Ten ways to give your kitchen an international flavour
Thursday, 15th May 2014, Jane Gibson
Although the traditional British kitchen is always a winning look, you might decide you want something a little bit more exotic. You might not be able to afford to travel the world, but there's no reason why you can't bring a little bit of your favourite country into your kitchen. An international influence can turn the room into a big talking point, whether your theme is subtle or a complete, faithful recreation.
Here are ten great countries that will give your kitchen a new and interesting look.
Indian cuisine is known for its heavy use of spices and every kitchen in India has a huge rack full of them, which is ideal for adding colour to the room. In fact, it's a good idea to take a look at the different colours of spice you can get and design your kitchen around those colours - think green, yellow, red and orange. Indian kitchens typically have very dark wooden cabinets, with a white countertop.
A popular Indian pattern is paisley, which features colourful teardrop-shaped motifs. A paisley wallpaper or some patterned tiles would look great in any Asian-inspired kitchen. Elephants are also a huge part of their culture, so a sweet, little statue wouldn't go amiss.
Traditional Spanish kitchens tend to be light, airy and very welcoming. Pick dark wooden cabinets and contrast them against bright yellow walls. If you have a small kitchen and therefore want your kitchen to be a bit lighter, white cabinets work just as well. For the worktop, an orangey shade of granite looks great. The Spanish are quite fond of having simple patterns in their kitchen and if you're a big fan of your meat, some hanging chorizo in the coolest corner of the room is a sure way to help you work up an appetite.
When it comes to Japanese design, simplicity is key. Modern Japanese kitchens can be quite clinical and everything tends to be made out of steel. However, traditional Japanese kitchens can really add some elegance to your home. Blue and black are popular colours in Japanese design, so think reddish brown furniture and a blue granite island countertop. A tansu storage chest is a must; not only do they look beautiful, they also give you plenty of space to put your kitchenware away in.
Don't forget that in Japan, they have sliding doors - adding these to your kitchen will really finish off the room stylishly.
French kitchens tend to be country themed and often feature cockerels, so leave your eggs out on display in a neat little basket. Wooden storage crates also give a kitchen that rustic feel that the French love so much. Try finding vintage cabinets or ones that look a little bit worn at the edges. Popular colour themes include white, blue and grey. Finish the room off with a fancy chandelier and a rustic wine rack. Voilà!
Although American kitchens have the potential to be quite subtle and traditional, true American style is all about being big, brash and bold. A 50s diner theme is an excellent way to introduce the states into your home. Most American diners are bright red, but realistically you can go with any colour as your theme as long as it's bright. For your seating, you can either go with a breakfast bar, complete with classic diner stools or you can create a booth with sofa style seating. If you have the room to do so, why not choose both?
Of course no American diner is complete without the classic checkerboard flooring. A jukebox and amusingly-shaped tomato sauce dispensers are optional, though.
As you will have probably already gathered, Scandinavian kitchens tend to be very simple. Most are just plain white, but you can add as much colour as you like, as it creates a great contrast. Don't go too overboard though, try white walls and cabinets and just inject a little bit of bold colour here and there, perhaps using your kitchen accessories. Again, to keep everything monochrome, choose a white or black granite for the countertop.
Swedes are also a fan of checkerboard flooring, but if you aren't, go for wooden flooring instead. To add a bit more of a natural touch into the room, accessorise with some nice leafy plants.
It's probably best not to go for an African themed kitchen if you have a very small kitchen, as the dominating colour theme is brown, which might be a bit too dark for an enclosed space. For the wall colour, try a reddish brown and pick similarly coloured wooden cabinets. Make sure the two shades differ though, otherwise the cabinets will simply blur into the wall. An ebony stained dining table makes a great centrepiece for the room.
Copper accessories, such as pans hanging over the oven, work well. In Kenyan households, it's common to see masks and paintings hanging on the walls, so there's no reason why you can't incorporate some African art into your kitchen too. Leopard, zebra and giraffe prints will also no doubt go down well.
Russian kitchens are all about being cosy, family orientated and in touch with nature. This means only natural materials should be featured in the kitchen; so if you want to be authentic, don't use anything plastic. Almost everything in the kitchen is wooden, but the countertop can be granite as it's a natural material. When it comes to cooking accessories, it's best to go with cast-iron pots and pans.
To really give your kitchen that Russian feel, get your hands on some traditional painted spoons and plates. These look great hung on the wall and a Russian doll will look sweet on that spare bit of shelving space.
Italians have very big families, so they need large kitchens that are great for talking in as well as cooking. Again, brown is a popular colour here, so go for dark vintage wooden cabinets and an ebony countertop. Instead of having a plain splashback, opt for tiles - yellow is a good colour to pick, as it will go well with the wooden cabinets.
To really welcome Tuscan culture into your kitchen, keep different shapes and shades of pasta in transparent containers. Make sure to have your favourite Italian wines on display too.
When it comes to a Mexican kitchen, the brighter the better. Pick bold colours and don't be afraid to go a little bit crazy. Yellows, oranges and dark blues tend to feature heavily in Mexican kitchens in particular. Try combining wooden cabinets with dark granite worktops and deep blue appliances.
Patterned tiles are a must too, featuring crosses or simple floral designs. Of course you can't have a Mexican kitchen without a cactus, but just keep it somewhere where you're not going to accidentally prick your hand with it whilst cooking.
It's not difficult to inject a bit of the Mediterranean or Far East into your kitchen with a little bit of hard work. Take a look at how other countries choose to design their homes and incorporate what you find into yours. You never know, it might just give your kitchen the revamp it needs.