My clients wished to create a formal dining room, updated family room, and an enlarged and modern kitchen in the same area occupied by the family room/kitchen of their mid-1960’s home. Numerous design studies revealed that squeezing all three separate functions- a family room, formal dining, and expanded kitchen- into the existing floor area would yield three cramped, nonfunctional spaces. A decision was made to reduce the program down to two primary functions- family room and formal dining/kitchen- and the concept of a “formal eat-in kitchen” was born. The dining area design took shape around a distinctive pub-height table that the clients had recently acquired.
The first task was to create the feeling of separate spaces without adding any walls. The ceiling of the kitchen/dining end of the space was lowered to set it apart from the adjacent family room. A coffer was carved out of the portion of lowered ceiling directly above the spot where the new dining table was to go. While distinguishing the dining area from the kitchen, this coffer also provides the dining space with plentiful daylight, thanks to its Solatube skylight. Round LED lights mounted to the kitchen ceiling mimic the circular shape of the Solatube. By adding elements such as the coffer and framed artwork to the dining area, it was possible to add formality to the dining area, expand the kitchen, and fit new appliances and countertops, all without a costly addition to the house.
The family room ceiling retained its original height except where soffits were added. The soffits accommodate HVAC ducts to a previously-unheated room at the far end of the family room. The wall at this end of the family room originally had a fireplace set into a rather plain slumpstone masonry wall. This wall was completely redesigned, making use of the original firebox but with new stone veneer and a large wood mantle. Glass shelves, a recessed audio/video equipment area, and new accent lighting helped to complete the transformation. The fireplace wall design, with its flat screen TV, truly brings the family room out of the 1960’s and into the modern era.