The Mountain Modern View in Kitchen for Rustic Grows Up

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When I was a kid, we spent a lot of time in Bridgehampton, on Long Island. My parents were house flippers before house flipping existed, and we were always wandering through cold, empty houses looking for their next project. Bridgehampton is fancy now, but in those days it was still at the tail end of life as a potato-farming community, a laid-back town with acres of flat, open land dotted with big old barns.

Of course, oceanfront farmland never lasts. The farmers sold their fields to developers, who put up bright, modern houses for weekend visitors, and their barns to yuppies from New York, who turned them into bright, modern homes for their weekend visits.

Sad as that transformation was, I have to admit I always loved walking through the converted barns. Something about their open floor plans and soaring spaces appealed to me then, and now. I liked the way they felt natural and rustic, but not woodsy or cutesy or dark, the way so many post-and-beam or log-style houses can.

Recently, I came across Food Network star and blogger Ree Drummond‘s kitchen. I liked it so much; I pitched it for a feature in one of the magazines I edit, Consumer Reports’ Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide.

We’ll be featuring the kitchen in our spring issue. Even though Ree’s kitchen is much larger and more raunchy in style than the converted barn kitchens I remember, it shares some of the same characteristics: An open layout, soaring ceilings, natural materials used in a contemporary way, and—perhaps most important—plenty of light.

Last month at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas I heard a term in the Delta Faucet booth that captures this balanced look perfectly. It came up when we were talking about the popularity of dark finishes for kitchen and bath faucets (and hardware, lighting, and just about anything else).

My guide mentioned that Delta had extended that finish to some of their sleeker faucets as part of a bid to appeal to the “mountain modern” trend. It was a codifying moment: finally, an umbrella to cover an unexpected mix of elements. I immediately adopted the phrase and stuck all the things I love about those old barn-houses under it.

Let me show you what I think of as “mountain modern”. I’d happily move into any of these, whether they enjoyed a past barn-life or not:

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