A kitchen is often used as so much more than a simple cooking space. Whether your family is clustered in and around the kitchen at the end of another busy weekday or you’re cooking a wonderful weekend gourmet meal with friends or extended family are joining in festive holiday events in your home, the kitchen often becomes a central social gathering place. When this happens, it’s nice to have a connecting space such as a family room or den that allows the opportunity for everyone to interact, without having everyone right in the kitchen. That’s where the open floor plan comes in.
It’s an idea with wide popular appeal, and realtors say that ads that specify an open floor plan attract the most potential buyers. Between school, work, and numerous other obligations, most people have packed schedules. The ability for family and friends to be together in one large area, centered around the warmth and comfort of the kitchen, provides a communal hearth for today’s home.
So how do you create this kind of welcoming place? Designing an open floor plan that connects the kitchen with a family room or den requires stepping back and looking at the overall space. The two areas must connect visually; there should be a similar theme and style between the two rooms. When designing a kitchen, there are many different ways to achieve this aesthetic balance with a family room or den.
For starters, the island is a perfect transition piece between family room or den and kitchen. Today’s islands are larger in size than ever before, serving to accommodate social activities that take place close to the kitchen. As a result, islands are no longer being seen as simply functional cooking and prep places, but they can now also act as areas to dine, play, and work—and their appearances can reflect this. Sofas (some positioned higher for dining), cushy banquettes, and other soft seating options can be installed around these islands. This creates both comfortable places to sit as well as a visual connection to areas beyond the kitchen. In addition, an island can also function as a piece of furniture. With dressed-up trim, a beautiful cabinet finish, perhaps legs or a decorative valance at the lower toe kick space, and dressy hardware, the kitchen island can compete with any furniture piece in the space beyond. A countertop of natural stone or other luxury material adds elegance and style.