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Design Inspiration: Contemporary Country
An Emphasis on Ease
At a summer cabin, relaxation is the goal, so having lots of comfortable places to sit is a must. Couches are arranged to take advantage of lake views during the day or a cozy fire on a crisp evening. "We don't want guests to worry about messing anything up, so slipcovers and pillowcases have to be washable," says the homeowner. She also wanted a large square table to anchor the grouping, so guests could put their feet up or their drinks down. "I ended up having the table made, with storage underneath and a steel top," she says. "It turned out to be more inexpensive than anything I'd found." A small vestibule adjoining the living room is furnished for sitting and removing muddy sandals, or for private chats away from the crowd.
Simple Surfaces and Open Spaces
Given the go-ahead to completely dismantle the old, worn-out kitchen, Kettles had the luxury of starting with a blank slate. In the new plan, he crafted a contemporary country atmosphere in the kitchen by replacing appliances, cabinets and counters with budget-friendly ready-mades from a big-box store, including Shaker-style doors and a farmhouse sink. To keep the small space open, the designer eliminated upper cabinets in his new plan, using shelves to replace the lost storage. Paneling, installed horizontally and painted over, adds a strong linear element, and natural-hued fabric shades and wooden counters introduce a warm note and some subtle texture. Kettles also kept ornamentation to a minimum, relying in large part on the colors and patterns of the dishes to accessorize. Even the poster is more than a vintage eye-catcher: It's mounted and hinged within a shallow frame to conceal an electrical panel.
The central feature of the dining room is the custom table, topped and rimmed with zinc. The hosts aren't worried about tabletop mishaps or wear. "The more stuff that's spilled on it, the more character it will have," says the homeowner. Coincidentally, she found new dining chairs with backs that echo the table's custom base. Overhead, an old French industrial lamp contributes to the room's metal touches. Even the garden worktable has a galvanized metal insert so it can serve as a dry bar for refreshments. Keeping the look simple and costs in check, the homeowner also had ready-made grommet-topped drapery panels sewn together to cover floor-length windows. Ready-made chair pads and fresh hydrangeas from the garden give the room a blue note.
A Clear Color Scheme
"If you start with a clear concept of colors, it makes shopping easier and more efficient," notes the homeowner. The basic blue-and-white color scheme throughout her family's cabin evolved from similarly colored Dedham pottery she and her husband had from their first years of marriage. After that, she notes, "Everything fell into line, from the blue-striped chairs we weren't using anymore to the natural influences of the colors of the stone, the lake and the hydrangeas that surround the cabin." Originally, all floors, walls and ceilings in the cabin were pine. To soften the look, walls and ceilings were painted white; for contrast, putty-colored paint on floors blends with the stone fireplaces. Wicker and seagrass rugs pick up soft natural tones, while accessories and a custom padded headboard toss in additional elements of blue. The homeowner changes the art over the fireplace to complement the season.
The Fun Factor
In a corner of the living room, the homeowner created a whimsical spot for cards and board games, using an old table she discovered at an antiques market. Its well-worn surface bears its original paint; the legs were shortened for comfortable seating. The coordinating chairs are not antiques. "I actually discovered those in the clearance area of a furniture store," says the homeowner. To light the area, a floor lamp was fashioned from an old surveyor's tripod, also with its original paint. The wall's one accessory is an old window frame, which has been fitted with a mirror to reflect the lake view.
Outfitted with all new cabinets and appliances, the kitchen still retains a country flair thanks to a bold, casual plaid floor pattern made with three colors of vinyl tiles. "It's a fresh look that's easy to maintain," says Kettles. The homeowner discovered the vintage cupboard at a sale, and uses it to store glasses and wine goblets. "And yes, that's its original paint!" she says. Also apt is the display of vintage cheese graters surrounding an old blue washboard, hung above the sink. "The key is editing," notes Kettles.
Bonus: In the entry, an old bench discovered in a vintage furniture shop by the homeowner bears its original paint, as do accessories also chosen for their color. Cushions were made from flour-sack fabric.
Photos by Gridley & Graves.
Video: Design inspiration for an intimate dining/living space
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