Living in the Kitchen: Totally Cottage

Not only is this space loaded with pretty details, but it is also designed to be practical and efficient. See how you can have it all.
Julie Feagin Sandner

Homeowners Marnie and Jamie Gray turned a dated split-level ranch house into an updated English-style cottage, and their fabulous kitchen is the star. Jamie's the head chef in the house, and Marnie loves to entertain; the new space--created from a tired family room--benefits both passions. When it comes to preparing meals for family and friends, this is a perfectly planned room.

Achieve the Desired Results
The Grays wanted a traditional look, so they contacted The Cottage Shop in Homewood, Alabama, which specializes in fine bespoke (that's British slang for custom) cabinetry and handmade English furniture. Owner Doug Durkee says the cottage look is a collected one. The English fill their kitchens with pieces of furniture and sparingly use upper cabinets.

It's Pretty and Functional
The island is perfect for serving when the family entertains. Topped with an African wood called iroko, it's also designed to be the ultimate storage unit. This countertop material is repeated on the counters flanking the sink. Iroko is highly resistant to moisture and is easy to maintain. Scratches can be buffed out with fine steel wool and finished with an oil stain.

The Ultimate Goal: Smart Storage
Each cabinet in the island is designed for full use from front to back--that means no wasted space. Pullout shelving and drawer units make this possible, plus the island limits the need for upper cabinets. So it's what you don't see that makes this kitchen super-functional.

"Living in the Kitchen: Totally Cottage" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.