The Trending English Country Kitchen: How to Get the Look

I mentioned the trending English Country kitchen in March 2023 but how do we know it’s really picking up traction?

Because it’s on the cover of House & Home magazine this month:

English Country Kitchen Canadian House & Home

Can something timeless ever really be OUT?

In the shadow of this new refined-rustic look for kitchens, there’s been a lot of press recently on how the White kitchen is OUT and colour (including beige) is back IN.

Remember, just because subway tile isn’t trending right now, doesn’t mean it’s still not a timeless and extremely versatile backsplash or surround. White kitchens are no different. It’s simply not THE hottest NEW look at the moment. And we saw a LOT of them in the black and white trend. While many of them lacked the attention to detail and styling that make a white kitchen beautiful, I would argue that a well done white kitchen still has the best longevity.

What exactly is the English Country Kitchen?

In case you were wondering what exactly sums up this new kitchen trend, I think Martha Stewart said it best:

All white walls and cabinets are being swapped for patterned wallpaper, earth-toned backsplashes, vintage-inspired floor tile and personal trinkets.

It’s almost like, if we don’t have the perfect framed vintage piece of art hanging in the kitchen right now, we’re missing out:


Overall, the look is the complete opposite of the low personality kitchens of the last few decades. From the professional industrial kitchen look of the early noughties, and the somewhat severe and lifeless look of grey and harsh black in kitchens,  to yes, the not so well done white kitchens.

The new look is about looking heritage, lived in, cozy and personal. (Honestly, this is what good styling does too, adds interest and personality), which you can still add to your white kitchen as well!

Some hallmarks of the English country kitchen look are:

  • Warm vintage looking hardware and lighting.
  • Charming and quirky personal touches in styling. Think vintage art, handmade crockery, hanging pots, decanted dry goods, and utensils on display, cafe curtains.
  • Rustic wood accents.
  • The palette is a range of warm neutrals and rich colours on cabinetry and walls. Often some pattern such as a vintage wallpaper or checkerboard floor.

The style includes a range of refinements. Some are very rustic, with the emphasis on a connection to nature and humble simplicity. Others are more luxurious where warm colour palettes, aged metals and vintage styling give a nod to the traditional, but the details and finishes are elevated. 

Tricia, my Director of eDesign, and I are in a debate about whether the “English Country Kitchen” and the “English Countryside Kitchen” are the same thing (Tricia) or slightly different (me). To my ear “English Countryside Kitchen” sounds like the more refined version. What do you think?

Creating a cozy look and feel in a timeless way

I wonder if the arrival of this look means we’ll also return to the Scandinavian eat-in kitchen table and chairs instead of an island. I talked about that in this post after a trip to Finland in 2019.

Cozy eat in kitchen

Architectural Digest

Both of the above kitchens are green. This is one of the reasons we added some more dramatic greens and blues to my Colour collection (three years ago) in both sets of large samples for BM and SW which you can get right here. You’ll also find the complete range of the very best warm neutrals for cabinets and walls in these collections. 

While these kitchens are not white, notice that the countertops are, making the cabinets still paintable when you want a change. In fact, this is how I would embrace this trend. Keeping the hard finishes timeless and versatile, while indulging the vibe in paint colours and styling details. 

Why is the white kitchen still timeless?

So what makes a white kitchen still timeless? Some iteration of the white kitchen has always been around so it’s hard to guess when it was installed. I would also say that when the fresh simplicity of a white kitchen is the goal, getting the details right is important. Pretty millwork details, lighting and hardware and personal touches with styling.

I helped a client choose the paint colours for her cabinets 15 years ago when she updated this 90s kitchen.

90s kitchen before

Ahead of the black trend, she painted the built-in china cabinet black and updated the microwave insert by replacing it with upper shelving with the black repeated. Overall, it’s now much harder to guess when this kitchen was installed compared to when it had the giveaway 90s ginger cabinets.

Updated 90s kitchen after

The biggest bonus was that the countertop no longer looked so pink because the orange wood stained cabinets pulled out the pink beige in the granite. Now the look is more balanced.

How we might update this kitchen today is with new counter stools and current lighting, but it still has a timeless look and feel.

It even has a ‘personal trinket’ as per Martha’s description (the clock below). 

Styling your kitchen adds personality

Sometimes the right white isn’t white at all

White or off white would be too stark with the earthy granite, so the cabinets were painted a taupe griege (when I chose this colour 15 years ago I had not invented my system yet). It looks pretty white in the photos but if you compare the cabinet colour to the cream pitcher in the tray you can see the difference.

The details of this kitchen and the warm black with a purple undertone that we chose is in my White is Complicated;  A Decorators Guide to Choosing the right white ebook you can purchase right here.

How to find the right paint colour (made easier)

In other news, we have not raised the prices of my collections of large paint samples in many years and the cost to make them has gone up dramatically, so if you’ve been thinking about buying them, now is the time! The prices will go up in March.

Here I am in my office when we first moved in. The entire house was taupe and I did a video here about identifying the undertone of the existing beige carpet that we removed.

How to use Maria Killam's Colour System

The same neutrals from my curated list of 50 are simply everywhere you go. Which board is the perfect match to the carpet?

Maria Killam Colour Boards

Yes it’s the second from the left.

If you want the lightest colour that relates to the undertone of the rug, you would choose the next shade lighter in the same undertone from the system colours and select a green beige complex cream, SW Neutral Ground.

You can see all four large paint sample collections here. I highly recommend you order yours now 🙂

buy large paint samples

And once again, where do you fall on the English Country vs. English Countryside debate. Are they the same thing? Slightly different?

Which term do you use? We seriously need your help to settle this one, haha!

Related posts:

New Natural Wood Kitchens: Timeless or Trendy?

2024 Colour Trends to Try in Your Home

Kristy’s Vintage Kitchen Refresh: Before and After

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