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Timeless with a twist

Kitchen ideas from Food magazine

Traditional kitchens embrace current looks with Nordic, industrial and vintage detailing

Trends and fashions come and go, but there’s nothing quite as timeless as a traditionally styled kitchen. It’s a style that doesn’t turn its back on current looks altogether; both vintage and industrial detailing are able to morph with the look of a classic kitchen.

If you talk about traditional kitchens in the United States, it’s all about heavy timber cabinetry. Here, we tend to opt for a lighter look more reminiscent of French Province or Cape Cod, with scrubbed timber, cream-coloured cabinets and white butler’s sinks.

It’s a more casual look that better suits our lifestyles, and can be easily glammed up a little with the addition of marble bench tops, nickel taps or high-end freestanding cookers.

For this type of kitchen, it’s all about the detail and display. Even mundane kitchen items are on show; stacks of plates and jars of preserves on open shelves, ceramic vases of utensils, and retro-styled small appliances on the bench.

The cabinet drawers and cupboards are usually a panelled profile or tongue-and-groove. Wall-mounted cabinets can sit quite low over the bench, and have side-opening doors, as opposed to the top-hung variety.

Open shelving, glass-fronted cabinets, shell handles, industrial-style pendant lights and a soft colour scheme of Resene Quarter Truffle cabinets and Resene Half Merino walls give this expansive kitchen an elegant traditional vibe. It was designed by Leonie von Sturmer of Von Sturmer’s.

Benchtops tend to be timber, stone, marble or one of the many engineered products that give a stone look. White porcelain butler’s sinks are a classic addition, and instead of the shiny chrome finish we’ve become accustomed to in tapware, go for black, nickel or pewter instead for a softer, aged look. The current trend for brass and copper tones really suits this style – for door handles and other detailing. How about a bit of steam-punk style with exposed copper piping?

Try a barn-style door with exposed rollers on the pantry instead of a cavity slider, a hearth-style surrounding for the cooking area, a chimney-style rangehood, subway tiles, crates and baskets, cup handles or knobs, extra-wide free-standing cookers and French-door fridges.

Go classic with colour

For traditional kitchens, go for pale muddied putty tones (Resene Wheatfield) and antiqued creams (Resene Rice Cake). For a more adventurous approach, use black or deep dusky teal/blues (try Resene Foundry, Resene Seachange or Resene Explorer) either as an accent or for some of the cabinetry – the tall cabinets that sit against the wall, or for those on the island bench. Try rough-sawn planking or waxed oak planking for the front of the island.

This style lends itself beautifully to the current trend for Nordic interiors with their crisp whites (Resene Alabaster) and deep blacks (Resene All Black), softened with pale timbers and rustic accessories. Or an industrial vintage aesthetic with muted metals, chunky benchtops, smoky grey (Resene Double Trojan) and pared-back fittings.

Another colour palette that fits well are watery blue greens (Resene Duck Egg Blue, Resene Escape or Resene Carefree) for walls or cabinets, teamed with chalky white (Resene Quarter Cararra) for more of a Cape Cod look.

Left: Inspired by the colour of a new Kitchen Aid, Heike and Norbert Warda painted the walls of their kitchen in Resene Mint Tulip for a light, fresh and slightly retro feel.  Right: An ornate table instead of an island bench, and weathered doors, give this kitchen a look of appealing aged elegance. Designed by Joanne Godding of Bespoke on Khyber, it has cabinets finished in Resene Putty, a delicious mustardy cream, with walls in Resene Eighth Putty.

Right: Designed for a homeowner who loves the great outdoors, kitchen architect Toni Roberts chose a ski-hut aesthetic mixed with the traditional styling. The main cabinetry colour is Kiwi favourite Resene Half Pavlova, with the tree-fern green of Resene Koru used as an accent on the open shelving. The bench tops are a combination of quartz and black totara timber, while a timber-look tile splashback with thick black grouting imitates the timber panelling typically seen in tramping huts.

Resene top tips

Whitewashed floors are perfect partners for traditional and vintage kitchens. Use Resene Colorwood Whitewash or try Resene Rock Salt from the Resene Colorwood range.

Resene have a range of hardwearing urethanes that are perfect for protecting timber and accentuating its natural good looks, on cabinets and on the floor. Resene Aquaclear is a waterborne urethane varnish that’s easy to apply and to clean up for your cabinets. Resene Qristal ClearFloor is a waterborne urethane durable flooring finish.

Painted cabinetry is a key element in the look of traditional and vintage kitchens. To make sure you achieve exactly the right colour and a tough finish for your cabinets, make sure your cabinet-maker specifies Resene ArmourCat, a high-performing engineered finish. Or if you are up-cycling old cabinets, use Resene Lustacryl, a waterborne semi-gloss enamel. Use Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer underneath for extra grip and a better finish.


Text: Sharon Newey

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.