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Create A Bistro-Style Kitchen

The bistro originated in a region in France, jus t outside of Paris. Those who travelled from the countryside to the city brought along good wine and food and met with others to partake in wonderful meals. This established what we now regard as the French bistro. Other European countries followed suit and today, the neighbourhood bistro is still a favourite gathering place in France, Italy and other countries whose culinary delights are treasured and honoured.

A kitchen decorated in the bistro style can be a warm and inviting space. The décor is relaxed and is meant to be comfortable and welcoming. The bistro is not the place for fussy, white table linens and grand place settings, but rather, an eclectic mix of Old World charm and modern convenience. Even the smallest kitchen can be enhanced with a bistro feel and it is a look that is easy to achieve and maintain.

The best part of having a bistro theme is that you can use a lot of what you already have. Colour ful , mix-and-match earthenware and cutlery add charm and interest so you don’t have to go out and buy matching dishes and designer cutlery.

Pots and pans need not be stored away, which is a great thing if you are short on cupboard space. Again, the casual, open design of the bistro allows for pots, pans and utensils to hang out in the open. Decorative pot racks and utensil holders are a must for the bistro-style kitchen. Black, wrought iron or brushed steel accents add architectural interest to the space.


An indoor window awning is a great choice for the bistro kitchen. The view to the outside remains unobstructed while the awning provides a finished look and a quaint touch. If you want to know how to make your own awning check out sites like BHG.comand you’ll be sure to find simple “how to” instructions for this easy window treatment. If you need more window coverage, consider adding a café curtain below the decorative awning. This treatment will still allow light to filter in but will provide the needed privacy.

The walls are all about colour and texture. If you are lucky enough to have exposed brick in your kitchen then use it to your advantage. If not, use stucco or a plaster-paint treatment on a focal wall to give the space an Old World look. The trick is to use more than one wall treatment without making the space look busy. A little brick here, some rich colour there and a touch of Venetian plaster over there can all work together to create a stunning space. This is a great option if your walls are not exactly in prime condition because you can camouflage imperfections with textural treatments.

Slate, stone or ceramic flooring that warm with the sun are a great choice for the bistro kitchen. Choose larger tiles in earthy tones that have a muted pattern to give the feeling of being outside. Consider adding scatter rugs with decorative designs to add colour to the space.

Wooden cabinets can be painted in a rich colour or can be stained in a dark, espressocoloured stain for maximum punch. You could also mix things up by painting or staining the doors and cabinet fronts in two complimentary colours or stains.


With the Old World theme still comes the need for modern convenience. Go ahead and treat yourself to that espresso machine and have it out in plain sight. These modern pieces go well with the timeless backdrop. Stainless steel appliances and countertops will be winning combinations against rugged brick walls.

A bistro table and chair set is a great option for a smaller kitchen. Sets made of wrought iron and wicker or wood are a good combination to look for.


Bistros are synonymous with good wine so a nice wine cabinet or rack is a good addition. If you are not a wine drinker consider adding the elements of wine-making through motifs (such as grapes) in artwork and accents.

Black and white photography would be another good option for artwork in the bistro kitchen. If you are a photographer, try shooting artful shots of fruits or bottles of wine for your kitchen. Artistic photos can add tons of drama when printed in black and white or sepia.

The bistro is comfortable, casual and inviting. Distressed wall finishes mixed with modern appliances make for a winning combination!

– Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Winnipeg

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

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