If there’s one thing I’ve figured out designing kitchens over the years, the first thing on everyones mind when it comes to remodeling their space – How is will it function when I entertain? Almost every client wants a space for guests to pull up a stool, a space to spread out a buffet, a place for guests to gather for drinks, and as well as a separate dining space. For any space, this kind of flexibility is a tall order but the secret is making sure that every piece you put into the space is nimble and can transform with the space as life requires it.
This is my specialty… Not only because I think your space should work for your life, no matter what you’ve got going on, but personally I think a room should be able to be re-arranged every once and a while to mix things up! I love a big living room ottoman made up of 4 smaller ottomans that become extra seats when you have a full house, or a side table you can slide a pouf under to pullout when you want to kick your feet up and relax. It’s all about flexibility!
So when a past client, who had removed a wall and expanded her kitchen into the next room, was struggling with what to do with the remaining space left over called me up I was thrilled to help!
First we met and discussed how to best use the space. From working with her on the kitchen project last year I knew entertaining was important. It was why we opened up the wall and added a bar height seating area. The goal was a space for friends to gather and visit while she was cooking in the kitchen.
But there we’re a few other things we wanted to get from this space, and when we got to the house it was just after Thanksgiving and they had a table set up in the space to accommodate the whole family. She mentioned how convenient it had been to have the space for that. When I asked how she wanted to use the space everyday however she wanted somewhere for her to curl up and read a book or maybe even take a nap. Oh and there needed to be storage, because who doesn’t need more of that? (You can never have enough!)
It was a tall order but something I felt we could do if we used the right pieces. We decided to anchor the space with a large window seat that ran the entire length of the wall opposite the kitchen. To give the space the ability to be both a casual seating area AND a dining space when needed we used a leather upholstered bench as our coffee table, that could then be pulled back and be used as a dining bench to seat 6-10 guests around a table. Slipper chairs made the perfect seats for daily lounging and small gatherings, and are super light and easily moved into the living room for extra seating or when a table is set up.
For the window seat we had a few challenges. Namely a baseboard radiator running the entire length of the wall. We wanted to conceal it visually but not hinder it’s function. Thankfully our client wanted a deep bench you could lie down on, and liked the furniture style look of legs both of which made things a lot easier.
The biggest mistake people tend to make when enclosing a radiator is putting a thick bottom rail at the base and focusing the “grate” to allow for airflow in the center or the top. While this does allow hot air to get out, it will also decrease the efficiency of your radiator. They work by allowing air to flow in from the bottom and allowing the heat to rise up through the top vents.
We worked around this without the expensive toe kick heater conversion by giving our window seat a 3″ leg and allowing the storage cubbies to “float” in front of the radiator. For baskets I used raffia baskets which would allow for airflow and pick up on the chairs in the dining room.
I wanted to add one more element of airflow and coziness, so I had Chris cut channels into the seat of the bench for the heat to rise up through and warm your cushions!
The coffee table choice was also key, it had to be long and narrow to still allow the room to act as a passage between the living and dining spaces, function as a bench, and be comfortable for kicking your feet up. To solve the issue of drinks we added a large metal tray which would create a nice solid surface.
We created three custom linen cushions and a roman shade to finish out the space. We are both so happy with the end result and our client is too, which is really the best reward! Working with a repeat customer is so rewarding because you can jump right in with a full sense of their style.
It was really fun to do a small space. The goal was to make it blend seamlessly with the rest of the home and I feel like we accomplished that well.
With tomorrow’s holiday, I’m hoping their family is enjoying their new space. I know it can be the right space no matter what they end up needing – Like a Swiss Army Knife, this space can handle just about any situation!