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Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Posted by palimpsest (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 27, 11 at 20:08

"Tuscan" kitchens, or the subject of, show up on the Kitchen Forum and there is a lot of discussion of how there really is no such thing, or that the American version doesn't represent what a real kitchen in Tuscany would look like.

When I was looking for the "real thing" I came to the conclusion that a lot of Italian vernacular kitchens look like IKEA stuck in a really old house. Anyway...

The task is to come up with a "tasteful Tuscan", neo-Tuscan, or "TuscAmerican" kitchen, one that evokes the old world but is quintessentially an American idea that would fit into an American house. So nothing with sagging plaster ceilings and cracked beams unless the entire house looks that way.

The rules by Marcolo, revised for this project:
Do your homework first. Remember what we said earlier about design cliches? Rather than assuming what a Tuscan kitchen looks like, go look at some. Look at real Italian kitchens and American "Tuscan" kitchens but don't slavishly copy an existing kitchen. Use the existing American versions to analyze what is good about them and what is cliche.

Put it in context. Your design should flow from the look of the house.
Use a realistic budget. Go high or low, but keep it real.
Update your design so it works for today's family. You can use modern materials and appliances or go vintage instead. Just make sure your choices are practical and functional now.

Show your work. Explain and rationalize your choices.
Critique others and accept criticism yourself. You spend a lot of time on your design, and you deserve some constructive feedback, good and bad. Don't make criticisms personal, and don't take criticisms personally. This isn't a finished kitchens thread so nobody has to pretend to like something they don't.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE:Real Tuscan Kitchens

To get the ball rolling, here are some kitchens in rural Tuscan rental properties:
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Vs Tuscan 'style' kitchens

American "Tuscan style kitchen" search turned up these pictures and everything in between. The middle one was the topic of a thread.
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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Hi pal, this is not going to be easy thats for sure. The main thing I noticed while in Italy was the lack of upper cabinets. The other thing that got me to thinking while there is that you don't really see all that much high tech high end modern, I mean you do see it but its not as common as Americans think. The cabinets that are real wood are made really nice and the doors are thick and solid. I don't think I saw cabinet doors that were less than 1" thick.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

No, it's not going to be easy, which is why it should be a fun challenge. I think it's complicated by the idea that we all know what a "Tuscan-style" kitchen looks like, but also know that the style is only loosely based on real European kitchens and if not carefully done, can be cliche-ridden.

I doubt any of us will be able to design a kitchen without inserting some cliches, but the problem is which and how many to use.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Points deducted if you use one of the following:


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Hmmm. I would say points deducted if you used them in a cliched manner. What if the putto was an entire floor in Bisazza Mosaico glass? Of course then you may be uncomfortable ever wearing a skirt.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

lol, circus

I think you should use ALL of the foregoing, tee hee


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I was inspired by the plaster walls and chimneys of some of the Tuscan kitchens I found in my searching. But in what kind of home would that make sense and not seem contrived? I focused more on getting the feel of an old Italian farmhouse and less on the elaborate carvings and appliques of some versions I've seen of faux Tuscan. I debated including a tile mural over the cooktop, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

This kitchen is in a newly-constructed straw-bale home in California's Napa Valley and belongs to a retired couple. The husband is recently retired from a company that installs solar panels on homes, and had a long career in energy-efficiency and sustainable technologies. Given his background, he wanted the home to be sustainable, energy-efficient, and make extensive use of recycled materials.

The home features passive solar design. The south-facing wall is dominated by a floor-to-ceiling arched window like the one shown. The floors are textured stained concrete, for thermal mass. The ceiling features beams made from reclaimed telephone poles.
(The window and beams are from greenpassivesolar.com and are from a real passive solar Quonset hut).

For the walls they used American Clay natural earth plaster

Cabinets by Monticello and are new no matter how ridiculously beat up they look. They waffled about a counter because they liked the look of stone, but couldn't reconcile themselves to the fact that it was non-renewable and most of it was shipped from overseas. So they went with Richlite Baguette (recycled paper).

Open shelving with Fiestaware. I couldn't find a photo of what I really wanted for open shelves; these are in the ballpark but not "it."

Plaster rangehood, wine Rack (it's Napa, gotta have one)

Cabinet knobs (These are actually Majolica from Italy; my one nod to things that are actually Italian); and Talavera tile for the backsplash

Bakers rack and copper pot rack from salvaged plumbing pipe

Lighting

Reclaimed wood table


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

This is a "Tuscan style" kitchen I built a few years back. There were various restrictions so to me it turned out okay but with all the research I have done in this style of house today given a blank canvas I could really go to town.
Over the top American/Tuscan style has nothing to do with a real Tuscan Kitchen. On the other hand Americans would want nothing to do with a real Tuscan kitchen. I do believe you can achieve a balance and create something really great. There are a lot of elements that can be used to get you there. I will list some of them later. Sleep now.
John
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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

A couple in their mid 40's and no children want to recreate their new to them home in the spirit of the Tuscan villa that they rented for their honeymoon 15 years ago. Since their home is one of those "Mediterranean mish mash style" homes created in the building boom but never finished, they feel that choosing cues from their Italian trip would work well.

This was the kitchen in that villa.
And they purchase this print to serve as another inspiration.

They pick up some faux pine beams and faux stone rather than the real thing because it's much more affordable. The stone is a close match to the stone used on the home's exterior so they will use the stone over all of the walls in the kitchen and dining area. They choose real black slate for the floor also because it's affordable and they need dark tones to ground the space.

And since they saw so many large hearths with woodstoves or cookstoves placed in them, they decide to use the stone to create a giant arched hearth on one wall to place the range and a few cabinets in. They will use the blank space created in the false wall as a large pantry accessible from the hallway.

Pine is a relatively inexpensive and rustic local material, so they choose pine cabinets in two styles, one with a natural finish and one with a olive green sheer stain. The natural pine topped with Pine Green granite will go next to the black Bertazzoni and the stained green with a natural pine wood top will go next to the Kohler drainboard sink that has an olive print curtain hiding the plumbing.


They don't want the appliance look of a fridge, so they choose a fully integrated SubZero and have it built into a black armoire style cabinet to match the black Berta.

The kitchen is open to the dining room, so the green pine china cabinet goes on the wall between the two spots across from the ebonized pine trestle table with plain pine rush chairs.

They realize they've chosen some dark finishes, so they pick up two wrought iron chandeliers, one for the dining table and the other for over the green island. They also pick up several iron sconces. Since they will be using a limited number of upper cabinets, they will use sconces along the main wall to light their work surface.

They aren't doing any real wall cabinets, but they will need a wrought iron pot rack and a pine plate cabinet to keep organized.

The whole thing goes together well, even though they need more fabric to soften the hard surfbaces. They are still looking for the right rug for under the dining table and for at the sink. They're thinking casual rag rug with greens greys and blacks, but it's been hard to find.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

So far, so good.

One thing that I noticed in my searches is that although the Amerituscan kitchen is heavily into active, elaborate granite countertops, I haven't seen a granite countertop like this in a real Italian kitchen. Also, I have noticed that the granites that are native to Italy are heavily skewed toward speckly black and grey with another color and seem more applicable to headstones than counters, and they are not the active patterned earthy colors we associate with the "Tuscan" kitchen of America.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

OOH this is hard for me I tried a very mod kitchen, cause that is what I see when I googled real italian kitchens and I failed. Then I tried to do a rustic Italian farm feel rather than grape and wine, and what I have come up with is quite dull and I am having a hard time adding color that works:(. Well here is my try.
It is in a loft in an urban US city where a young couple with no children reside. They will use italian materials and have a somewhat unfitted feel. It is a DYI project.

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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Live oak wire, who makes the sconce you showed? I need something similar. Thanks.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Allison, Unique Iron Lighting makes that sconce. I just Google Image'd "wrought iron sconce" and that was one of the first images to come up. I have no experience with them personally but everything they have on their site is handmade and great looking.

Couldn't you just see this sconce in an old Tudor home's cellar? You'd be looking for the Inquisitor over your shoulder every time you went down the stairs!

Here is a link that might be useful: Unique Iron Lighting


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

The rawness of the last one would be perfect for a loft. It wouldn't work in a conventional house, and I think that is where some people try too hard with this look in a conventional house.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

re: granite use in Italy. A good friend of mine is from Lucca in Tuscany. According to her, Carrara Marble is the go to counter top in the region (and probably in Italy generally). Carrara (the city) is in Tuscany remember. Most homes have it, always honed, not polished. My friend's kitchen in Lucca does have carrara counters, but her counter here in Canada is Silestone I think.

I'll be using Carrara whenever I get around to responding to this design challenge.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Love this post! My husband and I have traveled throughout much of Italy many, many times. We've made several friends there during our travels and we love the culture, the regional foods and wines, the truffles and the people.

I'm in the midst of an Old World-Tuscan home renovation. My home in the mountains was built with large wood beams so the interior architecture works well with what we are doing. We had all of the ceiling beams rough-hewned and stained dark. We brought in a guy from Mexico who works with a company here in the US who does exclusively as he called it "plaster-stucco the old-way". Though we didn't go so far as to put the straw in the plaster, it brings the Tuscan charm to the walls. We decidedly did not do Venetian plaster, which is more smooth.

We arched all of our doorways and we've bought solid wood hand-scraped custom doors done in Mexico as well. Here is the door in my guest house that we'll also use in our main house.

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We are planning to do an over-grout stone fireplace in our kitchen. This is my "experimental Fireplace" in my guest house.

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And a stone fireplace in our living room...something like this...
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We are also doing a over-grout stone wine "closet"...wish we had the place to put an actual walk-down cave-like cellar.

Here are some photos of Tuscan kitchens/rooms I had in my concept photos:

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Though as you say, I've been forced and also made choices to not create an exact replica of a Tuscan kitchen/home. i.g. Building codes require DV fireplaces, no wood burning here...and I'm not sure how many Tuscan Farmhouses will have a Wolf Range...but though our views are a Lake and not Vineyards, I'm trying very hard to create the same "feel" that we have when we walk into our friend's homes when we are in Italy.

I had some pics of several rooms in a Tuscan farm house, though I can't seem to find them right now.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

To me, I'm not seeing a big departure in these designs from the cliches that killed the AmeriTuscan kitchen. Yes, the twee fol-de-rol is gone, and thankfully there are no roosters. However, these looks still attempt to recreate an idealized kitchen from a rural Italian farmhouse inside an American home. There is a little bit of cheatin' going on with the assumptions that the house is a Med revival or straw bale house. In fact, the native habitat of the Amerituscan kitchen was the suburban tract home.

I suppose actual Tuscan farmhouses are a legitimate starting point for design inspiration. But there are other approaches. Maybe we could try distinctively Italian materials that also fit into other kinds of houses as well--like brick. Or tap into other Tuscan design motifs, like horizontal stripes. Or perhaps somebody could scotch the whole idea of looking at Tuscany and focus on understanding why someone installs an Amerituscan kitchen. I think the emotional triggers are images that evoke warmth, family and food, especially Mediterranean food, and not specifically roosters or murals.

BTW I suppose I should confess I had a sort of Tuscan kitchen in 1994. We were living in a 1920 building full of stained gumwood with quarry tile on the kitchen floor. So rather than evoke a straight-out kitchen in Italy, I went for the look of a working class Italian immigrant, sort of Early Godfather, minus any plastic statues of David. I can make no excuses for the faux painting, although it was at least very professionally done.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Marcolo, are you really chastising people for NOT putting their faux Tuscan kitchens in a suburban tract home? Isn't a major theme of the design threads that the kitchen should be appropriate to the home?

Granted, we are working backward (at least I did) choosing some of the kitchen elements and then deciding what type of home they would work in.

If you take away the cliches, then what the heck IS AmeriTuscan? What's left? Does it have ANY design elements that are not cliches? I think we are all struggling with that.

I'm currently working on something that riffs on the Why of AmeriTuscan and am putting it in a home where classic AmeriTuscan would never ever work (did I just use the words "classic" and "AmeriTuscan" in the same sentence?)


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asdf

No, I'm not chastising at all. Certainly Amerituscan fits a lot more easily into even a Californian pseudo Med revival tract ranch than in a phony colonie in Jersey.

You put your finger on the central question for me:

If you take away the cliches, then what the heck IS AmeriTuscan? What's left? Does it have ANY design elements that are not cliches? I think we are all struggling with that.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I agree to the extent that things like the faux beams and such get a little stagey unless this is something installed throughout the whole house or whole first floor.

I think "Tuscan is one of those looks that can become "thematic" and one has to be careful that you aren't stepping into OZ from Kansas. While a kitchen is "architecture", I think it is possible to separate a kitchen a little bit in this regard by not going whole hog with beams and rough plaster and such, particularly when this is not present in the rest of the house.


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and...

I think this is why this is such an interesting process because "Tuscan" tends to be (from what I see in Google images) a cliche-ridden design, since it doesn't seem to be based on something that exists in Tuscany to any great extent.

There are cliched ways to do any period or specific design but for those we are more familiar with, or are American in origin, we are either a bit more forgiving of, or perhaps less likely to notice the cliche. But think about putting a spinning wheel in a colonial revival kitchen--we wouldn't do this unless it was real, the rest of the house had antiques, or maybe it was tongue in cheek. But this is the analogy that I would make about what can happen to Tuscan


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I think the cliches are no more or less apparent than say an english country interputation or the oh so now "scullery" kitchen trend or trying to reproduce a 20s kitchen is. The later are hip now so are not under scrutiny and considered "beautiful". Where as the tuscan trend is now "dated" and no longer as desirable. I pre chose my kitchen's home as a loft because I felt it could house the elements of the cliche without needing arches or beams added. I think the only "design around this" threads that were void of cliches were the first and the last one, where a specific material was picked. I feel the seventies and the 20s along with this one were all filled with expected elements because their genres come with preconceived notions yet they were all fun and fresh at the same time. I think this one still has a chance to grow.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

roarah I think you more clearly said what I was trying to say.

Here is my attempt. It's a typical house, so I am not adding any architectural elements such as beams, mouldings, or rough plaster to the envelope of the room.

I turned this project a bit on its ear based on the real pictures of kitchens I seemed to find where there was a modern kitchen inserted in an older structure. I used some rustic elements, namely the tile, but as a backsplash I am hoping this is considered a "surface".

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Ann Sack Tiles (4); Slate countertop; "Madrid" door; BM Waterbury Cream paint; Rocky Mountain Hardware; Kohler Faucet; Smeg Appliances.

Now for the furniture and decorative elements, I riffed on what an Italian in Italy might do, since they seem to like modern.
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A Saarinen Table for the Calacatta; Italian Leather chairs; a Stilnovo Fixture.

And if budget were no option for artwork, this Jamie Wyeth which is for sale @ 1st dibs:
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Or if budget is a concern, this photograph:
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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Thanks, Live Oak Wire. I hate websites that don't have prices! >:(


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

And pal, leave it to you to help this thread to grow above the cliches. Your colors offer the warmth marcolo refers to and your other elements create a modernly fresh spin.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Roosters! But I like.

Seems like green, terra cotta and cream or golden yellow are the quintessential Tuscan colors, but you used them in a fresh way. Is it too hip for someone who wants a Tuscan kitchen in the first place?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I thought about this, but the "hip" factor comes from the MCM furnishings. If you wanted to skew traditional tuscan with the furniture, it could be a quick change to this:
These are all reproduction pieces. The chairs are actually Provencal, but they are close enough.

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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I apologize for not looking at anyone else's but I dont look at the thread while I am working on mine. Also I converted a 5 pg doc into a pdf and then a gif. We'll see how that works.

First, a moodboard.
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Second, all the details and explanations and inspirations.
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RE: re Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

oh my! Is that doing to your screen what it does to mine? So sorry. I will find a new way to post it!


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Great colours pal. I like that rooster too - but aren't roosters the norm in Portuguese kitchens, not Italian?

Okay, I much prefer Pal's kitchen, but here goes.

My Tuscan/Italian kitchen is inspired by trips to Tuscany, wall art - photographs taken on trips.

tuscany

We wanted the warm, "lived in" feel of a Tuscan kitchen, but no kitsch if possible. Words we associate with Tuscan kitchens, warm, colourful, wood, marble, busy, active, no uppers, open storage, serious cooking, kitchen tools on display, Chianti, best friends.

Here goes: either gray/green or gray/blue cabinets like below, fairly traditional in feel, just a touch of rustic. Simple black hardware like the blue picture below. White farmhouse sink and faucet like in green kitchen below.
green cabs with sink
Gray Kitchen Open Shelving

At least one open lower cabinet like this:
rustic-kitchen-storage

Upper shelves, not quite this chaotic, but almost:
openshelfkitchen

Carrara counters with carrara lip backsplash. The wall above the short carrara backsplash will be painted a shade lighter than the cabinet colour.
normal_bianco_carrara_honed_marble

Big old butchers block:
Butcher's block

Recycled oak wine barrels for wine glass storage:
Vintage-Oak-Barrel-Staves_36B21C5A

Black Bertazzoni
Range black
syntia-focus

Wood table with stone tiles:
table

Chairs like here:
table 2

My favourite, squash risotto:
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pickles, wine and knives


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

(Angie here: my backstory smacks of classicism. I assure you this was not intentional or even warranted. I needed the conceit I used to make my choices look restrained! If anything, except for the charming part, I am the protagonist of this story, not the KD.)

Our well-meaning couple are basically parvenus, but are charming nonetheless. She always wanted a "real" Tuscan kitchen like the ones she saw in some decorating magazines a number of years ago. One of her sisters also was able to climb a few rungs on the economic ladder, and recently redid her kitchen in her new house in a different style. The sister, who was not able to go all out with her kitchen, has been (over)advising our protagonist.

Our arriviste couple knows elements of what they want, but they do not trust their own judgement. They hired our kitchen designer, and gave her the sheaf of inspiration pictures she started collecting 4 months ago. They had a frank talk, and our protagonist gave the instructions: "Please use my inspiration photos, but feel free to make any adjustments if what I have come up with is too subtle or too tawdry. I want it to be tasteful, like one of those kitchens I see on the Finished Kitchens Blog. And it should cook well."

The KD proceeded mostly by copying as many of her clients' design choices as possible, but toning each down. She reckoned this was the best way to satisfy the clients and also arrive at a suitable kitchen.

































































What she wanted What she is getting
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Corbels Photobucket Photobucket
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display/open shelving Photobucket Photobucket
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Countertop
(Hey, I have to give her some credit!)
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backsplash Photobucket Photobucket
Lighting fixture Photobucket Photobucket
Colors Photobucket
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Decor Photobucket
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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Recovering from mtnrdredux-induced epilepsy.

I like sochi's use of painted cabs. That look is a solid seller in Italy among those who want a more traditional yet simple approach.

Angie, the way you set up yours is brilliant. Proves it isn't necessary to completely reinvent the look--just raise the taste level.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Roarah, your loft is way cool, I really like it. The knobs and light seem too delicate for the rest, but perhaps you wanted the tension? Perhaps an over the top wrought iron light?

Funny how many similarities there are in posts. Unlike previous challenges, I came across many of the same elements and pictures in my search.

Mtnrdredux, yes the pictures are flashing! Your kitchen does a good job I think at trying to simulate a pretty authentic look. I like the onyx and tile and of course all that wine!


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

So sorry for anyone who had suffered any sort of breakdown due to the LDS-like imagery. We should save that for a 60's Haight Ashbury kitchen.

DO OVER. BAckground, then moodboard.

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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

"You should do a Tuscan kitchen," said Tina, sipping her coffee.

"A Tuscan kitchen. In my Eichler. Are you @#%&# serious?!" replied Belinda.

"Well...yeah. You love to cook Italian, you love wine. You entertain all the time. You're like the classic Italian mother: 'Mangia! Mangia!' You show love through delicious food."

Well that much was true. Belina showed love by cooking fabulous food. Her braised short ribs with polenta was to die for. But Tuscan, in an Eichler? Naaah...

But the idea nagged at Belinda. What made a Tuscan kitchen Tuscan? She started an idea board...

She chose this acrylic artwork for a backsplash behind the cooktop both as an ironic acknowledgement of the "Tuscan" cliche. It would be backlit with LEDs

Appliances
Viking refrigerator and double oven in Golden Mist (Custom color) and induction cooktop

The cabinets will slavishly imitate Sochi's but the counters will be giallo siena marble, and the floors and walls will be tiled with Kerlite Montenapoleone megatile

And because this kitchen is all about cooking, a Merkled Potrack

Artwork

Trestle Table

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Correction

There I go again, omitting parts of sentences. That would be

"both as an ironic acknowledgement of the "Tuscan" cliche and an homage to wine."

I also meant to muse on the exuberance of AmeriTuscan style, which I think has been missing from some of our more tasteful designs. Can you be tasteful AND exuberant?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Angie here: my backstory smacks of classicism.

Oh, jeez. I meant "classism," of course. I am unsure whether to blame that misstep on my spellchecker or my 102 F fever-addled brain.


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moodboard

Here are the moodboards I was too wiped to produce last night. I think I should keep my day job, but if I were to buy a house with the latter kitchen already installed, I don't think I would rush to tear it out. (Of course, I really *do* have a Mediterranean Revival house.)

What she wanted:
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What she is getting:

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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

cawaps: I think setting the house in Napa was brilliant. I could totally see that happening.

LWO: the single word that came to mind looking at your moodboard was "comfortable." Perhaps a little overwrought for my particular tastes, but I like it.
Couldn't you just see this sconce in an old Tudor home's cellar? You'd be looking for the Inquisitor over your shoulder every time you went down the stairs!
I am thinking "Cask of Amontillado." (Shiver -- that tale still unnerves me.)

Pal, what can I say. You've done it again. Another inspired reinterpretation.

Mtn, I really like your moodboard. A copper sink was a great idea (although I have no idea if that is "authentic Tuscan" or not). Why didn't I think of a copper sink? :^(


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Thanks, Angie.

I am dying because I just typed a huge message with comments and questions on everyone's and GW ate it somehow.

I guess I am not always clear about the concept. I took it to be, literally, "tasteful Tuscan". So, something that evokes that look but it not over-the-top Epcot. A lighter hand, as it were. Not a riff on Tuscany or a mashup with Tuscany.

These are a big departure from the AmeriTuscan - I dont think they look anything like those dark, heavy, detail laden monsters. I don't know if someone who was longing for Tuscany would be happy with just horizontal stripes? Here you go, here's your Tuscany!

As for fitting in a "suburban tract" home, not much does that people want to design. And I would say that on GW, even among modest projects, we don't see a ton of tract homes. I am trusting Pal that he has asked us to design a Tuscan kitchen for an appropriate setting. ; ) Maybe suburban tract home should be the next design theme. Most of our designs presuppose high ceilings and a lot of space, for example....


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I am dying because I just typed a huge message with comments and questions on everyone's and GW ate it somehow.

I hate that with a burning passion. I would rather spend 20 minutes trying to recover my text from the browser cache (or something) than spend 5 minutes recreating my lost "oeuvre."


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Angie, I like the herringbone floor and the olives. Can't abide by corbels, even your toned down one! And the counter is a tough one for colorphobes!

Sochi, I have been waiting for someone to rehabilitate tile/wood tables! I love the open LOWER shelves. Quintessentially Tuscan.

Pal. I usually love everything you do. I don't get this one. I am not even sure what the first block of materials are, and I don't get the colors. I'm also tiring a bit of the trend toward throwing in some MCM in every room no matter what the design. It seems like forced hipness. That said, it is also very very Italian. IN matters of design, Americans are so much more nostalgic that Europeans. I suppose that may be because our past has been relatively peaceful and bright.

Jdesign, you clearly had a good setting for this genre. Like the b/s tiles, the hunky butcher block, and stools. Very pleasant and unselfconscious.

Cawaps, Great ceiling treatment, nice hardware. We used American Clay in our entry hall and MBR. I like it but it is very hard in that product for them to create whites. Funny, Fiestaware does seem Tuscan, doesn't it?

Live_wire, That pot rack is great! And the breadboards in the inspiration photo. I should have thought of those!

Roarh - limestone is perfect. The cork idea is neat. I love the light fixture; is it antique?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

The first row of materials is four shades of Ann Sacks tile in various crackle levels. I would probably choose a primary one and try to set up a loose pattern of crackled or darkened areas.

I sorta felt the same thing about MCM furniture, so I came up with the more traditional lighting, table and chairs.
But...

This furniture now has semi-antique status at 50-60 plus, since creation, and the simplicity of it allows the eye to rest. I came around to this way of thinking from a more purely traditional mindset after living in a series of 1830s buildings. The stripped down MCM kitchens, globe fixtures and such installed in the 1960s actually play better with the original architecture than some of the "traditional" changes people have made since, and the same seems to go for furniture. A lot of "traditional" along the lines of Ethan Allen or Pottery Barn just doesn't look as good in these buildings as either a mix of antiques or MCM or better IKEA. So, I don't know that its a forced hipness...this furniture is too old to be hip, I think. And I guess the other part of this equation is that this furniture never existed in a vacuum and people used it whatever house they lived in, to an extent, and yet very few people lived in modernist houses.

But I understand your point and I had thought of this as I pulled alternate furniture. And I think a lot of people feel this way because I have never done a project like this for anyone else but me, (well one couple who already had the weird mix). Most people want something more consistent.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

LOL, I guess we are so unhip in my area that we still think MCM is hip.
Around here, people pretty much do the decor they want (mostly traditional), and then at the end, it seems, they throw in some lucite or some stacked stone or a starburst mirror as a nod to trend. It used to be drum shades served that purpose, but now they have become the norm.

Interesting point about the simplicity up against 1830s buildings (again very European to do that, very Louvre). Essentially you are saying either pony up for the real things, ie antiques, or use the architecture as a backdrop for simple, modern things. I can see that.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I was going to say that I wanted to take a little more time with this when I realized, no I don't.

Anyway, this is loosely based on the Enoteca Nazionale in Siena, a sort of national wine library. It's an amazing, amazing place, sort of a Moria of wine.


I've also got some references to the linearity of the stonework in Tuscany. All of this stuff is real merchandise for sale, BTW, you could click and purchase most of it right now online. The brick backsplash is thin brick veneer, I forget the pattern name but will look if anyone cares. All the tschotschkes are from Italy. Including the roosters.

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I can't get the hood to show up properly, it's sort of a combo of ORB and copper. The floor is a combo of faux marble tile and faux wood tile--it echoes the wine racks as well as those linear stonework designs. And heck, it also recalls ceiling beams in a way.

I was trying to do something suitably of the moment, so it could be installed by someone buying an East Coast new build production house right now. It's very transitional and even nods to the prevailing RH colorphobic vintage decay look, but warmed up just a little bit.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Love the floor.

Its funny, I was going to say that if we are really trying to design, say a salable Tuscan kitchen, it should probably be a Tuscan Scullery. Which is sort of what you have. Great birds. I agree it should have something living, herbs or topiary or better yet Rosemary topiary


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Tuscan is hard to get your arms around.

What is it, exactly, since it's not related to real Tuscan kitchens? Why is it even called Tuscan?

Seems to me that "Tuscan" was the "nouvelle cuisine" of the 1990s. Back in the 1980s, traditional French food was dismissed as heavy and murky, so restaurants could sell you "light and modern" nouvelle cuisine with 2-oz noisettes and one miniscule carrot for $32 a plate. In the same way, in the 1990s traditional Italian-American food was all (incorrectly) dismissed as a lava flow of red sauce and mozzarella, but we self-styled sophisticates discovered "Tuscan" cooking, which was lighter and more rustic and simpler and blah blah blah. A lot of the visual style of Tuscan kitchens was based on wine label designs, as plllog has remarked.

All of which is pretty ironic, because Tuscany is not particularly noted either for its cuisine or its wines. But it sounded good.

Anyway, I was trying to dissect all this and figure out why somebody wants a Tuscan kitchen. It comes back to a lifestyle aspiration, one centered on wine, family and Mediterranean-style food, I think. However, even with that ground-up starting point it is still difficult to do a realistic kitchen that avoids the cliches.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

What is the difference between a design element that is a "signature" of a certain look, and a design element that is a cliche?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I've been watching this thread a little closer than the others. I have to admit, I must have been in the basement doing laundry when the Tuscan thing took hold because I was never really aware of it until I started lurking on GW. (Disclaimer - my kids gave me a rooster canister set that I have been using faithfully for over a decade now)

Isn't this Tuscan thing just an Italian version of Country? It seems we have Early American Country, French Country, Fly-Over Country, English Country, etc. Don't they all rely on some sort of faux rusticness with plenty of aged woods, some version of stone or brick and a dash of whatever craft/farm activity that was native to the region at one time? Of course, this is just an untrained observation and I follow these threads to learn not to teach but I'm basically seeing the same country themes here with just a few tweaks.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Cliches are things I don't like.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I like Marcolo's definition, but.

Signature vs. Cliche:

Dark, worn or distressed wood vs. Shiny, stained, glazed, crackled wood.

Exposing the beams or brick in an older house vs. exposed beams or faux cracked plaster over brick in only one room in a new house.

Mantle hood in Tuscan design vs. carved corbeled bracketed mantle.

Marble, wood or tile countertop vs. elaborately edged granite countertop

Tile backsplash vs. tile with accent tile with medallion.

Iron hardware vs. birdcage everything.

There isn't anything the matter with the cliches, necessarily, it's just that their effect may be cumulative.


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Not entirely, Skydog. Certain mass market kitchen design is indeed a Sno-Cone, and you just add whatever flavor you want--Rosemary Tuscan, Lavender French, Pimenton Spanish.

But Tuscan also coincided with the rise of the Ornament Monster--oversize corbels, range hoods that fill you with a mysterious urge to sing Mass in Latin, rope moulding that makes it impossible to open your cabinets without developing arthritis, crowns so massive you hit your head on them. That's not especially country, by any means.

Plus, country and rustic are perfectly legitimate decorating styles that do not necessarily have to rely on cliche.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I was kidding about what a cliche is.

Cliche is something so overused and overdone it is no longer surprising or interesting but outright tedious. This is what makes some of the details of the Tuscan kitchen particularly awful. First, there's all this Ornament, but frankly, it's not particularly well done like fine 18th century hand carving, and while it may have impressed us at first, it rarely stands up well to multiple viewings in multiple kitchens. Second, there's all the whimsy--the chickens, the grape vines, the tile murals of buxom contadine toiling in the fields. Whimsy is a type of humor and no one likes hearing the exact same joke fifty times. So, cliche.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

mtnrdredux & pal: I enjoy seeing those old backdrops to modern furnishings, although it can be done to an unrealistic extreme. I agree with Pal that the simple, modern pieces are often more appropriate than the 'traditional' furniture of today (not antiques). I've posted before that one of my favourite home porn magazines is the French ArtsetDecoration. I'm not sure how readily available it is in the US, but they do a wonderful job at showcasing period structures with modern pieces, often a mix of modern and antique, usually in a very livable way. If you can't find the magazine, check out their web-site (esp. reportages), you can click through many of their 'articles.' You don't really need to read French well to enjoy the website or the magazine.

But how does the mixing on antiques/old structures with decidedly modern furnishings jive with the mantra frequently espoused here that the kitchen should reflect the era or style of the house? How do you know when you can pull it off?

Check out these two homes from the ArtsetDecoration website (first home is near Lille, the other in Belgium:
Pavillon1_carrousel_gallery_xl
Cuisiniere_carrousel_gallery_xl
Cuisine_carrousel_gallery_xl
Salon_carrousel_gallery_xl
Chambre_carrousel_gallery_xl

Fermemoderne11_carrousel_gallery_xl
Fermemoderne5_carrousel_gallery_xl
Fermemoderne6_carrousel_gallery_xl
Fermemoderne2_carrousel_gallery_xl
Fermemoderne8_carrousel_gallery_xl
Fermemoderne9_carrousel_gallery_xl

Here is a link that might be useful: ArtsetDecoration


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Angie, I like the Not that, but this format.

Marcolo, I think that is a good example of clean Tuscan for someone who wants something that really reminds someone of Tuscan.

Sochi, those are great pictures. I think the difference in Europe is that some of the buildings are so old, it would be impossible to furnish or put in a kitchen "appropriate" to the building because no such thing exists. There were no kitchens in some of the buildings of my complex until the 1960s. They went from houses pre-kitchen, to boarding houses with no kitchen to apartments.

In America generally we have to relate putting in a kitchen that somehow works with an early 20th century house or a post war 20th century house when they came complete with indoor kitchens and baths. It doesn't have to be slavish to the period, but it gets a bit weird when someone wants to put in a kitchen the is a revival style that clearly predates the house it is in.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

My clients want the feel of Tuscany but with a slight spin. The walls are all white or off white to show case their art. There are only two upper cabinet shelving's in an iron and iron look with open leaded glass doors and backs. The base cabinets are Italian walnut. The range backsplash is a custom mosaic with mixed materials and marble. The goal was a semi formal relaxed eclectic look Tuscan kitchen.







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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Pal said: Angie, I like the Not that, but this format.

I may be dense, but I had great trouble parsing that. I think I finally got it. I think you meant it the way that statement would read if it had quotation marks around "Not that, but this," as in: I liked the "Not that, but (rather) this" format. At least I hope so!

If anyone is interested in logistics, I used html table tags.

Here is a link that might be useful: html table tags


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I meant how you steered your "client" toward a better choice, but still acknowledged their wants, with a better result.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Sochi and Pal,

I have a quick answer to "how do you know when you can pull it off", but people will not like it.

You can pull it off whenever it is is both authentic and the best of its kind (read expensive and or rare). Mixing things is a lot easier when everything you mix is perfect in its own right.

Failing that, you need talent! But it is a rare talent indeed.


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RE: re Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

A clich� or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/, US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

We only see cliches in the rear view mirror.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

It's always been an axiom of eclectic design that each piece must be of higher quality to stand on its own. I mostly agree with it. However, I've seen people do wonderful eclectic rooms for not much money. Plus, the industrial trend has made it easier, since you can now search for the ideal vintage worktable instead of the perfect ormolu mantel clock.

Regardless of all that, there's still something in between magazine-worthy eclecticism and a kitchen that looks like the salami counter at Wegmans.

Just wish I knew what to do with all those huge Deruta plates gathering dust in my basement.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

OK, here's a stab at interpreting "Tuscan" for a generic American home rather than a tile roof stucco McMansion. :)

George and Cassie are a couple in their 50's whose kids have flown the coop. George was downsized 3 years ago from his tech job and still hasn't found full time work. Cassie's salary as a dental tech hasn't been able to pay the mortgage on their 4000 square foot dream home that they built, but at least they found a buyer to stop the drain. Bringing money to the table to close has left their savings almost dry, but they still manage to put enough money down on a 1600 square foot nondescript 1970 ranch that Cassie's salary can pay for by itself. It needs work, but since George has shifted roles as the one to stay at home, and did a few painting and tile jobs to get the old house ready for sale, he thinks he can transform this not quite ugly duckling into at least a better manicured if not beautiful swan.

Because of water damage from a sink leak that also damaged the floor, they have to make some decisions in a hurry that they thought they could work on over time, so they take the 3 pieces that they cherished the most from the old house and use those as their inspiration for the new kitchen and dining area. George made a desk/dining table in his high school wood shop and has taken that desk everywhere with him over the years. He made it from a single slab of wood and hand rubbed the finish. Cassie has a print of Monet's Houses of Parliament, Sunset that she bought in junior high after she saw it in a local exhibit. She too has taken that with her eveywhere they moved over the years. And they have a Murano glass chandelier that they bought together during their honeymoon in Tuscany--with the colors partly inspired by the print. It's slightly kitchy, but they both love what it symbolizes for them as a couple. Neither wants to run with the kitsch, but they do like the idea of "modern Tuscan".

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After gutting all of the water damaged kitchen cabinets, and the entire floor, Cassie decides she wants to never worry about water damage again. They pick up a plum colored slate tile and over a couple of weeks, George manages to tile the entire public spaces with it.
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They decide that the oak buffet cabinets in the eating area will be kept to save money. For the rest, inspired by the open shelving of Italy, they visit a local used restaurant equipment supply house where they buy a stainless dish table with sink and overshelf, another stainless work table with overshelf and pot rack, and a butcher block table with pot rack.
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After they get all of the plumbing hooked back up, as well as the black appliances which they are keeping for now, they start shopping Craiglsist and a couple of antique stores for some chairs and a china cabinet for the DR as well as two central fixtures for the kitchen itself.
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All that's left is the finishing touches. A new Rainforest Green marble tile counter for the buffet, as well as routing out the doors for some art glass. Painting the whole space a custom olive green, and finding the perfect fabric for some skirts to hide the plumbing's "knees".
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"Modern Ranch Tuscan" all pulled together!

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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Hey, Murano glass is from Venice. But I guess they could sell it in Tuscany. : )

My real issue is this:George and Cassie are a couple in their 50's whose kids have flown the coop. George was downsized 3 years ago from his tech job and still hasn't found full time work.

What? What? I am so sad now. OMG poor George.

Aren't we supposed to have fun here?

Has mass SAD broken out?

Why are you doing this to us!?

Why not just say "the doublewide suffered some damage from Hurricane Irene. But as soon as the settlement comes though from that accident at the poultry plant, they will be able to put in plumbing. They are trying to decide between ORB and nickel, but... "

I thought we were doing decorating fantasy here ... play!? Please


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I will have to look up Deruta plates and ormolu mantle clock, but your 23:01 post Marcolo sums up my response to mtnrdredux 22:39 post.

You're right mtnrdredux, I don't like your answer (but concede that it may be correct, at least in part). You must (surely?) be able to do eclectic well without having to hire a high priced interior designer with extraordinary talent, with only expensive pieces. As marcolo says, perhaps not always magazine worthy, but enjoyable rooms of beauty nevertheless.

A building's age, style, etc. should certainly influence your overall design, but I would really hope that all of us in the New World need not be limited in time and style by 20th century housing stock. I guess the response to this challenge is the Tuscan kitchen, the Zen kitchen, the French Country kitchen, etc. But we know from our Tuscan design challenge that this response can go horribly wrong (enter cliche). Or not? There are some nice looking kitchens in this thread.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Funny, Mtn. I was all set to post a note to LWO about how much I liked his descriptions of his clients. It serves a purpose: it tells how they come to have high expectations and a beer budget.

You have me belly laughing with this, though:
What? What? I am so sad now. OMG poor George.
I can't stop! Every time I read, I laugh.

I say we let George post his resume and see if any GWers have an opening. Or at least give him some leftover Cushy Cupboards. Anything, really.

I do love your double-wide scenario, too.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

DH just gave me that "what could be so funny on a kitchen site" look as I laughed out loud at mtn's response to poor George.

No way dear George made that table 40 years ago and carted it with him from home to home. I don't think Parliament belongs in a Tuscan inspired kitchen, but the kitchen overall does evoke the right feel . Not much modern in it though?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

At least George is less depressing than the "Do you feel invisible?" thread in the Decorating forum. I think they're about to commit mass suicide over there.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

So what do we think is next?

White kitchen?

A material?

Tract house?

Something like Angie's "a better choice?"


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

How about, How to revamp a golden oak kitchen WITHOUT changing the golden oak? This would be hard but the rules could be no painting no staining. All else is acceptable such as adding some glass or other to the cabinets but the color cannot be changed.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I had the ironic (and perhaps unkind) thought that the DYFI thread should be pulled for being off topic.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Summarizing some things that have been suggested in previous threads and here:

White kitchen
Pink kitchen
Knotty pine
Keeping the golden oak
Metal cabinetry
A tract house
Wacky linoleum (I had suggested the Marmoleum croco or the
graphic series)
Interesting tile (I posted a few in the 1920's thread; one of them turned up in BalTra's thread)
Vetrazzo
Back-painted glass
GreenDesigns table from the 1920s thread.

I'd be okay with any of these, but I think I like the white or pink kitchen best.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marmoleum Graphic series


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I think the DYFI folks need to read the "poured milk on salad" thread. A sure cure for SAD.

How about Angie's "a better choice" for someone who wants a golden oak kitchen? jterrilynn, your suggestion just sounds too difficult. Which is I suppose why it might be a good challenge.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

An intervention, Sochi? Really? For golden oak?

A decade of homeowners thought they were awesome; they really can't be as bad as crack or meth.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Why are we torturing ourselves with things we don't like. We should be enjoying ourselves with projects we will never do IRL.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I like your thinking mtn. a few of my dreamy projects:

- rustic modern cottage (or cabin I think you call them in the US)- not a high end coastal retreat, or some over the top log cabin, but a real cottage that many middle class families retreat to for summer holidays and spring/fall weekends

- have we done a steampunk kitchen for real yet?

- modern Victorian kitchen


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Hey, don't knock my "George and Cassie" scenario! I didn't think it was a downer at all. It's about making raspberry lemonade out of lemons and doing the best that you can when life hands you those lemons. There are a LOT more people in "reduced economic circumstances" than there are in the "money is no object" design world.

Which is why I want to propose another choice for one of these exercises. Anyone can pull together a fabulous look when throwing money at it. :) It's much harder to do when you have a limited budget. You want that hand made wrought iron sconce? Gulp! It's 2K, which is more than you've budgeted for your range.

So, I definitely vote for the "Golden Oak Transformation" as a challenge, but don't make it a condition to leave them "as is". People want options for dealing with them, and painting IS an option.

I also propose doing a "Low Budget Challenge" where you have to design using a 10K budget and yet get new cabinets and counters and floors with that---and show your prices. A lot more people have that kind of budget than have a 50K kitchen type of budget, and those are the people who need help in expanding their creativity to be able to still make their home look pulled together without a large cash infusion.

I'll admit I'm biased for this, because I will do 3 15K kitchens before I'll do a 45K one. Sadly, way too many of them are uninspired and basically drab kitchens because that's what the homeowner wants. It's scary spending large amounts of money, so they want something "safe" to guarantee that it won't be "wasted". But, there is the occasional one that delights me, where budget or not, it's a GREAT kitchen. Economics is a pretty restrictive box, right? And it's hard to work your way out the confines of that box and be original. Let's see how the KF does!


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

We should be enjoying ourselves with projects we will never do IRL.

I don't think this is what these threads are about, though we can use them that way. I think all of them so far have provided examples of perfectly realistic kitchens that someone could do in their own homes as an alternative to the OTK.

Though I agree, we shouldn't torture ourselves.

How about "a better choice" OTK? Use houses that are not Edwardian or Victorian and show how a OTK can fit into them better?

I like some of the other suggestions as well.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I guess it depends what you consider enjoyment :)

I enjoy the challenge of working with a set of parameters, because if I do work for other people, that's what I am given. When I was in design school, we had projects like "1810 historic preservation", "Mid-century rambler", "Industrial Loft", and there were students who completed all of these projects so that they looked nearly identical to each other and wondered why they didn't get selected for "Best of..." when they worked very hard and did a good project. But they didn't really follow the program except for the space planning criteria.

So I think if we worked with materials we loved, I would turn out a kitchen with Soapstone counters and painted cabinets most of the time.

I think by being given a set of parameters we *are* doing projects many of us would never do in real life, but we are trying to create a kitchen we Do like out of some elements that we don't. I have liked every kitchen I have done in these threads based upon what the parameters have been...maybe not enough to build it.

I guess we could do a "fantasy kitchen" project but I almost think that would be too easy, no budget, no limits, etc.

Does this make sense?:)


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Some folks have also mentioned French country.

Should we vote or something? This 1991 forum software doesn't let you insert a poll.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Exactly Pal! Every design that happens in the Real World will happen under some kind of set parameters. "Design Without Limits" can free up some intense creativity--like using heat molded Corian for a organic flowing counters and cabinets or the using backlit stainless framed onyx slabs for a buffet--but not many people have the balls or deep pockets for something like that in their Foursquare.

Parameters are puzzles waiting to be unlocked with the right key. It's confining, but you work harder to overcome those confines than you would if they didn't exist.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Fair points. But I actually don't think a lot of the kitchens done to date were realistic, at least by live-wire-oak's standards.

You guys are interested in exercising your design chops. I just like shopping and looking at pretty things...


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mtnredux raises the interesting point of whether we should start with something pretty to begin with, or start with a real-world parameter that may not be so pretty, like existing '80s oak cabinets or an unassuming tract home. Fair enough. I could go either way, and we can probably alternate.

That said, mtnrdredux, I think you underestimate the feasibility of most of these kitchens. With some exceptions, they are eminently realistic. The ones I've done can be pointed-and-clicked pretty much right off the Web, and not for any more money than most Gwebbers spend anyway. I think you may be reacting simply to the fact that they are different, and somehow associate "different" with inherently unachievable.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

*cough* *cough*

I'd love to see what ya'll would do with a "modern Victorian kitchen."


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Marcolo,

In your case I thought that floor seemed pretty pricey for labor and materials, not to mention it would not work at all in a small kitchen. I think it assumes a pretty big expanse. But on rereading i see you are using faux stuff.

I really like that floor!


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Not that I've had the time to do a story board lately, but my vote is that the next one be something less hard, and more "pretty". Non over the top Tuscan is hard! And, it's kinda austere as well.

Since Marcolo and Palimpsest started this whole thing, I also vote for them to make the Executive Decision about the schedule of The List of Challenges. Alternating sounds good to me. One hard and challenging, one easier and prettier.

And that's why I like the Modern Victorian. It should be nicely decorative and frilly if we're matching Victorian exteriors. If we're doing a servant's scullery, that might be another story!


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

According to the news today I live in the 3rd worst housing market and rate #11 as the worst run state...so I really get doing a budget kitchen. However, in real life I wouldn't have time for an online exercise with that much detail and research involved in staying under ten grand and having to prove it. Still though I do think the whole idea is to try and help others with kitchen inspirations and even better if we do somehow address people on a budget. Very often it is the golden oak owners or the natural maple owners that ask for help on updating until they can some day get a new kitchen. We could keep low budget in mind though.
P.S. I have to be honest and admit that I'm also using these exercises to improve myself and learn. When I feel I know more I will comment more on others designs. If I know little and am in the learning phase of certain centuries or style types I cannot comment on whether You did a good job. For all I know it may look good but be way off of the requested look it's meant to have. I am learning a lot though and I'm getting much more confident.


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RE:re Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I'm actually indifferent as to what is done next, since I should probably stop spending so much time at it.

Also, I don't know how to photoshop and that would be helpful.

I will add that the budget think will be a ton more work, since i dont know how to price things like cabs, or labor.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Maybe we should just take the whole list, order it in some reasonable fashion to mix up styles/eras/materials, and use that as our roadmap for the next 15 weeks. This wouldn't be set in stone, and could be revised as new ideas come in. And, of course, my proposed order is negotiable.

1) White kitchen (white kitchens appropriate for homes that are not Edwardian)
2) Keeping the golden oak
3) Tract house (specify decade? or any tract house?)
4) Interesting tile (pick specific tile or line of tile)
5) Pink Kitchen
6) Knotty pine
7) Queen Anne
8) Metal cabinetry
9) Vetrazzo
10) French Country
11) Interesting tile (pick specific tile or line of tile)
12) Starting from clothing fashions as your inspiration pic, design a kitchen that suits the era/mood/style
13) 1930s kitchen
14) Wacky linoleum (Marmoleum croco or the graphic series)
15) Rustic Modern Cottage
16) Back-painted glass
17) 1970s home

It occurs to me that we could also describe who is going to live in the house: Age, family status, profession, general tastes (I'm thinking of the bachelor pad from the earlier thread, and of poor George). But leave the choice of what type of house to the designer.

I left off the modern Victorian kitchen, because it sounds like a mash-up, and I'm not sure how y'all feel about mash-ups. There's a mission-style Queen Anne I drive by regularly and ponder what kind of interior would suit. I'd be okay doing a mash-up, if there is some reason that the whole house is a mash-up and you're not just putting a modern kitchen in a Victorian that hasn't otherwise been updated.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Wow, so many wonderful kitchens! I wish I could play, but I have people ripping my porch off, as we speak. Need to get back out and see how things are going...but I'd love to design a kitchen (colors, style, etc.) that would go with the house (Bramasole) from Under the Tuscan Sun. I wouldn't want the kitchen in the movie, but I really like the dining room :)

From Kitchen plans

From Kitchen plans


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I would also favor alternating. In literature, there is a rich tradition of following self-imposed rules to force you to be creative enough to produce worthwhile art while still hewing to those rules. (c.f., the sestina, just to name one of many, many examples.) And, like jterrilynn, I am essentially only trying to learn a little about what looks like nice design. (Uuhh, it's a work in progress....) And, as LWO and others have pointed out, in the real world you ALWAYS have constraints. They didn't make Pal do those design exercises to make the projects easier to grade.

On the other hand, sometimes you need to remove constraints. Not all great literature is written in iambic pentameter.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

My son is finally closing on his townhome today so I'm going to be real busy as laborer. He will not be able to afford a new kitchen for a while but he will fall under the "bachelor pad" and "70's kitchen" category above. Actually the TH was built in 1980 but was the last phase of the 70's TH community, so it's pretty much a 70's kitchen. It's the type with the picture of wood look on particle board cabinets. Hope I'm not so busy I miss that episode here.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

My stuff in the Tuscan Kitchen was from Ann Sacks Basics and the floor is about $4 a foot; cabinets from Plain & Fancy, but you could probably get this look a little cheaper--their pictures are just easy to copy. I really don't think I have done anything unachievable except the Jamie Wyeth piece. I think any kitchen I have done in these threads would price out comparably to a lot of the finished kitchens we see posted in here.

I wouldn't be able to stick to a certain budget also because of the labor.

As for not having time, I have some piece of "Student Outcomes" educational psychobabble to complete for my department by Friday and working on these projects has certainly assured that I will Not be done with it. Along with various other paper work and IRL things.

However I would not have worked on it anyway because philosophically I think this type of teach-think dumbs down education and I am not at all interested in doing it anyway.

I am up for any of the above projects, but I do think it would be too complex to price it out other than generalizing that laminate will be less than quartz and hardware that can be easily shopped on line, and the differential between appliances, etc.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

What about rough materials pricing only and assuming that it's all DIY labor? With a small budget, that is a likely scenario. Ikea cabinets are online. There are a slew of other online cabinet sellers who will have "10x10" cabinet pricing (which we can then double for an actual kitchen). You can roughly price tile, flooring and other materials from a gazillion online sources. It's especially easy to do if you use Google images to search for a certain product and then find it and search for that under Shopping. Yes, it's a little more work, but it's a good mental stretching exercise, especially for those on champagne tastes and budgets. :)


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

cawaps - for my modern Victorian suggestion, I didn't really mean a mash up. I'm specifically thinking of a real Victorian New World house (my neighbourhood is full of them, mostly built from 1865 to 1905 or so). If you just moved into one of these lovely old homes with a run down kitchen, how would you renovate respecting the era/essence of the structure, but ultimately designing a modern (rather than modernist) kitchen? But a modernist interpretation of a Victorian kitchen would be okay and interesting too I think.

This is a IRL situation for me and all my neighbours - although my house was built in 1877 as a worker's home, all evidence of the Victorian era was long gone when we bought it in 2009, so we didn't go Victorian. While most with these sorts of homes in my city could probably afford to spend $20-30K on a reno, these are not "rich" people who can just throw money at making it beautiful. $50K would be too expensive, compromises are required.

Agree that trying to keep to a rough budget is okay, but it would take too much effort to do this properly I think.

Thoughts?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Adding more:

18) $10K budget
19) Animal prints! (we can put the Marmoleum Croco here)
20) Ikea kitchen (all Ikea?)
21) Mid-life crisis bachelor pad


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

"Mid-life crisis bachelor pad."

LOL! Where did that come from? Would the counterpoint to that be mid life cougar pad? :)


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

The mid-life crisis bachelor pad came partly from my suggestion of coming up with a character and designing for them; and also from jterrilyn's son (not the mid-life crisis part). And yes, we could do an either/or bachelor or cougar pad, if you feel that would be more equitable.

And Sochi, thanks for the clarification. Modern, as in modernizing, with modern amenities. I have seen modernist renovations of Victorian homes presented in home and design magazines (Dwell? Fine Homebuilding?), and wasn't sure if that was what you meant. Mostly those don't show any of their Victorian heritage. I did put a Queen Anne on the list, which we could change up to a folk Victorian if we want.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I don't think Modern Victorian should fall off the list. I think the Rules should stipulate something mid-range in budget, though. We've all seen lots of extremely expensive period reproductions online and in magazines, so what's the point of copying and pasting that?

Within that category, I would hope to see kitchens that are

1) fairly period, but neither $100K reproductions nor the loving handiwork of a decade of salvage. Otherwise you just get to "assume" the homeowner found a wall's worth of encaustic tile in perfect condition for a backsplash, or that they magically hired a local cabinet maker to build in-place cabinets that were the exact replica of the butler's pantry. That's not a realistic design project limitation.

2) not period but specifically designed to fit into the house somehow

But I'm happy to do another one first on the list. I just want palimpsest to vote before I do.


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The other source of the bachelor pad idea

The other source for the bachelor pad idea (which I think got the idea rolling around in my subconscious) was Kode's design for the Formica thread:


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I also think it would be great if we could somehow get the lurkers to give some feedback and ask questions. I hope other people are reading the thread beside the contributors.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I think they are--have you noticed a few posters doing their own mood boards recently? I thought that was great.

I still want you to vote first. I don't have the energy to go back up the thread and weigh support.

BTW, and this will relate to you shortly, I am now afraid to open any thread on GW except this one. They all seem to reply to any question about grout or backsplashes with some tale of dread disease, damaging familial relationships, unmet emotional needs, SAD or social isolation. So, seeing your name come up right after coming to this conclusion, I have had the idea to start posting under a new username more appropriate to the board: "Solipsist."


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

lav las......where is the cute Polish boy to help us decide?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Since white kitchen and pink kitchen were suggested before modern Victorian, I would probably want to do one of those first. I do want to try the Victorian project at some point but we may need to flesh out the parameters on this one a bit more.

If someone wants to set some parameters for the white kitchen that is not the SGTG kitchen or some parameters for the pink kitchen that would be great. I would like to suggest that the pink kitchen Not be a 1960 fantasy-redux.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I'm reading! I'm reading!
Lurking and learning.
I love these threads.
I'd selfishly add a colorful kitchen to the list. Since you're doing an all white one . . .

Enjoying the back stories you create for the kitchens.
Fascinated by the debates about what is trendy/cliche/spendy/creative. And the photos defining what a particular style actually is.

Tho I don't understand exactly why the kitchen has to match the style of the house. So many houses in the US are b.o.r.i.n.g. and without character. Or if the house is a sweet country french style (does this exist?), but the owner can't stand country-chic, why have to stay within this style?

Looking forward to the next one y'all come up with. And if I find the time I might try to do a story, too.


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may I add:

"Eclectic" to the list? In the spirit of Poor George and Cassie, & good old American resourcefulness (sans credit cards, I mean).


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

OK. Let's make the next challenge the non-OTK white kitchen. What parameters?

- No soapstone
- No marble
- No laminate that looks like either of the above
- No subways
- It must fit the age and style of the house. No Edwardian sculleries in a '20s Tudor or '50s ranch or 2011 new build.
- Color must be used somewhere

Do those sound right to you guys?


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Pick a style of house too.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I'm mostly a lurker around here, and I am loving these threads. Many thanks to those of you who are posting. I have no design background and not a ton of imagination when it comes to this stuff, but these threads have been really educational and fun for me to read.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

I second dee850.

Thank you, thank you to those of you who are doing all the heavy lifting on these threads. I have zero understanding of design but have attempted (not for publication here) some idea boards as a result of these threads. And my husband is saying they will make the final results in our someday-will-be completed kitchen better.

OG


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Silly question, if color has to be used somewhere, how is it a White Kitchen

Do you mean a scullery kitchen or a peacock kitchen?


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RE: color

Wall color, textile, etc. Not a white on white on white painted, subway, marble, white walls kitchen is what I think Marcolo means.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

White kitchen with colourful features (not just accents) - walls or appliances or backsplash, perhaps some coloured cabinets is my take. Purple ceiling, who knows. I've got something brewing, launch away...


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Yes, exactly. The term "white kitchen" has been around a long, long time, and when I was a kid, a "white kitchen" could include aqua Formica or floral wallpaper or red linoleum floors or whatever.

Oh-kay. I'll get to work on the post.

Oh, I was thinking of not specifying the house style, just specifying what it was not. When did the sanitary movement really get going? I want a house that is not late Vic, Craftsman era or early '20s--nothing near Edwardian.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Poor George? What about poor Fortunato?


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Love the walnut

Cawaps - forgot to mention how much I like the cabs in your kitchen! Lol
I think pairing the walnut with that sienna marble would be stunning, I love the combination. If only I had seen it two years ago! The megatile is cool too. Makes me wonder how long I will be content with no backsplash. I'm dreaming of colour now.


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RE: Design Around This #5: Neo-Tuscan/TuscAmerican

Somehow I'm reminded of tonight's episode of "Happy Endings" where one of the characters can speak Italian only when she's hammered.

The new thread is up, btw.

For the moment, perhaps I'll wander over to Decorating and see if they've put the purple cloths over their heads yet.


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