Update an old-fashioned kitchen with tips from the Shakers - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Update an old-fashioned kitchen with tips from the Shakers

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2007 1:09 pm | Updated: 6:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: Our country kitchen was last updated in the 1970s and has the flat-faced white laminate cabinets with the wooden handle bars so popular at that time. We’re ready to replace the old appliances, but the cabinets are still in good shape. How can we get a more authentic country look without ripping them out?

Q: Our country kitchen was last updated in the 1970s and has the flat-faced white laminate cabinets with the wooden handle bars so popular at that time. We’re ready to replace the old appliances, but the cabinets are still in good shape. How can we get a more authentic country look without ripping them out?

A: There’s no reason to go through the mess and cost of ripping out perfectly good cabinets when you can change their appearance with paint. There are also some other details that you might want to consider for your kitchen update to enhance the country style you love. By utilizing elements of Shaker style as I did here, you’ll have a kitchen that is a peaceful and happy work space. We all can learn from the sense of simple practicality that is the cornerstone of Shaker style.

The laminate cabinets were prepared for paint by first sanding and then applying a high-adhesion primer meant to cover slippery surfaces. The base coats were two tones of blue — a dusty pale blue for the uppers and a muted medium blue for the lowers. To create the illusion of inverted panels on the doors, two L-shape stencils were cut from Mylar (plastic stencil sheets available at crafts stores). The ends of the stencils were cut at a 45-degree angle so that the painted panel strips would look mitered. To make the shading appear real, note where your light source is coming from. Ours was from a window on the right, so the top and left shadow lines are lighter than the base color. The lower and right lines are a few tones darker than the base coat.

The Shaker-style peg rail is an ingenious way of keeping the floor clear of clutter and easy to sweep clean. The rail is made from a 1-by-4-inch strip of wood with wood pegs inserted at regular intervals. The wood can be painted to match the room trim or the cabinets. The Shaker plate rack is a functional design that is a popular space-saver not only for country kitchens but also in contemporary rooms, where it may be constructed with plastic or metal. The original plate racks were built with pine boards and dowels.

A colorful rag rug, hand-woven baskets and traditional white and blue crockery are all features that add to the homey atmosphere of the Shaker tradition.

Q: My living room is currently French with beautiful inherited furniture. Although I love the furniture and it was my inspiration for becoming a wood carver, I’ve suddenly developed an overwhelming desire for Art Deco. The room is perfect for the transformation, but right now it is a white palette waiting for help.

A: There is plenty of inspiration to be found in books and on the Internet that captures this flamboyant style that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. If you’ve got the Art Deco bug, you will have a wonderful time decorating your living room. Known for sleek-lined furniture, smoky glass and dramatic geometric motifs, it is a style that loves to be glamorous. The signature color palette comprises complex colors of green, ocher and eggplant, and shades drawn from metals, especially copper and silver. For your living room, choose from variations of bottle green, jade or mint green and oyster or beige, perhaps having one focal wall of strong color. Bring the sense of geometry into play either in upholstery fabric or a brilliant carpet. You can really go all out and accessorize with a chrome and glass drinks trolley, and lighting that features the female form — think old Hollywood.

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