While all kitchens serve the same basic purpose, there are dozens upon dozens of different variations of this essential part of the home around the world. From French country style to Japanese minimalism, the room where we prepare our food take new forms based on the cultures that influenced them.
Here are four kitchen designs known the world over both for their functionality and their enduring appeal.
The American Shaker style is defined by its simplicity and its functionality.
This style was originally created by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, otherwise known as the Shakers. This Christian religious sect began in the 18th century and were notable for practicing pacifism, community-driven lifestyles, and equal treatment of men and women.
Ornamental design aspects, such as engravings and carvings, are nowhere to be found in the Shaker-influenced kitchens. Instead, the Shaker style focuses on beauty in simplicity and form.
The Shakers would make their cabinets, drawers, and other furniture as simple as possible, as they were meant to serve a purpose rather than draw the eye to artistic details.
The French Country style is defined by its rustic aesthetic and its focus on ornamental additions.
Vastly different than the Shaker style, the French Country kitchen is intentionally decorated and designed to create an elegant yet welcoming space.
Tapestries and fabrics with farm animal designs are commonplace in the French Country style. Tea towels with scenes of the countryside, salt and pepper shakers shaped like animals, and other rustic-inspired elements are integral to the enduring appeal of this style.
To add that layer of rustic elegance to the kitchen, the French Country style also relies upon floral fabrics offsetting earthy colors. The cabinets, drawers and tables are often stained in different shades of brown, from dark mahogany to light tan, while multicolored fabrics and drapes breathe color and life into the space.
The Italian Tuscan style is defined by its elaborate fixtures, distressed woodwork, and use of mosaic tiles.
As the name suggests, the Italian Tuscan style comes from the Tuscany region of Italy, known for its incredible artistry and delicious cultural dishes. The Tuscan kitchen was designed to be able to prepare a huge variety of foods while maintaining a beautifully semi-rustic and welcoming environment.
Furnishings in the Tuscan kitchen vary greatly, but are always centered around elaborate and ornamental design. An island may resemble a small cathedral with elaborate flying buttress-like beams upholding its corners and elaborate carvings in the woodwork. Cabinets and drawers may be relatively simple, but never a single color.
Distressed and old-world finishes are used commonly, but it is also common for cabinets to have images and even colorful designs painted on the doors.
An integral part of any Tuscan kitchen is tiling. Large, mosaic tiles may be color coordinated to the rest of the kitchen, or be multicolored and eye catching to brighten and liven the space.
The Japanese Minimalist style is defined almost entirely by its functionality and its efficient use of space.
This style has been used for centuries to conserve space without sacrificing the utility of the kitchen, and is becoming more popular the world over as competition for living space increases.
Japanese Minimalist styles do not rely on unnecessary elaborate designs or ornamental additions in any way. Instead, the kitchen serves a purpose and that purpose alone.
While these kitchens may take up a small amount of space, the room feels more open and larger than the other styles on this list. Everything is put away in cabinets or drawers, there is little to no clutter, and every element from the cabinets to the stovetop are geometric and exactly the size they need to be.
Most Japanese Minimalist kitchens are entirely white, but some contemporary designs use stainless steel or other mellow colors to maintain a utilitarian mood in the space.