Wanting a more casual feel, this family combined their kitchen and living room into one cozy space.
The Room That Has It All
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / styling Alan Henderson

Multitasking is the American way. One need only look at the evolution of the Southern home for proof. The kitchen, once isolated from the home's more social areas, is fast becoming part of a larger space that includes areas for casual dining and lounging on the sofa.

Watch the family room TV while you wash dishes, or fix the evening meal while talking to your children who are doing their homework at the table. Prepare hors d?oeuvres while chatting with guests as they mingle.

The kitchen/family room in the North Carolina home of Rob and Margaret Mitchell is a perfect example of how to combine two spaces for convenience and comfort. Residential designer Jenny Pippin and interior designer Tracy Collins created an open kitchen with a laid-back sitting area.

The Right Ingredients
Part of what makes the multiuse room work are the materials. The cream- colored cabinets in the kitchen are matched by another set at one end of the family room, tying the two areas together. Antique heart-pine floors are laid throughout. A khaki color on the walls enhances the light atmosphere.

Because the space is so large, it allows for a substantial island that visually divides the room. The piece, painted black, provides the counterspace that most cooks only dream about, but it doesn't skimp on details such as carved legs. Armoire-style cabinetry in an alcove between the kitchen and formal dining room has the same rich black finish.

Pretty and Practical
The furnishings in the sitting area are just right for this couple and their three young children. An area rug defines the cozy spot, which includes two swivel armchairs and a small sofa. The pieces are upholstered in kid-friendly shades of cocoa brown.

The combination of these multifunctional spaces?the kitchen with its delicious aromas and the sitting area with its inviting softness?is what truly makes a family room.

Residential design by Jennifer Pippin, Pippin Home Designs, Inc., Cornelius, North Carolina, (704) 895-0000 or www.pippinhomedesigns.com; builder was Artisan Custom Homes, Davidson, North Carolina, (704) 987-9369; interior design by Tracy Collins Antiques & Interior Design, Charlotte, (704) 377-6666; sofa and chairs from Lee Industries, www.leeindustries.com (R); cabinetry is Brookhaven by Wood-Mode, www.wood-mode.com (R); wall paint is Crisp Khaki #234 by Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.com (R).

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This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.