For Genoa antiques lover Debby Karl, kitchen design is a gray area -- and that's just how she wants it.
Having previously painted her 1974-built home's original cabinets green, she took a more neutral approach when remodeling her kitchen last year. With a warm gray wall color as a starting point, she kept her galley and adjacent eating area's primitive feel while upgrading its functionality.
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The color coordinates perfectly with the stainless-steel appliances that Debby and her husband, Hoss, chose; the hue also provides the perfect complement to the new wood cabinetry.
"I knew I wanted to paint the walls that gray," Debby says. "I didn't realize how well everything matched until we painted."
Dark features -- a granite composite sink, bronze cabinet knobs and punched-metal lighting -- punctuate the gray and wood surfaces. And, Debby's antiques set an inviting, relaxing tone.
Another factor that puts the Karls at ease: They did the kitchen remodel entirely themselves, except for installing the new quartz counters. "We like to do most everything ourselves," Debby says.
"You can't always afford to make a change and pay somebody else to do it for you."
However, Debby welcomed outside suggestions for accessorizing her newly redone space. Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Debbie Plantery and Nancy Borsodi shared their ideas for turning the remodeled room into a rustic wonderland. Read on for 20 ways to give your kitchen the same weathered charm.
In the Woods
1. Find balance. Gray paint on the walls and wainscoting in the eating area provides a neutral backdrop for wood furniture that offers just enough contrast to keep the scene interesting. Debby also painted the wall cabinet's interior the same gray but antiqued it with dark wax.
2. Hue it right. Touches of color -- via quilted, star-themed textiles, greens in a basket and a painted firkin -- liven up the woodsy area.
3. Enhance the basics. Neutral surroundings make the perfect canvas for natural textures, such as the star-studded wreath on the wall, the lighted garland wrapped around an antique lamp stand and the old woven chair and footstool. "You can even add dimension with more wood, such as the treenware pitcher with wood utensils on the stepback hutch," Debbie says.
4. Mix and mingle. Although Debby opted for matching base and upper cabinets in her remodel, she kept a diverse feel by placing an old cupboard against the refrigerator. She also designed her kitchen to include lots of deep drawers that keep her cookware readily accessible.
5. Adorn your decor.To play up the antique cabinet's beauty, the stylists crafted a unique garland by stringing yarn-wrapped pine cones on jute alongside a pair of colorful mittens. On the cabinet top, a wood bowl helps set off a framed print and a petite lantern. "We also removed one of the apothecary drawers to create some additional display space," Sally-Jo notes.
6. Organize in style. Accentuating the dark sink and cabinet knobs, a black breadbox offers plenty of storage for kitchen odds and ends that Debby wants to keep hidden -- which frees up space for more fun additions, such as the wire egg basket holding an oversize jar candle.
7. End it on a high note. Instead of leaving the end of the cabinet blank, Debby hung an antique sifter and a few vintage cleaning tools to add interest to the empty area.
8. Soften up. A colorful braided rug spread on the hardwood floor helps cushion the room's wood features.
9. Light the way. Old-fashioned punched-tin light fixtures complete the galley kitchen's makeover; one pendant sheds light on a shelf that fits perfectly above the sink.
Snow and Tell
10. Diversify your assets. When determining the furniture placement for her eating area, Debby paired up a wide pie safe with a more petite wall cabinet to give the space some visual diversity. Screened doors on each piece showcase her treasured yellowware and other collectibles.
11. Bridge the gap. To fill the empty space between the pie safe and the cupboard, Nancy arranged a trio of similar-scale accessories with classic country character, including a primitive snowman, a basket of berries and a wood bowl hosting an electric canning jar candle with a star accent.
12. Tuck and cover. Another cute stuffed snowman, this one with a wreath around its base, finds a good resting spot in a galvanized tub decked out for the season with a snowflake ribbon band wrapped around its middle.
13. Build up. "Stacking some footstools is a great way to fill empty space and create a good place for a vignette," Nancy says. "It's a great trick for seasonal displays because they can be put up and taken down quickly."
14. Just sled it be. Here, a footstool tower provides a spot to rest an old wood sled with a painted sign attached. A dismantled grapevine wreath wound around the top and bottom of the sled brings in nature-made appeal.
15. Flake out. For additional winter whimsy, retask crocheted doilies as stand-in snowflakes. If you think they're too white to suit your country style, try tea-staining the doilies before decorating with them.
Nature of the Feast
16. Wrap things up. "I like winter decorating to feel warm and cozy to counteract the weather," Sally-Jo says. "We wrapped Debby's chairs in star-dotted tobacco cloths to soften them, and we used a runner on the table and a rug on the floor to add color and texture."
17. Be fruitful. From apples and oranges to berries and more, fruit is one of the easiest and thriftiest ways to work in color. Touches of red appear on the table courtesy of apples hollowed out to hold votive candles, which the stylists set in pewter cups and nestled into a treenware swine bowl.
18. Branch in. To further the fruit theme, the stylists also tucked crabapple branches into the top of a grapevine cone set on an old bucket. "If crabapples aren't in season, you can always wire on faux berries for a similar idea, depending on the look you want," Debbie says.
19. Knob it all. Suspended from a doorknob coat rack near the back door, a scale pan holding apples repeats the tablescape's motif.
20. Find a good gauze. Gauzy curtains let in light and gently frame rustic furnishings, including a three-bin cubby and a chair spindle hung on twine that holds a checked runner. At the base of the curtains, a stack of graphic boxes livens up the room at ground level.