Tying Styles Together In the Kitchen

Tying Styles Together In the Kitchen

Though an eclectic design looks easy to accomplish – a little bit of this and little bit of that, it’s actually one of the most difficult looks to successfully achieve. 

 What is eclectic? It is a vibrant, individual style that doesn’t adhere to any one major style or rule. It is a comfortable mix-and-match attitude; it’s the yin and yang of design style that must be met with balance. It is not a jumble of whatever catches your eye. 

Typically, eclectic is a combination of two major design styles such as contemporary, traditional, casual or Asian. It takes a lot of careful planning, good taste and an eye for stylish design to make it work. A great start in identifying your favorite styles is to clip magazine pictures and keep them in your wish file. Consult a certified kitchen designer to help you tie your favorite styles together. 

One of the most effective ways to achieve the eclectic look is with custom cabinetry. Because custom cabinetry is made specifically to your specifications, you can control the look and feel of each piece. A custom manufacturer, such as Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, which has been crafting custom cabinetry for over 35 years, can craft cabinetry in just about any style imaginable. They do not carry any inventory; each kitchen is built to the homeowner’s specifications. 

“Everyone has their own style. We’re seeing a mix of styles in one design,” said Vince Achey, VP of sales and marketing for Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry. “With custom cabinetry, unlike stock cabinetry, you can have several different doorstyles, colors and wood species all in one kitchen space. It’s all about what you want.” 

Once you identify your styles, you must have a working knowledge of the five basic design principles: line, color, texture, mass and form. Understanding the principles is the key to making an eclectic design fabulous. 

Line. Line creates movement and directs the eye. Lines can be straight, curvy, horizontal, diagonal or vertical. All of the elements in a room may offer line: the architecture, fabrics, furniture, appliances and especially cabinetry. Cabinetry lines can be used to move the eye towards the work area, the eating area or even into another room. Be careful, too many lines can make the space feel busy and confusing but too few lines can leave it feeling empty and unfinished. 

A balance of high and low base cabinetry can direct the eye to an architectural feature such as a skylight or even a fabulous piece of art. For example, use a low bump out cabinet with a wooden block top for cutting veggies to complement a higher marble top cabinet used for making candy. Different cabinet depths can also move the eye around the room with a balance of in and out. 

Color. Eclectic design works best when the elements relate in some fashion. Try combining different shades of the same color on different pieces of cabinetry. Use a base color of creamy vanilla with a coffee piping detail on very traditional wall units, but balance it on a sleek contemporary island done in the same tone of cream but with a coffee glaze. Though the pieces differ in style, they relate to each other through color. Mixing wood species and tones is another way to connect elements. Use grandmother’s antique maple sideboard with your contemporary wenge cabinets. 

 “A custom cabinetry shop will be able mix and match finishes and wood species for your desired effect,” said Achey. “At Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry we have a department specifically dedicated to custom colors. About 25 percent of the finishes we do each year are custom colors.” 

Texture. Texture can be used to create balance and connection. Texture adds visual interest. The texture of a rustic antique armoire juxtaposed to refined, smooth enameled cabinetry is quite striking. This typifies the yin and yang aspect of eclectic design. 

Mass. Mass refers to the amount of visual weight or space an object appears to have. A balance of visual weight creates balance and harmony of proportion. For example, a large island with many drawers and solid doors has a lot of visual weight whereas a taller one with glass fronted doors appears visually lighter. An easy way to create a difference in visual weight is to adjust the height and shape of the toe kicks. If some cabinets go flush to the floor, add a four inch toe kick with an apron to one of them. This will make the piece look as if it is an individual piece. 

Form. This refers to the actual shape of the elements of the room. The walls, furniture, doorways, accessories and appliances all have form. If the room is tall and slender, then the best choice for cabinetry should be tall and slender. The elements’ form should echo the form of the room’s architecture – no matter what the decorating style. 

Taking the five principles into account, today’s sense of style, desire for personal expression and the need for functionality all create the perfect foil for an eclectic kitchen. Use old with new, mix tones and colors, combine rough natural elements such as stone with smooth marble or primitive art with contemporary cabinetry. Remember, eclectic is about balance that creates character, beauty and fun.