Professional baker Jodi Gordon softens the look of her hardworking kitchen with country colors and finishes. Toned-down primaries—sunny yellow, ruddy terra-cotta and cornflower blue—instantly say "French country." Start with a focal color, such as yellow on cabinets. Accent with the other hues.
Midtone woods, such as the distressed alder on the island, suit the room's old-world style and stand up to wear and tear. Other good bets: walnut and hickory. Hollow wood ceiling beams add farmhouse character.
Mix French country patterns for a homey vibe. Red toile cozies up a slipper chair at a built-in desk. Checks are another traditional motif.
A fireplace surround made of gray Missouri limestone looks original to the house. "Lots of historic homes in the area are made of this locally quarried limestone," Chris says. If natural stone is plentiful in your area, it's an affordable option. Otherwise, try stone veneer for similar rustic appeal.
For authenticity, mix in earthy materials that would have been used 200 years ago, says kitchen designer Chris Berry. The kitchen's honed soapstone countertops age gracefully. (Slate is a less-pricey alternative.) Copper reacts with air and acids to turn verdigris, as on the pendant lights. But that's part of its charm; polishing ruins it.
Reclaimed terra-cotta tiles from France make up the flooring here. For similar charm, install new terra-cotta or unglazed ceramic tiles. Pockmarks are a plus for a worn-over-time look.
Kitchen designer Chris Berry, BrooksBerry Kitchens and Baths, 751 Old Frontenac Sq., St. Louis (314/872-7720; brooksberry.com).
Companion Bakery and Deli (Homeowner's restaurant) 8143 Maryland Ave., Clayton, Missouri (314/352-4770; companionstl.com).
KITCHEN: Cabinetry Custom by BrooksBerry Kitchens and Baths (see Kitchen designer). Countertops Soapstone, custom by BrooksBerry Kitchens and Baths (see Kitchen designer). Faucets (Main and island) Newport Brass (949/417-5207; newportbrass.com). Flooring Reclaimed terra-cotta tiles from France. Paint colors Custom. Pendants Vintage. Range hood Copper, custom by BrooksBerry Kitchens and Baths (see Kitchen designer). Range top Viking (888/845-4641; vikingrange.com). Rug Sisal, color: tweed. Pottery Barn (888/779-5176; potterybarn.com). Sinks (Main) Shaws RC3018, white fireclay. Rohl (800/777-9762; rohlhome.com). (Island) RBX 110 stainless-steel undermount round bowl sink. Franke (800/626-5771; franke.com). Wall ovens Viking (see Range top).
FIREPLACE AREA: Fireplace Missouri limestone surround and soapstone hearth, custom by BrooksBerry Kitchens and Baths (see Kitchen designer). Urn Tuscan small double-handled urn. Pottery Barn (see Kitchen, Rug).
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2012.)