Having just finishing flipping through a recent issue of Kitchen and Bath Ideas, a “special interest publication from Better Homes & Gardens, I was swimming in images of pristine, put-together kitchens where every aspect was planned cohesively. I admire the ability to plan and execute so thoroughly, but I also like a little mess: a room with real-life character feels lived in, gives me a sense of belonging, and more importantly and doesnʼt look destroyed after the kids have run through it.
The kitchen of my dreams showed up in the New York Times, in an article about a New Orleans couple, Karina Gentinetta and Andrew James McAlear, who built a new cottage, but made it look like it had been there 150 years. Their motivation? The couple had lost almost everything they owned to Hurricane Katrina, and their previous house stood on the very lot. They wanted to reconnect with their lost past, and it worked. Looking at their house now, youʼd never know it was built only three years ago.
Of the belongings in her new home, Karina says, “They all look like they have a history. All of us are damaged in some way, so why should we not love something that had a previous life to it? Just because it is old and damaged doesnʼt mean itʼs not beautiful.”
Try this at home
Whatever your reason, be it recreating the past, disguising kid mess, or just a deep adoration for lovingly worn things, take these tips on aging a kitchen fast:
- Shop vintage stores. True, you can find old-looking tables and dishes at high-end department stores. Youʼve got to pay for patina like that! Or you can shop the real deal: out-of the-way antiques shops with an ever-changing, unexpected mix of inventory. By the way, after building her house, Karina left her law career to pursue selling vintage furniture. Check out her online store here.
- Forget about matching. Karina picked things that grabbed her immediately or that she was willing to put time in to restore or otherwise improve. A collection of things that are loved by the owner look good together. The gold chandelier and farmhouse dining table are not a natural pairing, but look and youʼll agree, they work together!
- Peruse the scratch and dent sales. My first stainless steel appliance, a stove I had coveted for for a couple of years, was purchased at half price. Why? A dent in its side, which would never be seen since it was built-in, had lowered its value on the sales floor. For Karina, whose insurance payout after the hurricane was eaten up by her old mortgage, bargains like this were essential.
Do you have an old piece of furniture or a restored vintage appliance that takes the cake in your kitchen? Show us! Post a pic on our Facebook fanpage.