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Observation: Checkerboard Kitchen

by | Aug 18, 2008 | Decorating Inspiration, Kitchens

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Observation: Checkerboard Kitchen

Greetings! Thank you all so much for checking in on me over the weekend. My daughters wedding was absolutely lovely. There were so many special things about it I cannot wait to share once I can get back into Portland and load some photos and gather my thoughts. An unbelievable amount of detail and coordination went in to this event (which was actually designed to be “a simple beach wedding” but yet still took a lot of thought!) so my brain has been on overload. Meanwhile, I kind of left you all hanging there without any posts so I am going to put in another observation post so we can have a little fun while I am getting myself back into gear.

For those of you new to this game we’ve been playing, here are some ideas to jump start the conversation, but feel free to share on anything about the room:

  • How would you describe this style?
  • What is the mood of the room?
  • Describe the personality of people who might live in a room like this?
  • What are the main things you notice when you first look at this photo?
  • What are some subtle features that you notice when you look more closely?
  • Notice things like the shapes, the textures, the colors, the proportions, patterns, etc.
  • What is something you can learn from this style or how the room is put together?
  • What role does the architecture play in this room?
  • If someone wanted to create a room like this, what are some of the significant things they should incorporate?

Enjoy observing, and don’t forget to share with us what you noticed. Many of you have commented how much you are learning by both sharing AND reading what others share. I agree this is a great way to learn about design!

“Observation” is a new series of posts where we will all share our observations on the day’s photo. There is no expected, right or wrong comment. Just share what you see, what you notice, what is unique, what you love, what strikes you, or what is something you might have learned about design from this photo.

You don’t have to love the room to observe things about it. We’ll study all kinds of rooms (don’t worry, we’ll do other posts too, not only these!)

This exercise is both to stretch our own creativity and to help ourselves and others see from a new perspective.

Need more help with what to look for? Read the explanation post here. Have fun observing!

Photo: Southern Living


  1. Lisa

    I love this style of kitchen – I would describe it as modern country with a twist. I think the people who own this kitchen love art as is evident by the artworks hanging in the background and the artistic style of the floor. The floor is the first thing I notice in the room, then the beautiful island bench with the wonderful pendant lights and stools to sit around and chat with a glass of wine while the owner cooks dinner. I love the constrasting cabinets in duck egg blue and the porcelain sink (I need one in my next house). These people love to cook and entertain and I wish I could see the rest of the house. The lighting and lamps add to the warmth and style of the room as well.

  2. Penny

    Good Morning! Glad to hear the wedding was wonderful (though I KNEW it would be ).

    I LOVE the floor in this room. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I like the way the candle lanterns on the counter mimic the lattern wall sconce. The dark wood island anchors the room and helps transistion to the painted cabinets. I think the people who live in this house entertain alot. There are two dishwashers and two ovens. The one thing I keep finding jarring in the room are the two dark portraits at the end of the kitchen. When my eye is wondering around the room, I keep stopping there. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing :-).

  3. Jill Flory

    I have to say I LOVE this room! I wouldn’t do this in my own home I don’t think but I do really like it. Love the colored cupboards and that floor is to die for! It looks like a kitchen that is USED not just for show. Islands are a must for kitchens. Also, the can lighting around the edge of the ceiling is a must for my new kitchen someday! I may take some inspiration from this photo when the time comes to remodel my hopelessly challenged kitchen!
    The artwork is not my style at all but somehow I think it works with the flooring and coloring in this room. Artwork should reflect the people who live there and their taste.

  4. cybill

    I love this floor and it works perfectly with the island bench but the blue (teal?) cupboards around the walls seem to fight with the floor for attention. A bit busy perhaps? I’d also take away all the lanterns. I love the quirky touch of the portraits.

  5. Jan

    Good Morning…I’ll bet you’re glad the wedding is done and over with! Take your time unwinding…and just relax.

    The ISLAND and the FLOOR are my ABSOLUTE favorites. I love them! The island, with it’s funiture-like style anchors the kitchen beautifully. I also like the combination of the colors in the wood floor and island, with the turquoise blue of the cabinets!

    I notice 2 wall ovens and 2 dishwashers, 1 on each side of that lovely country sink…so I would think the people that live here do alot of entertaining. The windows above the sink and the entire counter, hopefully reveal a lovely view.

    There are a couple of things I’m finding a little hard to “get”, such as the 2 PORTRAITS hung one above the other, the white-painted walls that seems to look like the “outside” of the house and all of the lanterns. While I like the white paainted “siding” and the lanterns, I would not have put them in here.

    Thanks for this neat OBSERVATION picture!


  6. porter

    Those floors! Wowzers!! Love isn’t a strong enough word to describe how fabulous they are!

  7. Connie

    Congrats on the wedding. Everybody just loves a wedding and can’t wait to see the pictures.

    Observation notes: I see a very streamlined old world kitchen with a touch of whimsy. The stained island, the old world lanterns, the paintings and the farm sink speak of a era from when time was simple. The lap board siding is a must for this kitchen. It calms your eyes as they move up the room. The painted cabinets and the harlequin diamond floor of course are the touch of whimsy and they complement each other very well.

    Beautifully done eclectic kitchen with things from times gone by and the modern day essentials that we all crave.

    [email protected]

  8. Kathleen Grace

    I like the clean lines of this room. Even though it has a traditional feel it also feels clean and modern. It isn’t cluttered with a lot of small decorative items.

  9. Mary Beth

    The two best things about this room are the size and the light. Kitchens should be the largest room in the house because, at least in my family, everyone congregates in the kitchen. We have the farm house sinks in our kitchen and I love them – they are so huge, you can wash anything in them. And the island — so much counterspace — I’m in heaven:)

  10. Pat

    I noticed the siding first and decided this must be an add on. I like the lanterns. You know who I thought of? Mary Carol Garrity! Lots of light in this kitchen. I like the dark island and the aqua cabinets and farmhouse sink.

    The floor is beautiful. I’d love to find someone to stain or paint a windrose on our foyer floor. Not only is it sort of nautical, it has a special significance for us.

    I believe the people here like to entertain in the kitchen. Everyone gets into the act.

  11. Pat

    PS: Happy Wedding…I am looking forward to photos and info!

  12. Starwoodgal

    I love this take on a updated English Farmhouse style. The floor is awesome. Take away that floor and this room would not have the punch it displays. Love the dark island and modern chairs too.

  13. Jill

    I’m so glad the wedding went well!

    I love this room – the floor of course!, the panelling, the architectural details, the aqua color on the cabinetry, the overall brightness and light… I’d probably be a better cook in there!

  14. Beverly

    I like it. It seems like a room that must be open to a living space in the home. It’s not too “kitcheny”.

    The clean lines on the paneled wall play against the diamond pattern of the floors. The island designed to look like a piece of furniture works well with the painted cabinets. The paneled wall, the window surround and the sink add the needed light to the room.

    And, I think the portraits add a touch of humor. I know there must be a story about including the portraits – they are truly the conversation piece.

  15. Becky

    I have so enjoyed these observations and even though I have only posted once, I have learned from reading others’ comments. I find myself reading my magazines differently, forcing my self to really observe the finer details. I love the blue cabinets and the dark wood island. The traditional portraits in the background are an interesting twist in a kitchen. There is quite a mixture of lighting–from the lanterns, to the more modern pendant lights. I feel like baking chocolate chip cookies now Ü.

  16. mrs darling

    Im going through your blog for ideas for table toppers so when you see so many pages on your site meter dont worry. Its not a stalker its just me.

  17. Suzette

    I’m definitely in the minority on this one. My browser opened on the top half of the photo…”Nice,” i’m thinking. But, when I scrolled down so that the floor entered the picture…UGH! I hate it. Maybe if the blocks would have been smaller – but I doubt it. I also am intensely disliking the current trend of the island being of a drastically different substance than the rest of the cabinetry in the room. It looks like the builder/decorator got a truckload deal on a particular style of island, and – by George – he’s going to use them until they’re gone. The lights hanging over the island also don’t work for me. They seem to be from another century. This is the first one I haven’t liked even a little.

  18. Vee~A haven for Vee

    Wow! This room is a 50-50 room for me…half I really like; half not so much. I don’t care for the floor (sorry, Penny!) and I don’t care for the dark wood island, and I don’t like the old primitive paintings on the wall. I really like the painted wide boards placed horizontally, the blue of the cabnets, the windows and the layout. So how does half-liking a room make me feel? Okay. I can see the good things and I can analyze why I don’t care for the rest…wish I had time!

    So happy to hear that your daughter’s wedding went beautifully!

  19. Chris

    Congratulations on the wedding, Melissa! I’m sure you’re ready for some rest now! As for the picture, the one thing I really noticed was how much of an impact artwork has on a room. I don’t feel like it screams old traditional to me until you see the portraits in the back. Not to my liking at all. However, the light in this room is phenomenal, and I really love the floors. It’s one of those things that I love, but I think I would get sick of in my own house. Thanks for sharing!

  20. CHERI

    The floor is what captured my eye first and I love it! Never would I have thought to do a pattern such as this but also the mix of wood color. The kitchen as a whole looked so relaxed and a place to have coffee and chat. Great kitchen.

  21. Mrs. Q

    A nod to mod with a wink to the past :)

    Love the turquoise cabinetry which isn’t overwhelming because it is just a smattering of color.

    The floor is lovely and very unique. Originally when I saw the title of the post before I saw the picture, I was thinking typical black and white checkerboard floor tiles. This is a nice unexpected twist on the theme!

    I really love the island. It looks so regal amidst the checkboard floor and turquoise cabinetry.

    And in this room, the white really works and doesn’t seem overwhelming. Love the collection of lanterns and the one that is hanging on the wall. Very farmhouse chic! I also love the apron sink too.

    The windows are droolworthy, and I can only imagine the view you can see from them!

    Also, love the stainless steel among the more sedate looking pieces. Adds a punch of modern while holding to the inviting look of farmhouse past.

    Overall, I really like this room. Not really sure I could be bold enough to pull off the checkerboard flooring (plus hubby would have to like it too…lol). The colors are so soothing and inviting. Makes me want to sit down, look out the windows and take a bite from one of those juicy pears!

  22. abbreviated

    Like the blue in those cabinets.

  23. Toots

    Your blog is such a visual delight. I don’t get to really read carefully very often; life is too hectic right now with two home-schooled high-school-age girls. But, I enjoy quickly skimming; and one of these days, I will have time to really sit, read, and look to my heart’s content. Thanks for all you share!

  24. Kathy at ShockingPinkThread

    I’m skipping the observation and going directly to commenting about the wedding. Wasn’t it wonderful?? I have no doubt it was simply beautiful. As a recent M.O.B. I can safely say I have never worked so hard or answered so many questions; all for my dear daughter. I’m looking foward to hearing about your daughter’s special day. I know ours was one of the happiest days of our lives. Best wishes to your bride and her new husband! ~Kathy

  25. please sir

    Great floor – such a unique way to spice up a wooden floor. I wonder how it would look in other colors…even white?

  26. aswewalk

    So glad you had a wonderful wedding. I’d love to see some photos when you get a chance to breathe!

    As for the kitchen–wow! It’s a mix of what I love (the white and aqua, simple airy feel) with what I’d love to do (the dark woods and elegant feel). They certainly pulled it off here.

    What’s with those antique portraits? They are just a surprise! And wouldn’t it be great if they were of the owner’s family?

  27. Rhoda

    Oh, I love that kitchen! Definitely has a lot of WOW factor.

    Glad to hear the wedding went well & can’t wait to see some pics!


  28. Sandy

    Can’t wait to see the wedding photos!
    Love that kitchen floor!
    Have a fabulous week.

  29. Deanna

    What an interesting room! I like that it is almost colonial in style- the color in the room, the portraits, the lanterns, yet it is modern – the island, and the floors –

    It feels like it belongs at a beach and yet not exactly.

    I like the formal and informal mix.

  30. Lynda

    I’m so glad the wedding went well and can’t wait to read more about it!

    As soon as I clicked on your blog, my first reaction was that I *LOVE* that floor!!! It certainly makes the whole room pop!


  31. cherrie

    Woah! and wowee! That is overwhelming and at the same time I think it all goes nicely together. I do like the touch of blue (or whatever it is). I guess you have to lik painted floors for a start – which I do. The rest of the room being kept light balances the dark floor and cupboard and the two portraits help to tie it in. I think this has a lovely country feel and is home to happy people wh love food and people. Cherriec

  32. Melissa

    Hi friends! I’m having so much trouble getting to the computer while I am still at the beach, but I am pleased to see you all here checking out this kitchen! :-) Things have been winding down since the wedding and I am mustering up my energy to haul everything back home again tomorrow! Thanks again for your well wishes.

    MUAH! xoxo

  33. Elizabeth

    I would describe this room as modern country. I love the floor, I’ve seen others and it’s a great treatment, especially on something aged and a little wonky. To recreate this room it would be important to incorporate a variety of colors in cabinetry, and little to no upper cabinets. The big wall of windows is important, but might be a deal-breaker for some homes that only have 1 small window.
    For people who really don’t like or are overwhelmed by the floor, the checkerboard could be a border around the island for something more subtle.

  34. angie


    I am new to your website, I found you through Jennifer Ramos, madebygirl blog. I love the design and found your blog full of inspiration.

    How would you describe this style?
    Traditional Modern Farmhouse

    What is the mood of the room?
    The room has an open airy and warm feeling.

    Describe the personality of people who might live in a room like this?
    Traditional with a modern twist

    What are the main things you notice when you first look at this photo?
    The floor stands out the most, it is very bold.

    What are some subtle features that you notice when you look more closely?
    Farmhouse sink, stainless appliances, the furniture like cabinets.

    Notice things like the shapes, the textures, the colors, the proportions, patterns, etc.
    What is something you can learn from this style or how the room is put together?
    You can mix time periods, classic, traditional, farmhouse with modern and achieve a great looking room.

    If someone wanted to create a room like this, what are some of the significant things they should incorporate?
    The floor, the open feeling, the warm colors of the wood, farmhouse sink.

  35. karen

    country traditionalists live here; somewhat formal, living in today’s world. I loved the harlequin floor pattern and the blue cabinets. The first thing I noticed was the pictures on the far wall … dutch masters types…thats why I decided they were traditionalists.

  36. Dee

    I like the aqua blue, the darker island, the pendant lighting and all the moulding. Love the lanterns and the sink!

    I do like the floor, but not in there :( In my mind, it does not “blend”.
    It looks like two different minds put this kitchen together.

    I can not buy into the portraits, no matter who they are :)
    I’d rather see an oversized clock.

    PS~It must have been a joy to see “two become one”. Congrats to all of you!

  37. laura

    Can’t wait to see wedding pics! I’m so happy to hear all went well.

    I love the unexpected portrait paintings. I have a repro oil that I’m itching to hang in my bathroom for the same reason — who expects to see an 18th century portrait in the the loo? ;-) I also love the look of the checkerboard painted floor but would never have the guts to do that myself. All of the lighting fixtures (the lanterns perched on the counters, too) are my style and I would use each and every one in my house!

  38. Françoise

    Not much time to comment. I certainly hope those paintings are not valuable, it would be hard to think of a worse environment in which to hang them! The changes of temperature and humidity as well as the particles of grease, salt and various acids that are inherent to a kitchen atmosphere would be destructive to both paint and canvas. Works of art deserve a better protected environment. So says the daughter and granddaughter of painters, and a dabbler herself.

  39. Catherine

    I can’t wait to hear about the wedding! I’m sure it was beautiful.

    I love the clean lines and the stark contrast between the dark wood, black checkerboard, white wall, and the blue/green cabinets. The horizontal tongue and groove siding gives it some country charm along with the painted portraits.
    Get some rest,

  40. Barbara

    I like the blue but not the floor, too dominating. Quite a male looking kitchen to me. I could live with it though.
    Will look forward to the wedding pocs.

  41. Laura Ingalls Gunn

    Congratulations mother of the bride.
    I love the pop of color the cabinetry provides.

  42. Marianne

    I like this kitchen, but would have chosen another floor or would not have painted the black checkers on it. It is too overpowering.

  43. joanie

    Love this series. This is an interesting room with what seems to me to be a mixture of styles. the floor, island, and portraits are compatible, but the bluish color and white walls seem to belong to a different room style. I would not be comfortable in this room. The floor is overwhelming, the first thing that jumps out in the photo. The room is full of angular shapes, with the exception of the curved legs on the island. If the floor was natural wood and the island was white, i’d adore the room. i like the light, the nice architectural features, and the lovely blue color. And I’d hang those portraits in a formal parlor (if I had one!).

    Thanks for presenting these pictures. I’m learning a lot from them and from the comments or your other readers.

  44. Jennemmy

    I would love to know where the pic came from before I give my two cents. I would like to see the rest of this house as well.

    I think this is a great example of eclectic design. It takes varying components and blends them beautiful. The floor ties in the island and the I think the portrait of the gentleman brings a bit of the dark color to the wall. I think cabinets look fresh against the white, white walls. I really like the sconces above the sink vs. your traditional potlight. I think they look beautiful mounted between the windows just so.

  45. ann marie

    I know I am not the norm here, but I think the floor ruined the kitchen. I am a country/french girl, and adore the cabinets, the pop of blue, and the space, but the floor is to modern and retro..
    I think you would have to repaint it often also to have it look so nice. Not sure that a worn look of this would be attractive..

    Keep these observations coming! I enjoy them! ~ Even if I am negative, I am honest.

  46. Darla

    So glad to hear the wedding went well (I had no doubt!).

    I love the floor in this room. I’m a sucker for pattern.

  47. Lisa

    This is such a great looking kitchen. I love the big bold squares on the floor. I think the owner of this floor would need a big, bold personality to pull it off-lol.

    Love your observation posts. It’s so great to read others’ take on the same photo.

  48. pauline

    Love this room, love this floor (but I naturally would since I went to great lengths to handpaint my “perfectly good” oak kitchen floors (as my DH would say)), but I waited til he was away on golf trip to do it. You can see my version of floor at:–MyHome/
    Most of my decorating is getting dated, however, most being about 12 years old. Probably need to work on it a bit. I love everything about that kitchen photo Melissa, even though I usually like lots more color! I would call style “sophisticated Americana” or British Home American style, but whatever you call it, it is a room that exudes taste and comfort and warmth.

  49. Pamela

    This is the house kitchen at Rocky Pines Lodge, a rather exclusive and highly respected artist’s retreat in a remote coastal corner of Dark Harbor, Maine. The retreat was founded in 1825 by siblings Adelaide and Ethan McCormick whose portraits hang on the back wall of the kitchen. They resided in the Lodge entry hall until the year 1964 when children under ten years of age were first admitted into the Lodge for a special series of watercolor classes and it was discovered that some of the more highly strung young artists found them to be a bit unsettling. The portraits were then rather unceremoniously relocated to the kitchen where they are now viewed primarily by the Rocky Pines cook of fifteen years, LilyAnne. The pears on the counter in this photo were picked from the Lodge orchard by LilyAnne herself who is set to include them into her famous Pear Galette for a start of session luncheon taking place tomorrow at one. Storms often knock out the electricity at Rocky Pines and the candle lanterns sitting by the kichen’s farmhouse sink are kept within easy reach at all times. These two were used just last night. The kitchen was re-done six years ago with new appliances and a new work island. However, the checkerboard floor was not included in the redecoration as it was a gift to the Lodge from the artists staying there in 1997. There was some disaggreement at the time over the size of the squares in the checkerboad, resulting in several disgruntled participants but most everyone approves of it now.

  50. Mari-Nanci

    The floor reminds me of a very old Martha Stewart tape I have… Of her at Turkey Hill… And telling how she did this type of pattern on the hall floor, I think. :-)

    Miss Mari-Nanci

  51. Meredith

    One of those kitchens that looks amazing in photos, but really, who keeps apples strewn loose on their kitchen island and over-size lanterns on precious bench space. However, the colour combinations are divine, as are the lights over the island. The floor is inspired and a brave choice. The kitchen stools are an excellent choice also, anything too fussy would have detracted from other design details.

  52. Kristin

    The first thing I notice in this picture is the floor. It is brilliant and sets the tone for the room. If I had to name this design style I would pick something like Traditional Farmhouse. I picture the family that lives in this home as pretty sophisticated, driving a volvo, maybe sitting in the library right off of the kitchen. Interesting how a picture can conjure up all of these random thoughts. I am in love with apron sinks, so this room is a dream. Can’t wait for the Fall themed blog events this next week!
    -pumpkin cottage

    Kristins last blog post..Ribbon Love


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