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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Country Kitchen

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Has your favorite style and decorating look 
changed over time? 
Were you once a pure traditionalist who 
became a shabby chic? 

For me, I've gone from American Country to
French Country.

The change did not happen overnight.
It took years.

Here's how my breakfast room looks now in 2013.

French country table, a French side chair 
with blue and white striped upholstery, 
fleur-de-lis adorned with scalloped-edged shelves metal plant stand, 
and dried authentic French Provence lavender in the blue and white crock. 

Take a look at the same space in the late 1980s 
when we first built our house. 

Back then the chairs surrounded my grandmother's 
dilapidated round oak pedestal table.
The tablecloth covered the badly damaged table. 

The other end of the kitchen was so dark. 
A carpenter custom built the solid pine cabinets and 
finished them with a clear sealer when the house was built.  
One of the first accessories with a French country look in my house was 
the folding wooden dish drainer rack that 
has been replaced twice over the years. 
Still love that design...  

With a gulp and a leap, I had my kitchen cabinets painted WHITE, and
replaced the first black appliances with white ones about six years ago. 
The dishwasher was the last black appliance replaced 
with a white one last year. 
Boy, those InSinkErator dishwashers were built to last a L-O-N-G time.

The AFTER view in 2013.

The house is post and beam construction, reminiscent of the 
wonderful barns in the northeast.  
Sawmill River Lumber Company located in western Massachusetts cut all 
the original wood for our house and shipped it to us on a flatbed truck. 
The posts and beams are structural, not just for looks. 
We left the ceiling and beams their unfinished natural color 
that has mellowed over the years. 

Oh so French to have natural beams! 

We added bead board around the island, on the wall behind the refrigerator, 
on the ceiling above the sink area, 
and on the walls around the sink.  
One of my favorite things we added are the 
curved wooden supports for the island overhang. 

The entire room is so much brighter. 

French-inspired designs keep me happy while washing dishes. 

The curved double-ogee edged white sink...
The blue Eiffel Tower clock...
The white ceramic with fleur-de-lis message board... 
The three bleu flower pots...
The sculpted ivy topiary...  
(oh so French to sculpt plants)

Using my skills as a former math teacher (geometry, trig, calculus, etc...), 
I drew the kitchen layout on graph paper when we built the house. 
Measured distances between each work area carefully 
for the tried-and-true triangle design pattern 
for the sink, stove, and refrigerator... 

The island is six-sided with an angled section so that the stovetop 
and the corner sink are back-to-back to one another.
(Trig came in handy here figuring the angles and lengths.
Our previous house had a galley kitchen 
with the stove and sink back-to-back. 
I discovered I like this layout for ease in cooking. 
I'm all for anything that makes cooking easier! 

The white limestone wall with a shelf is the back of the living room fireplace.
Love this wall...

 The open vertical spaces beneath the stovetop hold cutting boards, 
cooling racks, cookie sheets, and paper shopping bags.

The single most-loved part of my kitchen is 
the ceiling pine pot rack above the island. 
My husband built it for me as a Christmas present 
our very first Christmas in our house. 
He made it from the extra wood that the sawmill sent 
to build our house. 

Bifold doors close to hide the contents of the shelves and counter behind them. 

I like seeing the dishes so I leave the bifold doors open almost all the time. 

The island has three large drawers on the side opposite the bar stools. 
This is the only time you will see these drawers open.  
I just reorganized the top two drawers this week. 
Long over due! 
The bottom drawer is still a mess so it's not open. 
Let's see how long they stay this organized.  

Have you been wondering about that opening over the sink?  
The opening looks into the stairwell over the stairway landing. 
This gives me a view from the sink to the outside 
front entry area. 

The most important function, however, is the opening 
provides cross-ventilation and a breeze when we 
open the stairwell window and the sunspace windows. 

Kids love this opening!  
As soon as they discover it, they run onto 
the stair landing and peer into the kitchen, 
waving, talking, smiling, laughing, giggling. 

Oh, yes, the cats love it, too.  
They love climbing through it into the sink. 
Bad kitties!

Little touches of French design have been added over the years. 
French blue pots hold flowers, eggs, and a bunny.
The small white fleur-de-lis and gold crown are place card holders that
I use for signs to identify unsweet tea, apple cider, hazelnut coffee... 
The white fleur-de-lis board is great for greetings...
Joyeux Noël, Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, 
Good Luck at Bridge
The little butterfly plant stake was found in a home decor  
store in the heart of Paris. 

The last lingering touch of pure American Country is 
the wallpaper border along the top of the cabinets. 

There are no plans anytime soon to replace it.  
The pink, mauve, purple colored saltbox houses and alphabet  
remind me of the house's roots and my roots. 
This post and beam house is a saltbox in style. 
The alphabet is a reminder 
of my chosen profession, education. 

I will continue to add French Country, 
but my roots will always be American Country. 


  1. Your kitchen is so pretty and bright. Definitely a good move to paint your cabinets white! I like how efficiently designed it is.
    Mary Alice

  2. Judith, what a lovely, inviting space you have for your kitchen and breakfast area! I see friends there hanging out and helping chop veggies while visiting and maybe even sipping a glass of wine. I, too, made the transition from more of an American country to French country or at least I'm working at it. A friend once described my house as a "country store". I like to think of it as a French country flea market. Some of my pieces might be described as Early Attic. lol

  3. You've made such beautiful changes to your home over the years.

  4. Such a beautiful space Judith. I luv the changes you have made. Going back for another peek. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Beautiful post.
    Hugs, Gee

  5. Your kitchen is very beautiful. I love your sink and the faucet is really nice.

  6. Great kitchen and what amazing storage. Hugs, Marty

  7. I love your kitchen! I have been thinking of painting my cabinets white but it is going to be a daunting task. Was it easy to do? I really like the counter behind the sink too. That is such a fun space for your pretty decor.

  8. Oh, that kitchen is W O N D E R F U L !!!

  9. What a gorgeous light filled space! I love your floral dining chairs, and that view, too! Wonderful transformation.

  10. I agree with you, I've changed my style too, I would have never thought of chippy furniture some years ago.
    Very nice changes to your breakfast room and your kitchen. Your cabinets look wonderful in white.
    Besos from Argentina and thank you very much for your visit! Silvina

  11. You did a wonderful job to your kithcen. Its beautiful and very sophisticated! I am so envious right now! :( But very happy for you. :)


  12. Your kitchen is beautiful!!! So much space for everything and so many pretty spaces you have created. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Love your kitchen! Your ceiling is beautiful and I so wish I had your storage! Hopefully in our new kitchen. Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY, you've been featured.

  14. Gorgeous kitchen. I love all the storage. Great job!

  15. Your kitchen is just beautiful! I think you were smart to paint your cabinets white (and I don't usually say that), but it does truly make the open beam ceiling, the floor and especially all your pretty accessories really take center stage. I really like that area you can close off. It would take me no more than a nanno-second to make that my baking center, but I really like how you have accessorized the space.

  16. Awesome kitchen! I will feature this today at HSH!

    1. Sherry,
      I am honored and thrilled that you are featuring my kitchen at The Charm of Home. Thank you for hosting a wonderful linking party every week.


  17. Judith, thank you for sharing your lovely kitchen at Every Room In The House. You've done a grand job in creating a charming and inviting space. Painting the cabinets was the right thing to do. It brightened up the space nicely. I love the breakfast room, that fabulous limestone wall, the pot rack your husband made for you, and all your wonderful accessories. You must love cooking there. I know I would. Cheers ~ Nancy P.S. I'm a new follower. :)

  18. Your windows are gorgeous!!! I love the pot rack you husband built!!! I love the exposed brick!

  19. Hi Judith! I've featured your lovely kitchen in this month's Every Room In The House party. Thanks for sharing with us, and I hope you'll continue to join in the fun. This month we're partying in The Living Room. Warm regards ~ Nancy

  20. wow amazing, I really love it, this idea of french country kitchen which is very nice :)

  21. I have been following your post for several months and love your blog. I also am a big fan of warm wood tones, blues and whites. I also have a mix of American country with French Country, but I think I am destine to keep one foot in each camp:)
    Your before kitchen and my kitchen are very similar - I had similar cabinets, blue counters, white sink and brass faucet. I loved the cheerful combination. Alas, the counter became worn and it was time for a change. Where you painted the cabinets, I changed out the counter, added a backsplash and an apron front sink.

    I have also been inspired by your redone shed - so many ideas that I may apply to my laundry room to pretty it up. Thanks for sharing your lovely home.



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