Q: We're planning to incorporate a little-used family room into our kitchen so as to expand the eating and sitting areas. We want to create a modern and uncluttered look, but all the family-type kitchens I see in magazines seem to be done in country or traditional styles. Could you suggest some materials that will help us achieve our aim -- without busting our budget?
A: You shouldn't have any major problems in reaching your goal. The really big-ticket item -- kitchen cabinets -- can now be purchased at an affordable price and in a sleek, contemporary styling that's consistent with your design preference. The savings comes from using state-of-the-art materials without the usual nostalgic camouflaging.
As an example of what you might do, take a look at this photo of an expanded kitchen-family area designed by Michael DeLuca of La Mesa, Calif. Armstrong World Industries initiated the project at their studio in Pennsylvania.
The room was laid out to accommodate a family that enjoys cooking, eating and relaxing in one active space, which also needed to be elegant enough for entertaining. Mr. DeLuca decided that a streamlined and efficient design would be the best way to meet those specifications.
He chose a palette of soft gray and white with accents of a stronger blue for the upholstery in the major seating area. The color scheme is punctuated by brilliant flashes in the artwork and accessories.
This theme builds from the floor up, beginning with the sleek Solarium Supreme floor covering in a pearl gray-and-white gridlike pattern. White cabinets and gray counter tops extend the monochromatic look throughout the room.
The seating area was inexpensively fabricated by using white plastic laminate with removable cushions. Corian counter tops with an integrated sink, not shown in the photo, form softly curved corners. Besides helping to accent the contemporary styling, this type of construction has the advantage of being a safe addition to an active family space.
Don't forget the finishing touches. A colorful ceramic tile backsplash, along with easy-to-grasp stainless steel handles, will mesh comfortably with white cabinets.
As this model suggests, color and pattern are just as important as line and form in defining the style of your newly defined space.