Living in the Kitchen

See how this Florida family created a kitchen that marries the best of traditional design with modern convenience.

Kathy and Jim Rathmann of Merritt Island, Florida, have a kitchen that balances an old look with a new design. While freestanding furniture pieces and beaded-board details give the space an old appearance, its open floor plan and modern appliances make it comfortably chic.

When the family was planning their house, they challenged architect Clem Schaub of Vero Beach to make it appear as if it had grown over time. "Jim wanted a house that looked like it had been built by his grandmother," says Kathy.

The kitchen reflects this concept. The beaded-board details on the island and cabinets give an aged feel. The plate rack, china cabinets, and even the island appear as if they are separate pieces of furniture rather than just built-ins.

Bright and Light
With three children on their way to school and mom and dad on their way to work, the Rathmanns are active in the mornings. Two tall windows face east, so natural light floods the room, reflecting off the light-colored cabinets. The bay window in the breakfast room provides afternoon light and a view of the Intracoastal Waterway.

It's bright even in the evening. The recessed lighting is great for overall illumination, and pendant lights and a chandelier highlight specific work areas.

The Island
The most prominent feature of this kitchen is its multipurpose island, which looks like a farm table. It is 9 feet long and 4 feet wide and accommodates a gas range, two ovens, and a vegetable sink. The hood serves as a convenient pot rack.

Open for Family
The spacious floor plan allows the kitchen to flow directly into the nearby breakfast room, essentially making it feel like one space. "The two work as one room but are set up in a nice way, as if the area were a family room," says the architect.

That's exactly what the kitchen has become. When Kathy and Jim are cooking, the kids are doing their homework at the table, and everyone is together.