French Kitchen Design - Paris Inspiration!

As the Tour de France (which I LOVE to watch every year, often multiple times a day) is heading toward the great finish in Paris this weekend, my thoughts this morning went to the incredibly inspiring colors, textures, materials that I encountered in the streets of Paris over a week long leisurely stay. I've been compelled to write about the Tour de France and kitchen design more than once!

I started looking at my many images of Paris. I began to look at which pieces within a given image could be used as design inspiration, to be translated into a kitchen plan. By looking beyond and around the objects in an image, you can bring a sort of abstract yet highly authentic design concept into a kitchen design. Open your eyes and your mind and the inspiration will come!

Inspiration for your kitchen design theme can come from travel, nature, your home town, a literary work, really, anything. It doesn't have to come solely from looking at images of other kitchens! By looking elsewhere for inspiration, in unexpected places, you can create a kitchen design that is highly personal. That, to me, is a very exciting way to plan the aesthetic layer of your kitchen!

I isolated 40 images that I felt had great ideas that could be translated easily into design concepts. Maybe I'll do a few of these posts. 

Below: Soft, calm, green-as-neutral accented with a small amount of black and oh-so-elegant soft and light to my eyes and what a color palette for a kitchen. Don't miss the gilt gold factor!

Below: Complementary colors on the color wheel, this warm blue and warm gold are perfect aesthetic companions. This hardware can translate into lighting fixtures, faucet, sink, hardware and other accents combined with blue cabinetry, countertop or flooring.

Below: Colorful artwork brings life into the kitchen as well as a feeling of culture, telling a story about the overall design of the kitchen. Anywhere you can find room for art in the kitchen, do it! I've been saying this since I started this blog in 2007 - art will stir the emotions in this very utilitarian space

Below: Industrial and authentically worn stainless steel meets elegantly worn wood flooring in the always wonderful European herringbone pattern. The cool/warm thing - always an interesting contrast

Below: That elegant look of paneling, but look closer and you'll see that it is applied molding - SO easy to do, even diy. Anywhere you can logically frame something will transform the kitchen into....Paris, and don't forget to frame the ceiling and possibly paint sections within the paneling

Below: These 3 images below feature a similar color palette, lovely for a kitchen. Again, the cool/warm factor is a natural, and the images show various combinations of lights and dark, each color, allowing the opposite color to pop. To my eye, these are all sophisticated yet easy to use colors in the kitchen. The very dark door MAY be a bit of a trendy color in kitchen cabinets today, but I would like it as a countertop color. Love the blue/gray street!

Below images pertains to the above grouping but is intentionally blurred to remove bad things that happen on the street!

Below: Happy color as seen in the very traditional door design yet viewed as a friendly, casual design element. A color such as this blue can be used in an accent piece in the kitchen which is usually a better choice due to an otherwise potentially overwhelmingly heavy balance. Or, do small pops of color like the great purple color seen in the flowered vine, an analogous color to the navy door and window, but in a light color for added interest and contrast. Love the navy, beige and gray colors in that image.

Look for inspiration anywhere! Start a folder in a project management system of some sort that might be labeled color, inspiration, ideas, design concepts, what I love, whatever makes sense. Or, of course, in pinterest! It's a fabulous way to discover your own, very personal, definition of creativity. It's fun too!


La Cornue - Kitchen Le Magnifique

I had the pleasure some weeks back of dining in New York City with Xavier Dupuy, president of La Cornue, my colleague and friend, Leslie Clagett from the blog KBCulture and a couple of PR people, always useful to fill in the blanks for a brand. I very much enjoyed this type of intimate setting.

I love up close and personal meetings with manufacturers. It helps me "get" the culture of the company which always trickles down to my understanding the quality of the product and the type of people who actually manufacture the product. 

Mr. Dupuy spent a fair amount of time talking about his factory workers - the length of time many of his employees have worked for La Cornue along with past generations of these employees' families who also worked at the factory. Lots of interesting stories. In times like these, it's nice to hear that. Mr. Dupuy takes immense pride in those who manufacture his products. This was not a short conversation!

La Cornue is a luxury brand of ranges and rotisseries that are made in France. Now, La Cornue is expanding their line of luxury appliances by adding a collection of custom made cabinetry (complete with the familiar metal banding if desired) called Culinary Architecture Memoire and a collection of handcrafted sinks. 

I've studied French kitchen design over the years. It's different. Here's why: the design emphasis is close to equal in regard to aesthetics and function. Function to the French (and to most other cultures other than, um, us in the US) does not mean that every single space gets filled for storage ... just because the space is there to fill. 

The negative space of the room is strongly considered an aesthetically important piece to the design of the kitchen, equal or nearly equal to functional pieces. What does that mean? It means an "unfitted kitchen" or a collection of islands or sections of cabinetry is preferred as opposed to continuous "runs" of cabinetry such as L-shaped, U-shaped kitchens, etc. Minimum wall cabinetry is also a part of La Cornue's kitchen design philosophy to achieve areas where the eye can rest.

Of course, the cooking area is considered the most important piece of the design ... after all, we know how seriously the French take their cooking!

A lovely evening, interesting insight into a brand and its philosophy, gorgeous products.

Le Tour de France - French Country Kitchens

I'm engrossed in le Tour de France, the fabulous cycling event which takes place across France each July for 3 weeks, ending in Paris on the last day. I watch it every day it's on (truthfully, morning and night) and am emotionally transported to the beautiful small villages, the stunning landscape, fields of sunflowers, majestic mountains, and amazing 11th century chateaux...and, the fierce cycling competition too! There are few sights as beautiful as the peleton racing across the French landscape.

Image by Graham Watson

So, what if one were to visit le Tour and rent a Chateau as many do? It's on my list to do one year. Take a look at some of these wonderful, authentic, French country kitchens found in homes and chateaux scattered across the Loire Valley, in today's Stage 8. These are beautiful homes to rent (but I'd also like to rent a chef to cook French cuisine, right?) Images from Luxury Retreats

Below, a classic French style - the hood blends into the architecture in a seamless way, the cabinetry is traditional with mustard color on the island as well and is sort of built into a sort of foundation which defines the kitchen. 

Below, this one may be my favorite. It's SO gorgeous yet simple. The white (and white hood) form a light and spacious backdrop. The red tile backsplash is a perfect focial point to the cooking area. The wood beamed ceiling is beautifully graphic and other simple lines update this otherwise traditional French Country look.

Below, another traditional kitchen. Creamy, dreamy, warm monochromatic colors with minimal contrast. Of course, who would not want a cooking fireplace/oven in the kitchen? The sink is sensual and the terracotta tiles, while out of fashion right now, are classic, timeless, and wonderful.

Below, this dining room is: (pick your adjective!) Again - that creamy color throughout all architectural surfaces in various textures creates perfect flow. Even furnishings, doors and trim blend in seamlessly. Defines a timeless look in my opinion. 

Below: Fabulous. The shots of red are the glam that many French interiors incorporate so effortlessly - it's like it's in the dna of the population! Here we have warmth, coolness, color, texture, clean surfaces - an interesting mix of contrasts.

Below, I think when dining in this room, the conversation MUST be stimulating, don't you? It certainly sets the scene for joy, frivolity, and good times. The open doors to the outdoors add the element of nature and light.

Below, a small but awesome kitchen! Wow, just look at these elements - the copper pieces above the integrated hood, at one with the architecture of the room. The built in rotisserie and fabulous cooking center. A rustic sink and rustic built in/inset cabinetry. And that mustard colored striped table linen - love!

Below, some drama is clearly going on in this kitchen - the dark, rich, brown/black tones of tile surround built in cabinetry in this traditional design. Not the most beautiful kitchen, but the simple shapes, forms, colors and textures do bring style to this kitchen.

Somehow, I think I'd be happy with any meal that is prepared in these kitchens! They look like cooks' kitchens. I'd also love to tour each one to look closely at all materials used and to just sort of drink in the feeling of an authentic French Country kitchen. A cultural authenticity is the thread across these kitchens - can't you just feel it?

To see other posts I've done on le Tour in previous years, take a look at this post on French Country kitchens and this one on kitchens in French Chalets. This is such pure pleasure for me, I may add more throughout the Tour in the coming weeks. Do you like the French Country style?