Country Kitchen Trends
PUBLISHED: 09:26 23 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:44 20 February 2013
In this February issue we look at how to achieve the latest look for country kitchens
Country Kitchen Trends
Robin Doyle from Treyone Woodcraft looks at this year's trends in country-style kitchens
Most people's image of a country-style kitchen probably includes an aproned housewife happily cooking on an Aga with a dog curled at her feet, freshly picked flowers resting on the draining board of a Belfast sink, a larder cupboard stacked with home-made preserves, dresser shelves filled with an array of jugs, plates, tea cups, and children colouring on the central table... how we long for those safe, secure days before credit crunches and resource depletion. But is there any reason why we can't create this safe haven in the 2009 country-style kitchen and do our bit to be more eco-friendly?
Let's start with the Aga. This iconic appliance still regularly forms the heart of many country-style kitchens. Sales of the oil-fired versions may have plunged dramatically in the last 18 months, with the price of oil at over 50p per litre, but orders for electric-powered Agas are doing well. The choice in electric is either the Night Storage version, with the lowest running cost, or the 13-amp version available in 2, 3 or 4 oven varieties. The 13-amp Aga now comes complete with AIMS (Aga Intelligent Management System), which optimises the use of power by sending the Aga into slumber mode once cooking's done - good news for your electricity bill and the environment.
Cost and the environment are not most people's considerations when choosing an Aga, however. The look, the constant warmth, versatility and instant availability generally provide the pull, but with the increasing trend to consider green issues, the Aga website provides some encouragement. Approximately 70% of each Aga is made from recycled iron: old car gearboxes, guttering, lamp posts, etc and they don't end up in landfill sites themselves. Typically people buy three or four ordinary cookers in a lifetime - but they only need one Aga. An Aga can replace many appliances: toaster, kettle, breadmaker and, of course, there's no need for radiators in the kitchen and often in the surrounding rooms.
There are hints of a trend for a switch to wood as a fuel for cooking and heating in the home. This isn't practical for many people but some hardy souls are making the change. Two cooker/boiler manufacturers, Rayburn and Esse, have both seen considerable increases in sales of woodburning or wood-pellet-burning models. Burning wood is often a labour-intensive and messy operation but as other fuels become scarcer and more costly, these downsides will become less important.
Another classic of the country-style kitchen is the white fireclay ceramic sink (such as Belfast or Butler). These remain very popular and I see no reason why this won't continue in 2009. These are great-looking sinks and give a real lift to any design, with their soft curves and the projecting fronts creating an interesting break in a line of cabinets. There is a wide selection of shapes and sizes and many are spacious to cope with oven-grills and extra-large pots and pans. Historically, the downside of these sinks was the grotty little areas where the worktop overhangs the sink edges, plus the tendency for wooden draining boards to rot. However, with proper installation and the right choice of worktop these issues are easily overcome.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, our country-style kitchens invariably included tiled worksurfaces finished with a wooden edge. These looked fantastic when first fitted, with all the variations in colour, shading and texture offered by ceramic tiles, but over the years their popularity has waned as cleaning grout lines, oiling wood edging and working on uneven surfaces lost its attraction. Now by far our most popular choice for worktops in all styles of kitchen is granite. This will almost certainly continue to be the case in 2009, with perhaps a shift away from black granite to the lighter shades of pink, white or grey. Quartz-based worktops are becoming increasingly popular; they've got all the same basic characteristics as granite but with the added bonus of extra strength - particularly important around cut-outs, and they have much less porosity, making those red wine or grease stains less likely. These quartz or composite tops also come in a wider range of colours than those of natural granite.
For the ultimate in easy-clean worktops the acrylic-bonded, mineral-based tops like Corian® are an excellent choice. The bulk of this range may be considered too hi-tech for a country-style kitchen but some of its latest offerings can create that relaxed country feel. Corian has its green credentials, too, in that it's a very robust and long-lasting product, totally repairable, and uses by-products from aluminium mining in its construction.
Wooden worktops have continued in popularity in recent years. They are generally regarded as the most natural and ecologically sound choice and, of course, they do look very good in country-style kitchens. The choice of woods is limited and some are more suitable than others, depending on the willingness of the owner to undertake routine maintenance in cleaning spills and regularly oiling the worktops.
Our most popular cupboard door for country-style kitchens is a traditionally made very simple square-framed door with a flat centre panel - commonly termed 'Shaker'. I see this continuing in 2009, with perhaps a shift in some finishes. In recent times the most popular choices have been oak for the natural wood fans and cream for the paint fans. Oak will carry on being a popular choice, in either selected English or French oak, with knots, splits and pippy features for that rustic look, or American oak for those who want to create a more modern feel to their kitchen. We've noticed a movement in the choice of painted kitchens to a light paint wash on a grainy timber such as ash, usually with a natural matt finish. The choice of colours also seems to be shifting from cream to off-whites.
So what will the 2009 country-style kitchen be like? The predictions are that sustainability will be key and that durable, long-lasting products and materials will be favoured.
Treyone Woodcraft Limited (01503 240922