True Story: there were geese in my kitchen the first time I saw it. Flocks of Geese, marching around the room in a wall-paper boarder, and each of them wearing pink ribbons and blue bonnets. You’ll never see a photo of those birds because I yanked them down the day we moved in. It was my first home improvement. The kitchen and I may be country but neither of us has to be kitsch.
I know from Country kitchens because I grew up in those, clear back to my Mimmy’s house in southern Oklahoma. It was square-sized room, open enough to prepare meals for eight and feed them all at the kitchen table, provided everyone squinched up a bit. There was the obligatory oversized sink, usually something green growing in a jar in it’s window, and a view of Mimmy’s roses beyond. But most of all, her kitchen was built for purpose. It didn’t have whimsical wallpaper, “stunning” countertops, or decorative sconces. Its beauty was in its comfort and simplicity, its imperfections, and its age. That’s the kind of decor I can stand before Morning Coffee. Not anything cutesy or ironic.
And the fact is, My home has another country kitchen (well, I live in the country), from the countertops, to the wide wooden floors and view of green trees from the sink. There’s no changing that without major surgery, so I decided not try. Instead, I tried to create a country kitchen without the kitsch.
The gray cabinets were the first choice. Granted, Mimmy’s kitchen was mostly white, but I’ll tell you something: white shows every imperfection. When nicks happen, they stand out like acne. Grey is a bit more forgiving, especially if you glaze it afterwards
Then, there came the backsplash. This is where a lot of people start talking about “bling” and shiny subway tiles, two things I never saw in a farm kitchen. What I did see was bead board, a miracle substance you can wash and even paint, once it’s in place. Second secret: I love bead board. And I love what it did for my kitchen.
Finally, country kitchens are never far from nature, which may explain those goose-stepping geese in their granny bonnets. (Someone thought they were a good idea!) Farm wives I knew added reminders of nature and color, either with bits of greenery growing on shelves and ledges, or pictures of nature on their aprons, curtains and tea towels. Whatever they added wasn’t just pretty; it had a function. I try to remember that.
Like I said, I’m more of an inferior decorator than an interior one. But I believe in a few things. I believe in listening to a house and making only those changes that harmonize with the original design. I believe in knowing your own needs. And I believe that geese with bonnets belong on the covers of kids books, not the walls of my home.