Elements from nature. Asian design places a strong emphasis on bringing the outdoors inside through plants and natural motifs. Consider adding touches of glass or acrylic that has bamboo, grasses or leaves embedded within it, as in the shoji screen–style panels that front this kitchen window. You could also line cabinet panels with split bamboo stalks or add potted bamboo plants or wheatgrass to infuse the space with a sense of life.
Flush inset or framed cabinetry. The type of cabinet construction can have a significant impact on the way a kitchen looks. Full overlay or frameless cabinets are associated with a more contemporary way of building a cabinet — the door overlays the frame of the cabinet, and you don’t see any exposed hinges. Flush inset or framed cabinets are associated with an Old World way or furniture-style way of building cabinets. With this sort of construction, you’ll see the frame around the doors, and the doors and drawers are set flush with that frame. You’ll also see exposed piano hinges in silver, oil-rubbed bronze or even antique brass.
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Farmhouse kitchens. Warm and homey farmhouses anchored a life on the land, and they still offer great functionality and comfort. Their open shelving, wide sinks, classic flooring and big kitchen table make them easy to work in and easy to love.
Architectural details. Traditional kitchens focus on the details in all areas. There’s a bit of embellishment or adornment everywhere you look, but the best traditional kitchens just feel layered rather than overbearing. Speaking of details, this kitchen has it all — arches, moldings, beam ceilings, framed and raised-panel cabinets, a custom hood surround, chandeliers, furniture-style cabinets and, of course, island legs.
Open shelving. Installed in place of traditional upper cabinetry, open shelving recalls the days when kitchens were more utilitarian than decorative. Not only was cabinetry expensive, but open shelves allowed cooks to retrieve dishes and tools quickly. Today open shelves are as much about aesthetics as about practicality: Their openness helps make a space feel larger, and they often house accessories in addition to kitchen implements.