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A Beautiful Old World Modern Farmhouse Kitchen {With Natural Wood Cabinets}

by | Feb 9, 2011 | Decorating Inspiration, Farmhouse, Kitchens, Modern

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A Beautiful Old World Modern Farmhouse Kitchen {With Natural Wood Cabinets}

House Beautiful Farmhouse Kitchen

I have always loved beautiful natural wood furniture and cabinetry. Yes, that is probably not the most popular statement in a day when most people are “lightening up.” But I like wood when it is beautiful.

My love of dark wood started back when I was little and dreamed of living in a big old English Castle behind gates.

Yes, I know, usually I talk more about white kitchens and white cabinets. It is about time I give natural wood cabinets their fair share of love!

A Beautiful Old World Modern Farmhouse Kitchen {With Natural Wood Cabinets}

My wood cabinet from my last kitchen

In my previous kitchen (photo above), I mixed up our mostly white Shaker style cabinetry with this mahogany wood cabinet trimmed with bamboo and added the soapstone counter on this cabinet to contrast with the subway tile and then the Brazilian cherry wood counters in the rest of the room. You can find the story of that house here.

I love the contrasts and mix of materials, so white with dark always looks beautiful to me!

If I was going to design a kitchen around primarily wood cabinets, I’d balance out the potential darkness and heaviness with white subway tile, a white farmhouse sink, and beautiful soft blues, greens and metals. Just like in this kitchen! Put all those elements together and you have a warm family farmhouse style kitchen. In certain houses, this darker kitchen would work much better than white cabinets would.  It is all about what is appropriate for your home and lifestyle.

A Beautiful Old World Modern Farmhouse Kitchen {With Natural Wood Cabinets}

Wow, that wall of tile is AH-MAZING. The color combo of the tile is so beautiful behind that dark bar cabinet.

This kitchen has so many different elements and materials all in one room, which some people might not like (or be afraid to try), but it really gives it that “pulled together over time look” that still looks current in an old world way. :-)

The various materials give the room a lot of visual interest. Notice the different styles of lights, different metals, different tiles, stone counters and brick flooring. I love the mix of textures!

Sometimes I think we play it too safe with our decorating, it is kind of fun to be a little more daring and mix things up a bit. I like to see something unexpected, something complex and more interesting to look at.

A Beautiful Old World Modern Farmhouse Kitchen {With Natural Wood Cabinets}

See more of this kitchen at House Beautiful!

In other news and the whole reason I started to surf the internet and stumbled upon these images today (because I’m easily distracted), I have about 20 projects going on around my house right now —  I work on more than one room at once because I am insane, have decorating ADD and cannot just complete one room at a time. Maybe that is why I like rooms that “evolve over time” because it is the only way I know how to work. I’m weird.


  1. SimplyLKJ

    I’m with you, wood is beautiful done right!! It definitely warms up a room.

    • Deanna

      I’ve always loved light/blond maple cabinets. How would you style that kitchen? (colors of floor/tile/walls/etc)

      • Melissa

        I’ll have to look for an inspiration pic for you so we can see what looks good with that wood tone!

  2. Estela

    OH my! What an amazing kitchen!!!!!! I’ve always loved white cabinets in a kitchen, but there’s something about dark wood I just love :)

  3. Astrid

    I love that kitchen! I wonder what those countertops are made of (the one by the sink).

    I love your modus operandi when it comes to decorating. I’m the same way! I call it multi-tasking. LOL! Unfortunately it also means rarely getting any task completely finished!

    Right now I’m trying to put my stuff away (stuff cluttering counters) which is nearly impossible with two little girls coming in behind me to clutter it up again as soon as I’ve cleared it. I’m also going through tubs of old clothing- some of them treasures (to me) and having an impossible time deciding what to do with them. I mean, I’m probably never going to wear that dirndl but can I honestly give it away????

  4. laxsupermom

    I love that kitchen! I was thumbing throught House Beautiful’s pink edition the other day, and had to stop at that kitchen. Gorgeous! Of course I’ve always been drawn to wood kitchens, more so than white ones. I always love white kitchens in other people’s homes, but I know in mine they’d be a smeary, dirty mess. My children are not delicate and careful with anything. Thanks for sharing these pics.

    • Melissa

      They definitely are a lot easier to live with as far as not noticing the dirt!! I have wood cabinets now and I rarely think about cleaning them (which means they must be awful but I can fool myself into thinking they aren’t!) where with my white cabinets I was cleaning ALL the time. Which means my kitchen was cleaner ;-)

  5. Willo

    Thanks for this. I have wood cabinets and really quite enjoy them, but feel pressured sometimes for something “nicer:. This post reminded me to be happy with what I have.

  6. Imperfect

    Our house has cabinets that were painted white at some point (before we bought it). We’re just dying to tear them out and put in wood cabinets – for whatever reason we’ve both always been drawn to darker colors when it comes to furniture and cabinets. But I definitely like the recommendation of pairing dark cabinets with lighter counter tops, back splashes, walls, etc.

  7. FairfieldHouse


    I too have decorating ADD. My rooms are never finished. I love the kitchen you shared above. The dark wood adds contrast. I find many that ‘play it safe’ lack that element and seem to fade off into oblivion. This kitchen has managed to create interest without being too busy — a fine balance.

    Your Friend,

  8. Linda

    So glad to hear I am not the only one with way too many projects. Having fun wiht decorating…that is one of the things I miss about living in east Asia, cheap goods for fun decorating! Still adjusting here. Have a great day!

  9. LaurieatTurnerFarm

    LOVE ~ natural wood. Yes the dreamy whites are pretty, but I LOVE wood

  10. Kim

    Thanks you for the inspiration. I have solid cherry cabinets in a white cabinet world. I think I’ll keep them and love them. Thx!

  11. Cassity

    I love the images! Such great detail and I can’t believe the wall of hex tiles, amazing!

    But I had to comment after the last remark of being weird for working on more than one project, if that is weird count me in. I honestly don’t know how people have the patience to do only one project at a time! I would go crazy!

    I agree evolving over time is best! …this is coming from a self proclaimed “remodelaholic” though so who knows, maybe it is a sickness- but it spreads easily that much I know!

    Good luck on your projects!

  12. My Design

    Agreed, I want 2 kitchens. One in white and one with wood (I guess I already have the latter). In my current home it’s the first time I’ve had wood floors in the kitchen and will NEVER go back. they show NO dirt whatsoever.:)

  13. karen

    I definitely prefer a *white* kitchen to a *wood* kitchen. That being said, I like mixing up materials, like you. In our kitchen that we’re about to renovate, we have planned:
    ~ {mostly} white cabinetry
    ~ wood-topped island
    ~ concrete countertops
    ~ kitchen table to be topped with sheet metal
    ~ wood floors

    See? It’s quite a mix, isn’t it?

    • susan

      I couldnt help but giggle because people keep looking at me funny when I tell them what my kitchen will be like-so many of the same materials,just in different places! Except for the concrete countertop-if Katie Brown can make her own,so can i-and mixed with concrete stain! :D then I saw a pic of a guy’s DIY kitchen in a converted bldg, and realized he had done my vintage industrial-with some real farm pieces thrown in-before I could! My sheet metal will be the whole “waterwall”; reclaimed commercial pot sink(skirted),D/W,momma’s white cupboard on old wood casters (daddy’s formica to be recovered in copper or zinc) & the fridge. Being a galley kitchen that some doof tried to make an L, all else spaced around the window wall(stove,stacked repurposed current cupboards/’crete(sealed),paintd deep turquoise,grandma &thrifted porcelain topped pieces,oval turq pot racks over dbl window). Have old brick facade to fit window wall so will stain crete to match. Zinc or copper sheeting half shutters/dbl windows. Big Mix!

  14. the cottage child

    I love just about everything – I’m really impressed with the folks who have taken ownership over their builder grade oak grain cabs and have painted them any lovely color they care to. It makes for some of the best transformations for the least investment.

    For me, renting, I’m pretty much waist deep (literally) in built-in these days. My long favorite kitchen is by a Houston antique dealer who didn’t use a single piece of traditional built in cabinetry in her kitchen. It’s got the Euro/Texan feel that edges up to a French patisserie on it’s way to industrial. And of course, that means mixing paint and wood finishes and a variety of counter surfaces. I’ve planned our “real” kitchen the same way, and I’ve got a garage I can’t park my car in to prove it!

  15. Amy Kinser

    Good morning! I love this post because I have dark cabinets in my kitchen. I, of course, love all of the white cabinet kitchens that are so light and airy looking and have even talked to my husband about painting our cabinets. I don’t think he would ever do it, and that’s okay. Therefore, I will be content with my dark wood and continue just mixing in my whites and lights through my accessories. I just like seeing a beautiful kitchen like this one to remind me that white doesn’t have to be the only way to go to get that beautiful, cozy, farmhouse look.

    Thank you, as usual, for your informative and beautiful posts.

  16. Lynn

    I’m just like that…working on more than one room at a time! It seems like I always find something that I just have to have for a particular room, even if I should use my money more wisely and complete one project before thinking of starting something else.

    Your blog has inspired me to show more of my home. That means ALOT of work for me….lots of pictures to take etc. to share my love for decorating in blog land :)

  17. Anna

    I love the split-brick flooring done in the herring-bone pattern! My mom has had two kitchens with split brick, and I’m telling you: that stuff is wonderful!!! The multiple colors/tones/spots naturally in the brick hid everything. We’d go days between sweeping, and the floor never looked grungy (you’d just gag when you looked into the dust pan and saw all that had been on the floor! lol) Compared to tile, it’s so much easier to keep up, too. The grout is always done in a natural, earthy color (which, again, doesn’t show anything!) and a coat of polyurethane over the works makes for a great, rugged, family kitchen floor!

    • Melissa

      I had a similar type flooring before and I didn’t have to clean it very often! Yes, it was grungy when I finally did clean it, but I loved that I didn’t have to think about it every day!! It always looked great!

  18. Brenda Kula

    I’m glad to see some of the more natural wood look coming back. I too like the whites and lights, but believe it’s been a bit overdone.

  19. Missy June

    love, love, LOVE the dark cabinetry!

  20. Laurie

    That kitchen is beautiful! I love the wall of tile and the colors they chose. It’s nice to see a dark wood featured to mix it up a little (:

  21. SJN

    I’m so glad to read this! I love stained wood also and we’re doing our kitchen in stained cabinets as we speak. I read a design blog where the author only likes white cabinets for a kitchen, she makes that very clear. I just took out the old white cabinets and we wanted a change. I love the warmth of wood. We have travertine tile floors and I thought the wood cabinetry would give us the warmth we’re missing from the floors.
    So to each his own I say! Just love what you do.

  22. Luciane at

    Really beautiful! Interesting enough I’m debating on painting my cabinets… now I’m really not 100% sure anymore. :-)

    Have a wonderful day!


    Luciane at

    Post of the Day: Brad Ford’s Home.

  23. Mrs. C

    I’m sticking w/ painting mine white, even though I really love this kitchen you shared. Variety is good, not everyone needs white cabinets. How boring the world would be if all kitchens were the same. What I really like are the light fixtures above the sink, LOVE!!! I need a new light over mine, and that would work w/ the color scheme I’m going for.

  24. Chris

    Thankyou for featuring wood cabinets. I think all the white kitchens are starting to look so dated and plain to me. I have a wood stained cabinet kitchen with the perimeter a nice rich brown, and the island a more red stain and I love it. It is so welcoming and warm. My counters and backsplash are light which balances it all out.

  25. Dana

    I really like the last photo – the creamy/grey subway tile with the darker woods and nickel lights.

    The vintage looking hex tile in “colors of the sea” in the third photo is also amazing. Wow. What a wonderful focal point that tile could make in a bathroom!

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. Fiona's Mosaic

    I love light and white etc……but the dark wood holds a special place in my heart. That’s why even thoughI’m lightening up around our house (the bedrooms mostly) the library had to have dark wood. It just had to.

    Can you imagine an old english library….in white?? I can’t! lol

    God bless!

  27. Karen B

    When I saw this kitchen in House Beautiful I sighed a big sigh of relief. I have white cabinets now, but in about a month we’re moving to a new house with Cherry cabinets. If I had built the home from scratch, my natural inclination would be white cabinets. But, my new ones are beautiful with travertine countertops. So, I’ve been searching and searching for stained cabinet inspiration. This is the only one I’ve found so far that I LOVE. You can see the potential here:

  28. Ann H

    Thank you for finally featuring wood cabinets! I live in a Craftsman-style house, and the people who lived here before us painted the solid-maple wood cabinets a creamy white color. We’re in the process of trying to take our house back to it’s Craftsman roots, and every time I look at the paint on those cabinets, I want to just cry. Once you paint wood, it will never again look good stained without some serious hard work and time that I just don’t have right now! So until we have several thousand dollars to re-do the kitchen, I’m stuck with that painted wood that looks so out of place here. Oh, well-something to look forward to when all the other projects are done!

    • Melissa

      Oh, that is sad when people don’t realize what they are doing and now you have to live with it! My old house was the same way, the people before us destroyed some of the original English details and it killed me!! Luckily they left SOME things untouched, but what did was truly awful!

  29. {darlene}

    I loved this kitchen too! I was surprised to see that the kitchen featured was from where I grew up. Fun twist.
    Those hexagon tiles are amazing! (yes. I just scrolled back up and counted how many sides there were…..}

  30. teresa

    Beautiful, beautiful….I have a love of both wood and painted cabinets….in the CV house I had the top cabinets painted white and the island is natural dark wood…love it that way.
    Thanks for all you do.
    Happy day

  31. Heidi Milton

    I Love it! You just completely described my decorating ADD! I don’t understand it, but I have to go with it… and yes, I like rooms that evolve, too. That’s how I roll. I’ll be devastated if I’m ever “done.” Probably have to knock out a wall or two. :)
    BTW, the wood is lovely, so warm… I’m picky about wood and this is gorgeous.

  32. Meredith

    “Decorating ADD”…thanks for the diagnosis!!
    I have it too!

  33. Cotehele

    Wow, thanks for sharing this is a beautiful kitchen! The grated cabinet doors are so cool. I think spectacular wood give an understated formal quality in the kitchen. I know what you are saying about white kitchens, though. I could not make up my mind so there are wood in the kitchen and white in the bakery.

  34. Karen

    I loved your last house. I too love dark woods, even though I find myself selecting white kitchen images. I think there is nothing like a beautiful piece of furniture that has natural distressing and has been maintained well.


  35. Jody

    I love the warmth of wood and I have quite a bit of it in my home. I’m so glad you highlighted “wood” today. I like the mix of textures and styles here.


  36. Sandy

    ha! aren’t we all insane?

    can’t wait to see all the updates, Melissa!


  37. Theresa

    Love that kitchen. We are living in a fairly new home and it just needs the decorating elements, including paint. I love that we are basically working with a blank slate but, can also be overwhelming. I love the concept of mixing textures. It definitely adds interest!

  38. susan

    Melissa, I do not believe you have ADD or are “weird”–unless there’s a big bunch of us who are! I grew up with tons of real wood-both dark&light, hardwoods, wide plank pine floors, all cabinetry &every plank done by daddy&a retired carpenter (one of my “adopted” grampas). I love the smell of fresh sawn wood; stood on every tile dad laid in the family room addition when I was 7 (herringbone pattern+hardwood paneling cant find unless go to sawmill, fireplace…my fave rm ever). He still tells ppl about me helping reroof the garage when I was 10! I digress…(i have comment ADD) Anyway-i do things in reverse! I’ve been collecting pieces&decor for at least 12 yrs, stashing&picking palettes for 6yrs!As much as I wanted them to be home&well forever,it didnt happen.So I finally have to take the mantle of promises made all my life&care for the treasures they asked me to love&tell the memories to future generations.I have planned my life&home around them since i have been in this house-17yrs-so all “temp” til now!

    • susan

      PS-Over the yrs i’ve taken care of the one who wasnt in the “big city hospital” and then was the postop ward when whoever was released. What’s funny is that *they* decided where things were gonna go&how they’d look with certain colors (they meant window treatments i’m sure,not paint! With all the wood at home,the walls were neutrals-no wonder am tired of neutrals!). And y’know what? They did good! It’s mostly how it’s gonna happen! :D

  39. Anita

    I think those cabinets are beautiful and I love the mix of materials. But it’s those hex tiles that bug me a bit. I love the color but they just make it feel more bathroom to me then kitchen. I like the second photo better with the mix of brick and subway tile. I think the use of different counter tops is great too.

  40. Irma Kentie

    The kitchen is beautiful and am delighted to see something in natural woods.I have white kitchen cupboards, which I am constantly cleaning. The rest of the house is trimmed in med. brown woodwork, we live in a 1930 home. I often wondered why decorators always want to paint all wood trim in white. I finally saw an interview with Sarah Richardson, and Tommy, where she was asked that question.And Sarah’s take on that is that when you have a room with natural woodwork, it takes centre stage. Not a beautiful piece(s) of furniture or something else you might want to be the focus.So the painted trim makes it recede into the room, so your focus can be on furniture. Which I can totally agree with. As in that kitchen the natural cupboards are the focus.
    I do have some beautiful ,antique wood furniture but I still dont mind the attention the woodwork gets when people come into our home.

  41. Carolyn

    i’m so tired of seeing painted cabinets! ***yawn!*** thanks for this post!

  42. Kate

    You are so right! This kitchen is beautiful, too. That wall is incredible…..

  43. Sonya

    Hahaahaa! I’ve been following your blog for a few months but I was browsing some of your older posts and stumbled onto this one. Decorating ADD….I just posted about that the other day too! I thought I was the only person out in blogland that can’t stay focused and finish one room with a complete reveal. I bounce from room to room and I don’t ever feel like I finish anything before I’m ready to change it again. Love it!!!


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