Kitchen Addition: New Stools

The latest addition to the kitchen: twist stool from World Market.'

This is going to be a rambling post:  I want to touch on a couple of things.  First, I want to show off my new stools, a great buy from World Market and show the evolution of my kitchen--while doing that I also want to talk about the balance between true to your design loves and embracing trends and "something different."  I also want to go through the process of why I chose the stools I did--it may be tedious, but over and over from clients, I hear the same refrain, "I don't even know where to start!"  Hopefully, even though this is a very minor design decision, it will help readers understand the design process---which is really the same for both big and small choices.  Pour yourself some coffee (or a Bloody Mary if it's that kind of morning...I won't judge, I promise...well, at least not for long), and I'll begin.     
Original kitchen setup circa Oct. 2007.

  Here is the way this part of the kitchen originally looked.  It's in the pathway from stair room to back door, but since my kitchen is so small (12'x14'), I couldn't afford to leave any space unused.  It's not quite enough room for a table, even a bistro set, but there was just enough room for these two exiting chairs and a small table.  When I decorated the house, I was in the throes of my love affair with Domino and mid-century.  While I've always liked to combine pattern and intense color, this vingette with the contrast patterns never really felt like me.  Plus, while I liked funky accent pieces from the '50s, '60s, and '70s before they became de rigueur, I only really liked touches of them.  These '60s prints with the glass lamp in the avocado kitchen  felt too studied, and not naturally eclectic.  

Soon, however, fate (and a cat) intervened, and the aqua lamp was no more.  Next, the table moved on to a client's house when I realized it was perfect there; besides, as much as I resisted going the baker's rack route, I disparately  needed more storage.  I was worried about blocking the light, but in fact, plenty still comes in, and as the view is merely across an 8' driveway directly into a neighbor's window, the items do provide some privacy.  However, the chairs remained, even though they no longer worked as well with the bulkier rack between them.

I did love the original curtains made from vintage sheets---however after painting the adjoining room (now the office) aqua from it's original terracotta, I needed to move them over to replace the earth tone curtains in there;  At the same time, my cousin Barbara gave me her '60s curtains from her bathroom redo (here).  They were only 60"--luckily, she had saved the fabric from a planned (but never completed) matching shower curtain.  I stitched the extra length to the pinch pleated draperies, added buttons to the seam (from my grandmother's button collection), and instantly had draperies that look great and remind me of two of my favorite people--not bad work for curtains.

But I needed more than ever to replace the chairs with something else (don't worry eco-warriors, I have need of them elsewhere in the house)--they were too bulky for the room and they clashed even more with the new fabric---plus they tipped the look into the kitchen into a more retro look than I wanted---my inherent love of a cottage/farmhouse/English country look was fighting to break free. 

I've learned an important lesson--if you love something, and have always loved it, --a look, a color, a fabric--stick with it.  It's tempting to "try something different," to stop doing the same old, same old. But, honestly, when you go against your true nature, you're never truly happy in the long run.  I'm not saying don't change, grow, and develop---I'm just saying make sure you really have changed and are not just falling in lust with a new trend.

New backsplash.
That's one of the reasons I decided to go with the faux reclaimed wood for the backsplash---to cottage it up a bit.

My row of orchids.  After living most of my life with a black thumb, I'm excited i've managed to keep them alive this long, even if only a couple have re-bloomed.  I've discovered the kitchen has exactly the right amount of light to keep them happy.  Also, notice I've followed Joni's advice and moved the matchstick blinds up to right underneath the curtain rod to extend the look of the window.

Path to back door.

Okay, I've shown before and after and pontificated.  Now on to design process.  First, as always, focus on function and practical (you can always comprise between practical and pretty, but it's important to know how you want an item to function first).  The function--even in a kitchen as tiny as mine, people gather, and I needed a place for them to sit.  I also needed the new seating to be as small as possible, as well as mobile.  I also wanted stools with flat tops so they could serve as an extra surface for drinks, grocery bags, etc. considering my lack of counter space.  Finally, as far as appearance, I wanted something to pull out a more vintage cottage look rather than the retro '70s look I was originally going for.  Price was also an important consideration--I couldn't afford much over $100.

While certainly not close replicas, kitchens like these show my all-time favorite look--a vintage/cottage feel, a mix of pattern and natural materials, and the deployment of useful cooking items (utensils, bread boards, and pots) as the decorative items, rather than a lot of useless, dust-catching tchotchkes.   They both, not coincidentally, show vintage industrial stools.

So on to  the point of this seemingly endless ramble---if you figure out what you really need---when you go looking for an item--you're looking for something specific.  So, I wasn't just looking at all bar stools at a location----I was looking at small, backless ( I don't have enough room), vintage/industrial inspired, counter height (I don't have anything bar height in the kitchen---it's all at counter height), stools with flat seats for $100 or less.  This immediately means instead of going to an on-line or brick and mortar store and having dozens of options, I usually only had one or two per place. 

Kitchens from House Beautiful

I was leaning toward the tollix knockoff from Overstock, but really wanted a metal/wood mix:

Then Thomas found these at World Market, the twist stool.  They look just like the ones I saw all over the Dallas design district this past week, but for a lot less. They're only $109, which is a great price based on their quaility.  The top is solid wood, and if it's not raw, the coating is very light---no shiny poly coating.  They are nice and heavy, with a gunmetal frame---they even have very discreet plastic sleeves on the feet to prevent scratching the floor, as well as being adjustable from 24" to 30".  If you are interested, go now---they are going fast.

Maybe  the kitchen is done....at least for a while.


Karena said...

I adore these stools and saw them at World Market last weekend. They are perfect for your setting! I am considering a white office chair they have.


Art by Karena

Vickie H. said...

Wonderful! And may I say that I am really enjoying your recent flurry of posts...since I like your blog so much I am always sad when you go on "hiatus". Hope you can keep 'em coming for a while!!

Valorie Hart - The Visual Vamp said...

You are a busy bee!
Loved it before, and love all the changes. Genius to put the shelf unit in front of the window, flanked by the curtain panels.
xo xo