Room for the family

Transform your kitchen into a cozy gathering spot with a dining nook
Peter O. Whiteley

If the kitchen is the hub of the home, then it ought to act like one. That's what Warren and Jennifer Lloyd felt about their tight, tired kitchen in their 1920s Tudor-style home in Salt Lake City. "The room was so cramped that to reach the oven, you had to step over the dishwasher door," Jennifer recalls. And with three young children, everyone seemed to be getting in the way.

Their solution: Turn the cramped alcove into an inviting dining nook by borrowing room from a closet (located opposite the original freestanding counter) and rearranging the appliances. "We gained just 15 square feet, but the kitchen feels triple the size," Jennifer says.

Replacing the old layout with the new nook created a lively spot for various activities ― family meals, homework, and craft projects. "From here, we have a good view into the new family room and out to the backyard, which makes it easy to keep an eye on our three kids," says Warren, the architect who designed the remodel.

Warren took a Craftsman-meets-contemporary approach to the makeover. He began by ripping out the all-white cabinets, counters, and backsplash. Then he substituted two versions of Shaker-style cabinetry unified by honed black granite counters and a golden-hued backsplash of 1- by 1-inch recycled-glass tiles by Oceanside Glasstile.

In the nook, the single, hourglass-shaped table leg, flanking birch bench seats, and beadboard paneling add a retro sensibility, while the black granite tabletop - which aligns in height with the kitchen counters - is both modern and practical.

The new glass-front cabinets next to the window give the kitchen a fresh, open look and put an attractive array of dishware ― in varied shapes and colors ― on display. A small black granite-topped island opposite the new farmhouse sink contains extra storage and replaces most of the counter space that was removed to make way for the dining nook.

Next: Kid-friendly details

 

For a little fun, Warren and Jennifer installed a blackboard on the family room side of the nook. It's low enough in the wall for even the youngest Lloyd to use as his personal canvas and has become the entire family's message center.

The smart reorganization and clever mix of materials exemplify how a small space can be stylish and functional. Now the Lloyds' kitchen is the place to be ― and everyone fits.

Design:  Lloyd Architects , Salt Lake City (801/328-3245).

Kid-friendly details

Smudges and a little mess go with the territory of a home with young children. These five details from the Lloyds' kitchen provide easy-care solutions.

The end of the bench backrest is wrapped in a narrow piece of stainless steel that can be wiped clean of the inevitable fingerprints.

The handsome seat cushions of the nook benches are covered in fabric that was selected for its bold pattern and color, then sent out to be treated with a bonded vinyl surface (vinyl­izing service from Americo Inc.; 800/626-2350; $67 for the first 14 yards, not including shipping). Any fabric can be coated in gloss or matte vinyl.

A retro accent that matches the look of the adjacent cabinet, the painted beadboard paneling lining the nook is also designed for no-fuss cleanup.

The lower, easier-to-reach section of the Hoosier hutch-style cabinet is filled with plates, glasses, and flatware for the kids. Adult dishware and accessories are kept in the out-of-reach glass-front upper cabinets.

The dining nook makes it possible for the kids to do homework, read, or draw and still be near Mom and Dad while they're preparing the meals. Also, with its warm wood accents and black granite counters, the kitchen is elegant enough for entertaining.

More: 17 amazing Before and Afters