In farmhouses of a century ago, the kitchen was a large sunny room and the center of hearth and home life. The old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen typically boasted a hodge-podge of free-standing furniture rather than the boxy wall-to-wall running countertop style of today. A central butcher block workstation, usually with drawers, structured the meal preparation. The farmhouse table, typically constructed of long planks of oak or other high-quality wood, was the focal point of any farmhouse kitchen. Open-shelving lined walls or was hung above cabinetry for storage, as well as a pot rack display of hanging copper pots and pans.
A large freestanding range with two ovens prepared the family meals. Kitchens often featured chair-rail height wainscoting of unpainted, but stained, boards with the adjoining walls painted or wallpapered. On a successful farmhouse homestead, floors were hardwood. These unfitted kitchens displayed a combination of materials and textures that emphasized comfort and a relaxing atmosphere. These unassuming kitchens are the inspiration for the freestanding furniture and the glass cupboard look now sweeping kitchen design centers today.
The key to this popular kitchen design is blending style with function. An unftted farmhouse kitchen integrates natural materials and simple no-frills decorative accents as well as spacious eating and preparation areas capable of accommodating large gatherings of friends and family. Kitchen cabinetry and furniture is often made from beautiful high quality hardwoods such as maple or pine, and then accented with richly printed textiles in bright hues reminiscent of idyllic provincial living.