When storage, function, and an efficient work area are part of the kitchen plan, the result is an enviable space equipped for cooking and congregating.

Many people nowadays, when they think of building a new kitchen, automatically envision a sleek, commercial, stainless-steel setting. But this family decided on an alternate path when redoing their kitchen.

Donna and Ted Giles worked with local interior consultant Peggy Mussafer on their Montgomery home to create an inviting, comfortable kitchen that blends Southern hospitality with an old-world aesthetic inspired by their European travels. "Because it was dark and dated, the room needed a new personality," explains Donna. "We wanted it to have an old-world feel with rich materials and character."

Peggy concentrated on giving the original ranch-style kitchen enough flair for entertaining, while making it efficient enough that the Gileses could use it for everyday. Peggy says, "We added warmth through the worn finish on the cabinets." And new recessed lights gave the one-window room the brightness it lacked.

Combining the original kitchen and a small utility room, Peggy organized the large, square space so the cabinet walls worked in sync with the central island. "The island is extremely functional and is also a focal point," she says.

For added interest and to showcase Donna's dish collection, the cabinets incorporate both solid and glass doors. Appliances are placed strategically throughout, maintaining an effective work triangle. The wall opposite the triangle is devoted to service, storing additional dishes, crystal, and other favorite accessories. Two large pantry-type units slide into the service wall.

For a couple whose work takes them to kitchens all over the world, they now have one they proudly share with clients and friends. "We enjoy it as a family, and when we have professional guests," says Donna. "Either way, it's perfect."