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Country Kitchen Islands: How to Choose Between a French or American Look

by Susanne Clemenz

Both American and French country kitchen islands are mostly wood. Metal isn't usually a major construction material. In fact, if you love the look of a country home in the U.S., you could opt for a French provincial kitchen island as a counterpoint to the more fanciful details of your kitchen cabinets. The reverse is less true.

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French and American Country Kitchen Islands: Similarities and Differences

  1. Wood: Both American and French country kitchen islands are often of medium to light wood tones, although either may also be darker. A warm white paint, or dark greens and blues, are other French finishes.
  2. Tops: Butcher block topped kitchen islands are the most common choice in both architectural decors.
  3. Shelves: French country islands usually feature two open, closely slatted shelves and a wood or metal dowel for kitchen towels. American country kitchen islands vary tremendously in storage design. Often they have cupboards and drawers with or without open shelves. They may have a towel rack at one or both ends, a drop-leaf bar extension, round door pulls, and solid wood or glass-fronted doors.
  4. Ornamentation: The French country kitchen island is simple and functional in appearance, with no ornamentation. Style comes from balancing the proportions of height, length, depth and the thickness of its wood elements, although antique French Provincial islands can be quite curvy and quaint. American country kitchen islands have ornamentation including turned legs, curved skirts, curved supports under the butcher block top, and round door pulls.

Of course there are kitchen islands for Craftsman, Danish, contemporary, and other architectural styles. The information presented here is your guide for two country looks. Viva la difference!


About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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