Remodeling with Your Family in Mind

Let’s get one thing straight: Modern kitchens in no way resemble June Cleaver’s.

“Times have changed. Rules have changed, and the way we interact with our family has changed,” says Ginger Lamm, project designer at Macktown Construction Group, 9957 N. Alpine Road in Machesney Park, Ill.

These days, the kitchen is the hub of everyday life. It’s where the kids do homework, the family eats meals, and everything in between gets dumped. It’s also a gathering space when company visits.

“Families want to have space in the kitchen. Who wants to be stuck in a kitchen behind four walls when all of the guests are in the other room having fun?” says Lamm. “You have to think about how your space is functioning for your family.”

While clients love to dream about finishes and colors, designers like Lamm don’t usually start with these fun details. Rather, they’re thinking about an old design school mantra: form follows function. Some well-placed questions help them to understand how each family uses their kitchen.

If digging around in base cabinets is a problem, rollout shelves and deep drawers can help. If storage is an issue, drawer accessories or specialty cabinets may help to hide utensils, linens or other accessories. If the kids are around, a seating area or a specially designated drawer may help to keep them occupied.

Helpful accessories like an appliance garage, a towel holder, or a lift-up mixer cabinet may also help to alleviate stress – not only during a party but also during everyday use.

Not every kitchen can accommodate a sizable island, so designers often find themselves removing walls and opening up other parts of the house to compensate. This has the added benefit of helping people to move around comfortably.

“A lot of times we’ll see a home that has two living rooms, so we’ll take one of them to enlarge the kitchen,” says Tony Bonnet, who owns Macktown Construction Group with his wife, Cassandra. “At the same time, we may add onto the house to create a larger kitchen. When it comes to adding space, the open concept design is still pretty popular.” ❚