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Family-functional Kitchen:

Of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen has got to be the busiest. While the kids do their homework at the table, Dad makes dinner and Mom surfs the Web. It's the hub for gathering the family together on holidays--or, simply grabbing a snack on the run. The prime spot for rainy-day games and cups of

   
cocoa also has to be the perfect place to pay bills and spread out an array of hors d'ouevres. And it all has to be no-fuss and clutter-free.

Our busy, fast-paced lives are quickly turning the traditional kitchen into a multi-purpose room. Better Homes & Gardenssenior designer Joseph Boehm cut through the clutter and congestion to create his well-organized, eco-friendly kitchen for the Meredith Corporation's Design Idea Center at K/BIS 2008.

"We identified our kitchen with a small subtitle called 'everyday easy'" says Boehm. "Everyday easy means that it becomes sort of zoned out, so that certain areas of the kitchen can be worked on or...used by one member of the family as another member of the family is using it somplace else."

The Banquette

 At the center of the kitchen is a large, circular banquette with comfy seating for everyone and storage to boot. Cubbies and drawers on either side of the banquette hold wine and miscellaneous items, such as paperwork and board games that are used often at the table. Storing these items near the place they are used ensures both smooth functionality and reduced clutter.

   

When it comes time to serving food, the expensive island countertop provides enough space for an entire buffet. A second, lower tier tucks behind the high countertop, providing a work surface and small entertainment sink that hides the dishes and prep work when guests come over. The additional sink and pullout faucet make clean-up quick and easy.

Design-wise, the banquette sets up soft, natural tones that give the space a warm and earthy feel, reminiscent of a beach house or summer cottage. The green damask upholstery, pebble-beige countertops and dark woods blend the colors of an organic garden, all surrounding a clear glass table that provides a reflective surface that mirrors the surrounding hues and shapes like a pond or a puddle.

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Hidden help

Just like the banquette, the kitchen holds its own little secrets to make cooking, storing, and cleaning just a little bit easier.

A pull on each drawer reveals a functional surprise, with the dishwasher in one drawer, the freezer in another, and allotted spaces for utensils like a pizza cutter and poultry shears. Extra-deep cabinets and drawers are perfect for large appliances and those awkward items that don't seem to fit anywhere else.

   
Small modifications can make a big difference. The slightly raised oven sits at a more comfortable height, reducing back strain and opening up a storage drawer below. Next to the oven is a removable bamboo cutting board set into the countertop. When removed, an opening in the countertop gives access to the bin for non-recyclable trash. Features like these, typically found in professional kitchens, are making their way into homes to help simplify the daily routine.

Large pots and pans fit comfortably in the double-basin sink, and can be washed, rinsed, and dried all at once without leaving water running or filling multiple tubs. The pullout faucet aims water at those hard-to-scrub stains and can be maneuvered to the surrounding countertop.

   
"One of my favorite areas of the kitchen is the cooktop area," says Boehm. "On either side of the cooktop, one side has a unit for hanging utensils, like your balloon whisk and spatulas, and the other side has a component that holds spices, olive oils and vinegars for cooking."

Above the cooktop is the wall-mounted pot filler, an instant and convenient source of water for filling pots and pans.

Enjoying the greenery

Green goes beyond what meets the eye, as many of the products in the kitchen are made from recycled materials. Energy efficient appliances, natural lighting, and an area dedicated to recycling make it easy to stay eco-friendly on a daily basis.

The linoleum flooring blends natural ingredients like wood and cork powder, ground limestone, linseed oil, and resin with jute backing. The result is a stunning, striped floor that's three shades of green: light, dark, and eco-friendly. The colorful, circular-patterned backsplash serves as a decorative centerpiece of the kitchen. The 100 percent recycled glass mural, made mostly from wine and beer bottles, arranges a natural palette of green and brown hues that continue throughout the space.

 
 
   
"Green was a color that was chosen on purpose" says Boehm. "We knew that we wanted to reflect the green aspects of the kitchen, things like the recycled materials that were used in countertops and backsplashes, but we also felt like green was a color of its time. It's fun, it's very fresh, and it's lively."

Energy efficiency was another area Boehm tackled when considering the kitchen's appliances. The induction cooktop uses electromagnetic energy to heat pots and pans while keeping its surface cool, reducing wasted heat. The dishwasher drawer also has an eco option that keeps excess dishwater to a minimum.

Room for more...

Attached to the kitchen are three more rooms to help maintain the clutter and lend a hand to those other household activities.

The pantry area is great for kitchen items that may not be used regularly. Two refrigerator drawers organize non-essential perishables. Large glass jars, magazine holders, and wicker baskets house the cookbooks, dry food items, and linens.

"Our pantry is delineated by the fact that even the cabinetry is a different color" says Boehm. "

   
 
 
It was designed to hold bulk items: pounds of flour and sugar, those other items that you don't use every day. We also have an appliance armoire in there."

While the kitchen continues to serve as the meeting place for most families, the mudroom is storage central. Tall, pullout cabinets hold everything from sporting equipment and garden tools to dog treats and cleaning supplies. A single-basin sink keeps flower cuttings and dirty soccer shoes out of the same sink as the dishes.

A few steps beyond the mudroom is the powder room, a convenient vanity area complete with a vessel sink and water-saving toilet. Its close proximity to the mudroom makes it easy to change out of wet clothes or wash up after working outside--and, as many families know, you can never have too many bathrooms.

 

 

Kitchen Design

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