HOM Mixing modern, traditional in kitchen

King Syndicate Features

Dear Debbie: The century-old apartment building we live in has high ceilings and large windows with deep trimwork. We are decorating one room at a time in keeping with the age and architecture. The kitchen floor is still in good shape; it's vintage black and white mosaic tile. But the cabinets and sink need to be replaced, and we are unsure of how to mix our new stainless-steel appliances with this traditional look. Any guidance is appreciated. -- Richard

Dear Richard: Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen should take the most consideration and planning. It is the costliest to renovate, and therefore you want the design decisions to have lasting appeal. You may only have the opportunity to redo a kitchen once in your lifetime, which can make the challenge a little scary, as well as exciting. Careful research will always pay off. Keep at it until you are confident your plan meets your personal criteria.

In the galley-kitchen makeover shown here, the homeowners had just purchased a stainless-steel cooktop and oven, but they wanted the overall kitchen design to have a traditional country ambiance. Their choices of glass-front upper cabinets, simple flat-faced doors and open shelves mimic features of a Shaker country kitchen. Clean design lines keep the eye moving. The thickness of the shelves matches the width of the flat border trim on the cabinets. The backsplash is comprised of linear subway tiles, and the straight line of the long marble counter is reflected in the black tile stripe that runs parallel to it on the floor.

There are plenty of modern chrome and brushed-steel accents to complement the new appliances -- a more practical double sink, a retro arched faucet, sculpted chrome handles on the cabinets, a sleek toaster and a shiny kettle. But the nostalgic palette of white and black, traditional materials and vintage floor combine to make this new kitchen timeless.


Displaying crockery, canisters and other kitchenware is a popular trend once again, and what you choose to show off will always give the room added character.

A note about subway tiles: They've been popular for many years, but are now available in a variety of sizes and shapes in ceramic, metal and glass. You can apply them in the usual brick-layer fashion or alternate with square tiles to create a focal pattern, as shown behind the stove top. The wall is painted in a pale stone gray that matches the grout lines.

Dear Debbie: Our en suite bathroom has a gray tub, toilet and sink, which we are not able to replace at this time. Our master bedroom has a dark navy carpet, Granny Smith apple green walls and rosewood furniture. I am looking for a color scheme for the bathroom. Should I go gray walls, or white or black or yellow? Thanks. -- Frances

Dear Frances: An en suite bathroom does not have to match the adjoining bedroom, but it makes good design sense to incorporate a connection between the two rooms. I would paint the walls a soft powder blue -- this will tie in with your navy carpet, and will also introduce an appealing contrast for the gray bath fixtures. Fluffy white towels are always inviting. Then look for the wide range of bath accessories to add some punch. Soap and cosmetic dispensers, baskets and bins, hooks and towel racks, mirror and picture frames are all features that give you an opportunity to inject color and style. Go for a dash of the bedroom's green or navy to complete your bathroom.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. E-mail your questions to

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