How can a family room adjacent to the kitchen function as a children’s play area, offices for Mom and Dad and a family television room and still serve 18 to 20 guests when the couple entertains?
That was the challenge to interior designer Diane Poff when a young professional couple with three small children asked her for help with their Roanoke County home. Poff was a good choice, too, because she believes children should be considered in home design. She has had a white sofa in her living room since her son Chris was 18 months old. He now attends college.
To get started, Poff queried the couple on their tastes in design and furnishings. They liked simple lines. She also asked them to list everything that had to go in the room, down to how many DVDs it needed to accommodate.
The kitchen-family room looked out onto the back yard. A dining bar marked the edge of the kitchen area. The space between it and the family room, which the couple left vacant, had French doors leading to the patio and outdoors.
A sofa had been placed with its back to this space to delineate the family room and to face a television on the end wall. To the right was a wall; to the left, a wall interrupted by one large window, which provided the main light to the area. Total space was about 15 feet by 15 feet.
The initial project was to make the space flow better and serve its many purposes. “You don’t want to do a room that shows off the rest of the house as shabby,” Poff says.
One of the decisions that had to be made was whether or not to add a fireplace. The couple decided on a working gas fireplace placed on the end wall to serve as a focal point.
Cabinets were the solution to creating multi-purpose space. Poff sketched out a plan for review by a cabinetmaker and a contractor. The cabinets could not be deeper than 12 inches to keep as much of the room open as possible. Her clients were invited to visit the cabinetmaker’s shop to see his work and help select a style.
The completed project features children’s pull-out desks on the exterior wall, which also features a large magnetic writing board for displaying their artwork and the like. Cabinets provided storage space for their paints, crayons and craft needs. As the children grow, the space can accommodate their school supplies and computers. On the corner near the children’s units, vintage-style hooks placed at child level are ideal for holding outerwear. On the interior wall, cabinets conceal two adult-size desks, with pullout work space and storage cabinets and drawers that conceal everything from dress-up costumes for the youngsters to the DVDs. The television also has a place on this wall.
A casual dining table and chairs and a chandelier, designed by Poff and built by blacksmith Glen Bryant of Alleghany County, occupy the once-empty space between the kitchen and family room. Antique Hitchcock chairs, made in Connecticut by L. Hitchcock and found by Poff in a consignment shop, are the perfect weight for the children to carry to their play desks. Two occasional chairs on rollers provide desk seating for the parentsor for guests.
To complete the project the sofa was placed parallel to the exterior window, but away from the wall to allow for flow around the room. Across from it are two chairs that swivel 360 degrees, allowing for television watching or chatting with guests seated on the sofa. A cocktail hassock in the center of the room can be used for additional seating or for serving.
The project was designed with additional changes in mind. In the next stage, the family-room window will be replaced with a bay window area large enough to accommodate a sofa and chair and a door that will connect to a wrap-around patio.
Recessed ceiling lights have been put on separate dimmers to allow adjustment for the room’s use at any given time.