1980s Provence style kitchen with apothecary drawers – 13 photos

apothecary drawerI think this is the first story on the blog truly celebrating something that is 1980s style — which is not always and oxymoron. At this weekend’s Berkshire’s estate sale of the year, it was love at first site for this 1980s kitchen that Dear Husband (DH) and I are guessing is what was part of the 80s megetrend of Provence style kitchens. In particular: adoration goes to the random incorporation of week-front base cabinet drawers decorated to mimic antique apothecary drawers. Okay, someone correct me if this is 1970s, or 1990s style, or if it’s not Provence, or if it’s not apothecary…  Timeline notwithstanding, Rose Pink et.al. by any other name would smell as sweet. Click on through for 12 more photos –>

1980s kitchen provence styleJust to get you situated, here is a longer angle on the kitchen. As you can see, the cabinets are basic white wood, slab door style. The backsplash are what I’d normally call a Delft style tile, but I think this also was considered French: Provence, Provencal, provincial — I thinks these terms are all considered one in the same and mean “from the region of Provence” but even more generically, “from the country-side. Of course, we see French Provincial style a lot throughout the 1960s. The Provence style kitchen were all the rage in the 80s and 90s. HELP! Am I right with this timeline?

apothecary drawers in a 1980s kitchenSame drawer (it’s one, not three) as in the first photo. In a followup visit to this estate, I discovered that the wood countertop above this drawer hinged upward from the back — so, if you wanted to get into the drawer directly from adjacent countertop, you could. I don’t know why you’d want to design it this way, but it was cool nonetheless.

apothecary drawer in a provence style kitchen

I think the simplicity of this kitchen is just wonderful. These drawers are an inspiration.

French apothecary drawers in a provence style kitchen
Who speaks French? What are the translations? Any wood experts out there? What is the wood – cherry?

The patina of the drawers is just lovely. Keep your patina, peoples!

apothecary drawersDetail shot so you can see the apothecary drawers are affixed to the base cabinet drawer/box. I kind of wonder if the drawer fronts are true antiques. This was the house of extremely wealthy people. They had beautiful, eclectic, well-traveled taste. They could easily have devised this.

hinges on 1980s kitchen cabinetsI tried to get a shot of the hinges on the base cabinet drawers. I think you call these “piano hinges.” It could well be there were custom made on site?

More construction detail. What do you think? Custom made?

apothecary drawersIf these drawer fronts were salvaged for an antique apothecary cabinet, then these narrower drawers would be have been on the upper part of the original cabinet…

stainless steel sink in a 1980s kitchenI don’t recall ever seeing this style of stainless steel sink – but then, I haven’t gone to look for it. It fills the space from the front apron all the way to the backsplash… and is integrated flat with the laminate countertops. Hmmm. I still think that if you’re going to go stainless — and to be sure, if you have this kind of room — get one with a drainboard, or two.

sub zero refrigerator in a 1980s kitchenSub Zero, doing its thing in the ’80s, same as today.  I have the side-by-side Sub Zero — pretty much the identical same styling cues, and the same appliance white color as this vintage model — in my kitchen. Today, these things cost as much as a used car. In fact, I chose to put off replacing my clunker for a few years so I could splurge on my fridge. See more vintage Sub Zero advertising here.

jenn-air range top

They had a Jenn-Air range top. The built-in double oven was Thermador. Sorry I did not take even more photos of this lovely space. I have to admit, my head was spinning with all the estate sale frenzy going on around me.

  1. Jordanna says:

    The apothecary drawers would be interesting in a steampunk design, especially with the brass labels. Are we allowed to talk about steampunk on this site, Pam? 😉

    I know my sister daydreams about a serious apothecary cabinet with myriad tiny drawers for spices and teas. And really it seems like I’ve seen sillier organizational tricks in kitchens.

    I apply the wardrobe rule to my own colour schemes – I don’t wear blue so I don’t decorate with blue because I don’t look good in blue – but Delft has a wonderfully timeless classic look to it when used correctly. And certainly it goes with MANY vintage styles and collectibles.

  2. Elaine says:

    The names on the drawers are botanical names of plants that have medicinal properties, so from an old time herbal pharmacy.

    E. Sapon = Euscaphis Saponica (aka Japonica). The Korean Sweetheart Tree from Japan

    Aloe Cap might refer to Aloe Vera Capsules

    Gelatine was used for making capsules

  3. Bonnie says:

    Jenn-Aire was popular in higher end kitchens back in the 80’s. I’ve lived in two houses that had Jenn-Aire ranges. While it seems like a great design to have integrated downdraft venting and interchangeable modular burners/grills, the downdraft didn’t work well and it was a frustrating experience swapping out the modules (especially the grill option which was hard to clean). The Jenn-Aire in the picture shows the modular insert with the cast iron type solid elements. I speak from experience when I say that those solid elements were a horrible idea — they were slow to heat up and slow to cool down which made for a very frustrating cooking experience.

    1. Elaine says:

      I have the same Jenn Air cooktop. The glass part wore out on one side so I replaced it with the cast iron. Since I have electric anyway, the time between heat up and cool down isn’t that bad. I use a wire star on the burner for when I want to cool down quicker, it lifts the pot up a little. I believe the original Jenn Air is early 80s, the cast iron part was early 90s.

  4. Gavin Hastings says:

    This looks like a quick 1980s makeover wiith the $ being spent on the appliances. The “guts” of the room looks 30s-40s, with some tricks thrown in to pull everything else forward 50 years. Those are piano hinges…and answer the need for contemporary seamless cabinetry makeover “on the cheap” – but the drawerfronts are completely fake.

    I think the whole French Gourmet Kitchen scheme began in the early 60s and got a big push from Julia Childs’ programs.

  5. Marion Powell says:

    Thinking about the words on the drawers, I’m pretty sure they are typical abbreviations for substances found in an old fashioned pharmacy.

    One of my doctors has bottles with this type of wording. He has lots of things from a great uncle’s pharmacy which dates to the late 1800’s.

    He also has a exam table with stirrups, all made of wood. Shades of the inquisition.lol

  6. Char says:

    Martha Stewart was big into this style, although on a much more sweeping and total level. If you go back through her earliest published books, you will see her kitchens with these kinds of details, but in darker colors and natural woods. I believe this style went into the early 90’s as well.

  7. Marion Powell says:

    I’m pleased you like this kitchen with the provence or delft backsplash. I had my wallpapered backsplash changed to blue and white delft tiles back in the fall.

    The salesperson at the fancy tile store where I bought the round tiles as well as the borders and the over the stove tile picture said she had never sold any of these tiles. She said everyone wants the stone look now. That’s true but I like my own style. However, it’s nice to know there are others who would appreciate my choices.

    1. Joe says:

      Congratulations! It’s nice to know there are still people out there who consider real style to be what THEY like, not what others are telling them they “have to have”. This entire wood cabinets / laminate flooring / granite countertop / stainless steel appliances / greige colors “style” we’ve been force-fed is awful (and you KNOW that 5 years from now, these same TV shows will be tearing all this stuff out to worship something new). No one seems to celebrate individual taste anymore.

      1. Just another Pam says:

        The question for me is what will they do with the millions of tons of granite? Hopefully someone will come up with something clever and stylin’ outside of tombstones. Oh my.

        1. pam kueber says:

          Granite countertops can be lovely and no doubt, durable. I totally understand why a homeowner would choose them. My goal is to show here that it’s just fine, too, to choose laminate – or to keep what you have in place if it’s in good shape. We’re gonna catch more flies with honey, as they say…

          1. Just another Pam says:

            My first choice would be laminate though after a multiple month unbelievable series of unfortunate events I went with concrete. I really like it as I live alone but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for a family. Not to say a family couldn’t be happy with it but it would have driven me mad when I had one.

            I read an article once about how many people decorate their home for resale even when they do no intent to sell so I think everyone should do what makes them happy and if other people don’t care for it, c’est la vie. I forgot that in parts of my reno and regret it.

            1. Patty says:

              I think some people justify spending big money on their kitchens by say ing they are dong it for resale value. It’s their money, they don’t have to answer or justify spending the money to anyone. Do what you like because it will all go out of style some day any way.

  8. Francesca says:

    The writing on the drawers is not French. The way it is abbreviated looks a bit like Latin, or if Joe is correct and they are off the shelf reproductions, possibly made up words designed to look like Latin.

    1. Joe says:

      Let’s hope they’re NOT made-up words! With all the different language variations out there, a homeowner could really be treading on thin ice. Talk about “awkward moment” potential at dinner parties! 🙂

  9. A very interesting kitchen, Pam. I agree with Jay that the sink is likely European, and I really like it! The tile is simple and unassuming. I think at least one of these people was a real cook and loved using her/his specially-designed kitchen. At about the same time this kitchen was probably refitted, my parents redesigned their kitchen for maximum cooking. My dad, especially, was all over Julia Child and French cooking. He was pretty good, too!

  10. Michelle Rice Sarma says:

    The Provence style kitchen was definitely a 1980’s trend. I had one in my first home and I loved it! We had a Jenn-Air range similar to the one shown. Custom cabinetry in oak with lots of built-ins and open shelving. I had a porcelain double sink in front of a window with a deep sill. I grew herbs there. The best part was the entire kitchen (counter tops and backsplashes) was tiled in white and cobalt blue with fruit and vegetable motifs. Each fruit/vegetable tile was unique. All I had to do upon moving in was hang a blue toile valance above the window and paint the walls a soft apricot. I still miss that kitchen. I’m now living with (sigh) 21st century modern. Depressing!

    1. Joe says:

      Sure sounds like you had a real nice kitchen! Let’s hope the subsequent owner appreciated what you left them. You have my deepest sympathy for being burdened with an up-to-the-minute-style (translation: BORING) kitchen.

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