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This sunny Cockeysville kitchen may spur daydreams of a centuries-old French country home, but it’s loaded with modern and elegant touches.

Take the island, for example. The glaze was oh-so-gently distressed to create a look of antiquity, and the granite top was honed for a matte finish instead of the usual slick shine.

“It gives you a distinctly Old World feel,” says designer Blue Arnold of Kitchens by Request. “It looks like the granite has been used for hundreds of years.” But its modern secrets include dishwasher drawers and a working sink.

Likewise, the beams across the ceiling seem rustic, until you realize they are cherry, with detailed mouldings that are mirrored in the cabinets. The walls are treated to look like limestone, and the floors— with tiles in a variety of sizes— are colored to match.

For the ultra-modern Viking stove, an alcove was created, complete with a mantel above. “It was representative of the Old World fireplace,” Blue says. “We just kind of inserted the modern appliance.” On either side, hidden by that beautiful cherry paneling, are narrow pullout shelves, the perfect size for jars of spices. With the drawers closed, it’s very easy to imagine you’re back in the days of growing and drying your own.

RESOURCES: Kitchens By Request, 410-557-6857

Country Charm

Old and new, country and city. Though this kitchen is only 2 years old, it’s part of a house that dates back to the 1840s. And the Hunt Valley house, situated on four bucolic acres, is only minutes from the city.

Owner Dianne Carroll designed her kitchen to happily embrace these contradictions.
To counter the severity of the black cabinets and appliances, she painted the walls a warm yellow and added brick flooring, treated to a shine. Window treatments, painted by artist Carol Offutt, and a pine-topped island add to the casual charm, as do the distinctive copper counters, liberally (and literally) beaten with tools to create a unique mottled effect.

The 22-by-40-foot addition, created by architect Peter Ratcliffe, was constructed when Dianne and her husband, Charles, moved in two years ago. It’s large enough to include a fireplace, a dining area and a handy powder room.

“We just always wanted a kitchen with a fireplace, so this is our version,” Dianne says.

But the fireplace, with its cozy paisley-and-plaid seating group, creates a tantalizing
conundrum: Where to eat? By the fire, or at the comfortable table, with its wicker chairs. Or how about right outside on the screened porch, overlooking the rolling green fields? 

RESOURCES: Architect, Peter Ratcliffe, 410-484-7010; Window treatments, Carol Offutt, 410-675-2621

Island Life

A large and brand-new kitchen runs the risk of looking like a cabinet-lined football field. But this Lutherville kitchen, built in 2002, is anything but sterile. The room, large enough to house a fireplace with a cozy seating arrangement and a family dining area, feels almost cozy. Knotted cherry floors add dimension, as do the cabinets— painted white, then glazed to look antique. To boost visual appeal, some cabinet doors are filled with antique glass, while others are left solid.

An enormous brushed pewter chandelier anchors the ceiling, which is 10 1/2-feet high, and the autumnal colors of its shades mirror a painting of tulips on the fireplace mantel, bringing the vast space between the two closer together. 

The kitchen’s centerpiece, an island more than 12 feet long and 4 feet wide, could have been an enormous slab of blah, but it’s saved by both shape— a portion is raised to create an eating area— and color, a distinctive black-and-white granite.

That granite, along with the custom black paint of the island’s base, appears again in the butler’s pantry. This tiny space, perfect for mixing drinks, doesn’t pose the same design challenges as the rest of the kitchen. But with its seeded-glass cabinets, subtle gray artwork and hammered pewter sink, it, too, is both old-fashioned yet completely new.

RESOURCES: Keener Kitchen, 717-244-4544; Feeney Interiors, 410-561-8907

Two in One

This kitchen renovation was really two projects in one. The 30-acre Hunt Valley property (once a tannery) has several outbuildings, including one now used as a guest cottage. When the Rougeot family built an addition on their 1832 home and created a new kitchen, they moved their old stove and fridge to the guesthouse, turning its small kitchen, with its pine-beamed ceilings, maple cabinetry and countertops of honed blue limestone, into a rustic charmer.
   
Meanwhile, the mainhouse kitchen (above) feels organic to the home’s 1832 time period, thanks to irregularly shaped slate tiles on the floor, textured limestone countertops and rustic pine beams in the ceiling.
 
The cabinets are a warm, buttery yellow, and the island, which has two refrigerator drawers, is tiled in a brighter shade of yellow. The effect, says Vicki Rougeot, is “not strictly country, but still old-looking— not bright, shiny and modern-looking.”
 
The slate floor and beamed ceilings were carried into the adjacent family room, which boasts a dining area and cozy stone fireplace with comfortable seating. Naturally, everyone congregates in those two rooms, Vicki says. Sometimes she has to remind herself to use the rooms in the rest of the house! 

RESOURCES: Architect, Greg Weidemann, 301-652-4022

Bull Roast

The owners of this 1917 Guilford home are collectors— in a big way. “Big” as in many of their pieces— including an antique carousel giraffe and Native American statues— are larger than life. But when renovating their kitchen, they built the design around just a few, smaller pieces, all with bulls on them.
 
Above the stovetop, two bulls gaze out from the carved front of an old pot-bellied stove. More bulls can be found in the blue-and-white tile fitted into a custom-made cabinet of rich cherry wood and in a nearby small wall hanging. 
 
The kitchen, formerly a dropped-ceiling-and-linoleum nightmare, now boasts state-of-the-art modern conveniences, yet exudes a turn-of-the-century sensibility to match the rest of the house. Texture plays a big role, in everything from easy-to-clean terra cotta tiles on the floor to a rough-hewn limestone backsplash. Even the ceilings, cross-hatched with cherry beams, were sponge-painted for even more texture, then hung with Art Deco-style chandeliers.
 
The center island, topped in a dark granite to match the custom tabletop, provides contrast to the lighter color of the countertops. And its modern conveniences include a second sink and a built-in microwave.
 
No bull about that.

RESOURCES: Ilene Silberg, SD Kitchens, 410-653-1309

Lively Contemporary

A truly modern look can strike some as impersonal, but the owners of this Bel Air home wanted a kitchen that said “come on over and stay a while.”
 
While the polished steel, cool frosted glass and clean-lined Scandinavian cabinetry clearly broadcast a contemporary sensibility, curved lines and the clever use of color create a space that’s fun and user-friendly.
 
The hood of the stove, a contemporary mix of steel and glass, is softened with curved lines, and the backsplash, with its mix of 1-inch-square iridescent glass tiles, creates a sparkling focal point. For even more visual appeal, Blue Arnold of Kitchens by Request built a marble frame inside the backsplash to add more visual interest and “take off that too-modern edge,” he says.
 
Ecologically friendly bamboo floors and easy-to-maintain Corian counters also lighten the look, while keeping it of-the-moment.
 
The first step in this remodeling job was knocking out a wall between the kitchen and dining room. That left a too-low window in the new kitchen, but problem became opportunity when Blue created a window seat under it, upholstering it in a breathable cloth that resembles leather.
 
Seating with the same leather-look covering can also be found around the polished granite island, which has a cooktop as well as pullout refrigerator doors, making it the ideal place to cook while chatting with guests.

RESOURCES: Kitchens By Request, 410-557-6857

Heart of the home

Maria Fleischmann swears her made-from-scratch pasta comes out best when she’s listening to Italian music, so sopranos obligingly warble over the sound system as she mixes egg yolks and flour by hand on the granite surface of her kitchen island.
 
For Maria and her husband, Barry, chef/owner of Innovative Gourmet catering, the kitchen is truly the beating heart of their home, more so than the family room it originally was. The couple consulted Trish Houck of Kitchen Concepts to make the conversion.
 
The 22-foot-high ceiling became a visual focal point with the help of blue painted squares framed in white moulding, but of course, it’s the stove that takes center stage. The 64-inch-wide French blue Diva de Provence stove— more expensive than some cars— was irresistible to the couple. And once they had that, they created an entire French country theme around it, from the ceramic roosters crowing from atop the refrigerator to the blue-and-white gingham peeking out from behind the top row of honey-glazed cabinets.
 
An enormous yet simple black iron chandelier hangs over the island where Maria rolls out her pasta dough. Even the nearby kitchen table is larger than average— a 7-foot rustic pine rectangle surrounded by rush chairs. Because the ceiling is so high, Maria says, “everything you put in here has to be oversized, or else it looks funny.”

RESOURCES: Trish Houck, Kitchen Concepts, 410-461-3510; The Valley Craftsmen, 410-366-7077

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