victorian, the kitchen was redone maybe 35 years ago by my father in law. One of my favorite things are the hidden cutting boards under the counters. We have 3 around the kitchen. I say do it!

  25. just wanted to say how much i enjoy these posts, loads of inspirational pics and i love how small details that make such a huge difference are explained! please do keep them coming🤗

  26. Oh my, what a way to start my morning – love this post! I have been in love with English kitchens for 20yrs, and have had the pleasure of designing two in our homes over that time. The first was actually built in England and shipped to the US for installation and finishing. It was unfitted in style and inset doors. Beautiful F&B French Grey island with antique pine top. The island was based off a Chalon island and held a V&B sink. A stained pine cupboard with chicken wire doors (did not get grey kitchen dirt, as one comment mentions) divided by a double plate rack with copper dowels and copper backsplash. Pine lower cabinets on either side of the range with art above, no uppers for me, and a lovely on-site built copper clad hood. I purchased an iron seal that was saved when a NYC bridge was replaced. The seal represented New Amsterdam. The fridge area was painted a second color. Between the kitchen and laundry room was another hutch we called the coffee station, painted black with glass doors above, pine counter, tongue and groove back and a copper prep sink. All food and small appliances were kept in the walk-in pantry.

    In our last home, I designed another English kitchen but more refined. No upper cabinets in this kitchen either, but I did do a “wall of doors” that housed (and hid) freezer and fridge towers, two food pantries and a coffee station. Island of all drawers to hold dinnerware, glassware and the best ever baking pan drawer with divided sections (no digging to find the right pan!) All the cabinets, walls and trim were painted a lovely F&B Blue Gray. Black soapstone sink and counter, and an amazing shaped soapstone backsplash on the range wall that went to the ceiling. The house had lead glass windows in most rooms, but not the kitchen, so those were added. We just sold this home two months ago, and oh how I miss that kitchen!

  27. This was such a fabulous post! Im in the process of building a new house and have been losing sleep over how I’m going to make it feel soulful and charming, ha.
    Maybe this is a stupid question —but what is the benefit of working with someone like unique kitchens and baths vs. just telling/showing your cabinet contractor what you want? Is it that they’re designing each cabinet for you?

  28. Hi! Love all these cute details that I have never taken the time to think about. There seem to be some of the cute details from here in the original dining/great room hutch from the house. Is that something you are pulling inspiration from or reusing in some way? It’s so beautiful and seems like it would be hard to get it go- despite looking huge!

  29. Pull out cutting boards/landing pads are one of my favorite parts of my kitchen. I have one under the toaster oven and coffee maker and another under the microwave cabinet. It is practical and very handy.

  30. As a kid, our kitchen was in an addition from 1911 (house is 1837) and had a pull-out cutting board. The placement was right in front of where our toaster was so it got used daily during breakfast plus a lot of other times.

  31. Ahh, the vent holes make me squeamish. All I can think about is vermin getting inside the cabinets. No thanks, been there, done that, I don’t want to be greeted by a mouse or a roach when I open my cupboards (shudder). Pull out cutting boards have always been handy, though, and I love the look of reeded glass, sliding doors, and drying racks. 🙂

  32. Love this and basically everything you do!! One small comment….I love copper too but live in a medium sized house house, I can’t waste my precious pot hanging real estate (above my 30” induction range, and I cook for large family gatherings and 21 meals per week for our family of 4 and bake all our bread lol😉) with copper because it doesn’t work! So I settle for my vintage cast iron…and gave away my copper) if you have any ideas about what you might hang it would be awesome! Keep up the awesome work, love you guys

  33. For me, this post is one to save. We are slowly renovating our 1930s Norwegian style salt box house (that has had many interventions and add ons.) We are planning to move the kitchen to a different area. It may not end up Pinterest ready, but I would like it to be relatable to the rest of the house. I understand the flow of kitchen activity I want but understanding some of these design details helps me consider what to talk about (Lobby for!) with my husband (aka the carpenter). We will easily have plenty of quirk in the final design and if a drawer sticks we will just have to sand it a bit. We clean things up and reuse them! Oh, and those pull out cutting boards? I have my eye on one because they are a perfect long board size for flaying salmon. While cleaning fish yesterday, I was thinking that we need a spot to hide away a big board! Obviously, you clean the whole thing, dry it, then replace it.

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