Interior Design for Living: Remodeling trend blends family room into kitchen

By Susan Spellmeyer

In building or renovating today's homes, many people choose to combine various living areas into one space. It could be bedroom, bathroom and sitting room, or the din­ing room and study. The most popular version centers around the kitchen, dining area and family room.

What appeals to families and their lifestyles is having one large room that serves many functions.

When combining the kitch­en, dining area and family room into one, the center of activity is the work space, which frequently is a lot more open in design than in kitchens of the past. It enables more than one per­son to move around and work comfortably.

The friendly, relaxed at­mosphere is inviting. It eliminates the syndrome of someone being "stuck in the kitchen" — particularly when entertaining guests. It also al­lows family members to share in preparing or cleaning up after a meal.

In today's kitchen, in addi­tion to "the latest time-saving appliances, there is more counter space. Things are within easy reach. Often spoons, knives and spatulas put in baskets or pottery. Pots and pans frequently are suspended from a rack above the cook top. Efficiency is of prime interest.

Placing stools around an is­land counter is an idea that works well. People can sit and talk while the meal is be­ing prepared. The stools are also convenient for quick meals or a snack. Again, the informality is appealing.

To one side of the kitchen work space one might place a table and chairs for meals, school projects, playing games, paying bills or writing letters. Many people like to incorporate a desk into the design of such a room, but sometimes that is not feasible due to space restrictions.

To the other side of the work space might be a sitting area that replaces the tradi­tional concept of the separate family room.

There may be a television, stereo and bookshelves. Peo­ple can sit and watch televi­sion, listen to music or read and still be together.

Although the room serves many functions, it should be treated as one.

The floor covering should be practical — wood, ceramic tile or vinyl — with accents of area rugs in the sitting area and possibly under the table. Colors on the floor, walls and upholstery should be coordi­nated throughout. Heavily patterned wallpaper would not be appropriate in such a large space. One would tend to tire of it quickly and it is limiting. A more restful and interest­ing treatment would be to use a small scale pattern or tex­ture.

Art, baskets, tapestries and plants may be displayed. Such touches are more con­ducive to a multifunctional living space and don't "read" kitchen.

The spaces should flow into one another by an open room arrangement and color co­ordination.

The cost of construction to­day often limits the amount of space available to us.

This combining of living areas not only makes sense economically, but also suits many people's lifestyles.

All the daily activities of a family can coexist in such a combined space. It becomes a true family room.