Kitchen Plan – stylish family living space

12/07/2015 02:07:00 pm HELEN STILES 0 Comments

So, following my post last week about how to design an open-plan kitchen-diner, I thought I'd share a few of the ideas and changes planned for my own room. I should add that it functions pretty well as it is (it was the venue for my Christmas drinks party on Friday night, and it served its purpose very well. Thank you to the ladies who joined me and I blame you for the fact that I still feel wrecked on Monday!!) Anyway, moving on, the aim is to create a super stylish family living space – I feel it's nearly there, but there are a few changes that would really elevate it.

To recap, our open-plan kitchen has 3 main zones (kitchen, living and dining areas). I'm pretty comfortable with the living area – these images show that part of the room, with huge painting and lovely cowhide bench and vintage indigo textiles. The huge oil painting adds some life and personality, and the vintage textiles add texture (although I think it could do with some more).

So I thought I'd run through some of the issues we have with creating our stylish family living space, and how I plan to address them. These are all pretty common problems, so hopefully they might give you some ideas!

Problem: Putting your TV on the wall has become pretty popular, and it is eminently practical and watchable. We hung ours in an alcove next the the fire. The problem is, there's nothing worse than a huge black square on a white wall - your eye is drawn to it immediately and it just doesn't look good.
Solution: We overcame this by putting a log store in the alcove, and then papering above it in in Andrew Martin's Lumberjack wallpaper. Whilst this obviously doesn't hide the telly completely, it does distract from it fairly successfully. You could go for some other wallpaper, or just paint the wall a darker shade. I know some designers feel the need to completely hide the TV (in a huge cupboard, bespoke cabinet or even behind a fake mirror or painting) but personally I think that's a bit over-the-top and necessary. We all (well, nearly all) have a TV, and it is a family living space after all. Just try not to make it the main focus of attention.

Problem: Open-plan living spaces can be quite large, and often have hard flooring. You need plenty of softness and texture to add visual interest, but also to improve the acoustics (you don't want an echoing room!)
Solution: Add some natural tones and textures to up the visual interest (try wicker, wood, cowhide, sheepskin, leather etc). I'm thinking a beige cowhide rug strewn across the existing afghan; a sheepskin rug by the fire and some stone coloured leather – to link in with our large painting. I'll also add some more cushions and textiles. I don't like anything too girly, but I have a kilim cushions and will add some more vintage mud-cloth and indigo cushions too – graphic and textural.

Problem: The main colours in the room are red, white and blue – which is simple, but pretty obvious and boring. The starting point for the colour scheme was definitely the rich red and navy Afghan rug. We have off-white walls (Little-Greene Paint, Slaked Lime Mid for you paint nerds – it's quite warm without having any yellow in it). Normally I gravitate towards much stronger colours for walls, but this particular room gets a lot of light, so can take it. Plus, because there are lots of strange angles, a structural pillar and different ceiling heights, we really wanted to paint everything out in a single colour to minimise distraction.
Solution: If you have 1 or 2 strong colours in your room, it pays to add some complexity with a slightly less obvious contrast. You can do this with colour (maybe add a dash of olive green to go strong blue, or baby pink with Teal for example) and also with texture (as above). I plan to add some black to the colour scheme. I love a navy sofa with a black and white throw, or see this picture below where navy, red, wood and black create a rich, sophisticated colour scheme. It's not entirely my style, but I love the colour combo and could really see that working in a stylish family room. (Said sat here in my favourite Hush black and navy sweatshirt!) And finally some gold accents will warm up the colour scheme - perhaps in brass pendants over the island and a few accessories elsewhere.

Problem: With pale grey, handleless kitchen units, there's little colour or pattern in this part of the room. I think a kitchen where all the cupboards match is a bit dated – (the equivalent of a matching sofa and armchairs in the living room!?) Our kitchen area is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door – straight ahead of you – so I really want to make it a little more stylish.
Solution: Firstly, I will be adding textiles and art. I plan to prop up some more paintings on the worktop; make a new roman blind for the window – perhaps from black mud-cloth, or maybe some vintage indigo. A strong colour anyway! Second, I would love to mix up the units by painting or covering the wall units in a different finish. I'm torn between a) a black chalkboard finish and b) brass – like in this fabulous kitchen by Ilse Crawford. Just need to persuade my other half it's possible!

Finally I think the floor needs some love. I'd love to add patterned cement tiles, but they're way too expensive to go back and fit now. So perhaps a boucherioute runner would work (they are machine washable, so perfect for a stylish family kitchen).

Problem: uncomfortable table and chairs. We have a large oak, rectangular table with 3 matching chairs (We did have a bench too - but that got switched out a while ago – too many children fell off it, and no one wanted to actually sit on it!)
Solution: I'd love to build in a banquette seat along the back wall. Banquettes are perfect for stylish family rooms. They're comfortable and space-efficient, and help absorb noise, improving the acoustics. It will also mean we can push the table up against the wall, making more room near the doors out onto the garden. I love this image of a banquette with metro tiles, and long horizontal mirror (from Filter Dining Room, Philadelphia).

Problem: the main source of lighting is spotlights, which makes it pretty cold and unwelcoming in the evenings. We didn't think out the lighting enough when we extended the kitchen (I was 9 months pregnant at the time and desperate the finish the building work before my son arrived!) All rooms, and especially multi-functional rooms like kitchen-dining-living rooms, need several different light sources.
Solution: We definitely need to add some lamps (I'm thinking a tall floor lamp in the living area; industrial wall lights over the dining table, a table lamp on the worktop in the kitchen and new brass shades on the pendants over the island.

So, here are a few of the items I'm looking to use. Most are from the Hide & Seek store (of course!)

1. Vintage mud cloth cushion, taupe / 2. Chunky knit Beni throw / 3. Vintage Indigo throw / 4. Graphic mud cloth cushion / 5. Tan leather kindling bucket / 6. Beige cowhide rug / 7. Indigo fabric / 8. Stone leather / 9. Boucherouite runner from a selection at Hide & Seek 

So, that little list should keep me busy for a few weeks! Do any of these issues resonate? What is keeping your family living space from being super-stylish? Or perhaps you're happy already. The problem with being interiors-obsessed is I never actually finish anything because I keep going back and tweaking! Oh well...