Lounging around - Make the area adjoining the kitchen a cozy gathering place

Universal UClickFebruary 2, 2013 

  • Go for the flow When your family room functions as a natural extension of the kitchen, you want the two rooms to complement each other. Here’s how to make them work: • Paint colors should work well together. One option: Pull an accent color from the kitchen for the predominant color in the family room. • In an ideal world, the flooring would be the same. A large area rug can make the family room feel cozier. • When it comes to decor, you don’t want the two rooms feeling like completely different spaces. Try to mesh the furnishings and style for a natural compatibility.

While the kitchen remains the heart of the home, an adjoining family room or lounge extends its heartbeat of food and fun. Often filled with overstuffed furniture, a kitchen lounge can have a bar or fireplace so families can chill out and “lounge around” in a comfortable atmosphere.

Most families live in this part of the house, says Patricia Davis Brown, of her namesake firm in Vero Beach, Fla.

“People just naturally gather around food,” she says. “But everyone lingers in a comfortable living room or lounge that’s not cut off from the kitchen.

“The way we live and entertain today is much more informal. The kitchen area has become the place where kids do homework and families entertain, play games and hang out watching television.”

Whether you’re renovating an existing house or building a new home, treat the lounge as an extension of the kitchen area and make it a more intimate place for people to congregate. Brown says that means the look of the lounge should complement the kitchen’s design and style.

From the ground up: Start with the flooring and work your way up the walls. “When you step into the living area of the kitchen, it shouldn’t feel like you’re stepping into a different house,” she says. “The flooring should be a natural continuation of what’s in the kitchen.”

The flooring in the lounging area should be soft and warm, yet durable and easy to clean. Wood, tile or stone floors found in the kitchen can be continued into the lounge, but a large area rug or carpeting underfoot makes the lounge even more inviting than a cold, stark floor.

Color continuity: When choosing paint colors for the family room or lounge, look to the kitchen for continuity. If both spaces share a continuous ceiling, it’s wise to keep paint colors the same, too. However, Brown says if there’s a ceiling beam between the kitchen and the lounging area, there’s more room for creativity.

“This living space is meant to be more fun, so you can pull an accent color from the kitchen and make it the predominant color of the lounge,” she says. “The idea is to make (it) more accessible, and that can mean making it a more playful, colorful space, depending on the homeowners’ aesthetic.”

Easy care: Since many families end up living in this space, make sure the paint or wallpaper choice is one that is durable and can be easily cleaned.

Focus on fire: Many have a hearth in this room. The fireplace can be either wood-burning or gas, with a simple contemporary firebox or an elaborate stone hearth surround.

And it’s never been easier to get fired up about incorporating a fireplace into your design. A zero-clearance fireplace – made of metal with a masonry lining – is a self-contained unit, which allows homeowners to have a gas-burning fireplace that can be directly vented through an outside wall.

As a focal point, the fireplace doesn’t have to compete with electronic attention-grabbers. “With today’s flat-screen televisions, you can hang the TV above the fireplace and not have to re-orient the room to enjoy the fire or a family movie,” Brown says.

Furnish comfort: Furnishings provide the finishing touch. Pieces should be comfortable, yet fit a homeowner’s decorating sensibility. “Don’t place Arts and Crafts-style furniture into a home with a contemporary Asian-themed decor,” Brown says. “You want design elements that all play well together.”

Like the walls, make sure the furniture is durable and easily cleaned, especially if food will migrate into the area. Accent colors in the form of throw pillows can be swapped out on neutral-colored chairs and sofa.

Amenities such as a bar cart or a piano reflect how a family likes to entertain in this space. Well-placed lamps for reading, a cabinet that stores board games and a large coffee table to gather around are more reasons for families to lounge together.

“While everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat, everyone piles into the lounge to add to the memories of spending time together,” Brown says. “A lounge extends that feeling of warmth and comfort we all find in the kitchen.”

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