Interior Design for Living: Make eating and cooking areas inviting


Q: I need help with my kitchen. It is long, narrow and very dark. My cabinets are a medium brown, my floor is a copper-colored vinyl, and my counter tops are ceramic tile, again in a copper color. All of this must remain.

I have just wallpapered the room in blue and white, which I like.

I need to know how to add more light to the room. The primary work area centers around the sink, and that part of the room is especially dark because it only has one small window.

I would consider adding a skylight, but there's a crawl space above the ceiling. Also, I thought of installing a large window on the wall that faces south, but our neighbors would be able to look right into our kitchen.

There is another problem, which I haven't seen you discuss in your column, but to me is very real. Everyone in my family congregates by the dining room door, making it very difficult for me to work. How can I encourage them to move to the eating .area of the kitchen?

Thank you for your help.

A: First, let's tackle the problem of light in your room.

I can see that the space around this area would be dark. Not only is the window small, but it also faces north, which means you get little sunlight.

You mentioned that you would consider a skylight, but didn't think it possible because of the crawl space above. This may, or may not, be so, depending on the distance in height from the ceiling of the kitchen to the roof. If it's only a few feet — let's say 3 feet — then it may be feasible.

You would install the skylight in the roof, and frame out a tunnel down to the ceiling of the kitchen. If the opening in the ceiling is larger than the skylight itself, more light will flood into the room. It could work, and be very instrumental in solving your problem.

If the height in the crawlspace is substantially more than 3 feet, it probably would not be advisable, because the tunnel would be too deep, and the beneficial effects would be lost.

As for the addition of a large window on the south wall, your hesitancy over a lack of privacy is understandable, especially when you spend a lot of time in your kitchen. However, I would still advise you to consider it.

Facing south, a window would provide a tremendous amount of light, and you can deal with the privacy issue with the window treatments you select. For example, verticals, or any type of blinds, can be tilted to allow light in, and at the same time, prevent anyone from seeing into the room.

I think this might be an ideal solution. You'll get the badly needed light and still maintain your privacy. Even if the proximity of the neighbors was not a concern, you would probably want to control the amount of light coming through a south window.

Another suggestion for an artificial light source in the working area of your kitchen would be under-cabinet lights. They provide good light to your work surfaces, but are virtually invisi­ble because they are installed under the bottom of the upper cabinets.

Even though you didn't mention it, I am presuming that you have an overhead ceiling mounted light, and a light above your kitchen sink.

The problem of trying to entice people to move into the eating area, and away from your work area, must be a very common one.

You might consider moving the table closer to the garden window. The room is not very wide, but it is 13 feet long. Doing this would enable you to put a small-scale loveseat and chair at the other end of the room. This would create an inviting conversational grouping. Placing a table and lamp in the corner between them, and a wall-mounted light at the other end of the love seat, would make it an ideal spot for reading. This way people can be comfortable, still speak with you and, also, be out of your way as you work.

It would give a feeling of warmth. It may also encourage them to move to that end of t room.

You could use your blues for the fabrics and the rug, but you may want to add a warm color, such as a yellow. The yellow would tend to lighten or brighten the color scheme, and the copper and blue, combined with the yellow would be very attractive.

With the addition of extra light, and the new arrangement of furniture, I think this room layout is a lot more inviting. I hope you agree.