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How to Create the Perfect Family-Friendly Kitchen

Five ways to give a traditional farmhouse kitchen some modern snap.

Photos: Tony Soluri

This roomy Elmhurst kitchen, in a house designed by Patrick Fortelka of Charles Vincent George Architects in Naperville, strikes just the right balance between classic and contemporary. It also has wonderful touches that any home cook would love, such as windows that open onto planters filled with fresh herbs. Fortelka shares his thoughts on creating a perfect family-friendly kitchen.

1. Ditch the “great room.” “For years, the typical house plan was a kitchen tacked onto the family room, which created issues with noise and mayhem. In this house, the family room still connects to the kitchen through an opening, but it’s much more closed off.”

2. Create a multi-functional space. “The main kitchen is 24 feet by 17 feet, and a secondary prep kitchen/butler’s pantry is 11 feet by 6½ feet. There’s room in the corner for a table, which the owner moves out from time to time. There is also a desk designed to look like a hutch piece, so it blends in. You can cook, work, or just sit and hang out there.”

3. Maximize natural light.“The most important thing in all of the houses we do is light. I wanted the kitchen to be bright throughout the day. It’s very unusual … this kitchen actually has views of both the front and back yards. You get east light coming in by the breakfast area, which is so critical to making the room bright. You’ve got windows that face south flanking the range and windows that face west on another side.”

4. Make sure there is room to cook.“This is a cook’s kitchen—all the equipment is close together and there’s good counter space. The butler’s pantry is used as a secondary kitchen space when family come to visit and want to help with meal prep.”

5. Retain a homey family vibe, but update it. “At its core, this kitchen has a lot of traditional pieces to it. But updated colors—whites, blues, and grays—give it a contemporary feel. In addition to the island, there is a freestanding counter-height table with stainless steel legs, which is very contemporary. And the refrigerators were left exposed instead of paneled.”

 

A butcher block next to the prep sink
A butcher block next to the prep sink comes in handy.

 

A desk designed by Patrick Fortelka
Patrick Fortelka designed a desk to blend seamlessly with the rest of the kitchen.

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