Gather 'Round: The Family Focused Kitchen

An Internet connection, concrete counters and storage down the hall make Rick Glickman's kitchen design perfect for a friendly family.

Designing a kitchen to suit an active family isn't that much different than designing for restaurants, says Rick Glickman, owner of Dream Kitchens Inc. in Chicago. "I've designed residential kitchens since 1992, but for a dozen years before that I was in food service design," he says. "There, the client would have a menu in mind and would tell me, 'Make the kitchen so it can produce this.' Now, I ask homeowners, 'What do you want to produce in this kitchen? Do you entertain? What do you cook? Or do you just phone in?' That's what I plan the space around."

Glickman works with a team approach, doing the space design himself and having associates follow up with interior design to "make it look great." Here, he shares tips for a family-friendly kitchen design:

The biggest challenge: "This house is in a wooded area and it's very open -- full-height windows all around," says Glickman. "The kitchen had only two walls, with windows, so everything had to go on an interior wall and the whole design needed to look natural."

Strategies to suit the family: "These clients wanted a kitchen mainly just to enjoy being together as a family and hanging out," he says. "That's one of the reasons that the main focus is on food prep and a place to sit -- the fridge and the wine fridge are down the hall and out of the way.

"We also added contemporary appliances and a faucet over the cooktop so the kids can help cook and clean up, and opened a wall so that when you're sitting in the kitchen you can see the relaxing fireplace in the family room."

A combination of dark cherry and maple cabinets adorn the kitchen."The cherry matched the rustic beams in the rest of the house, while the maple went with the cherry and made it brighter," says Glickman. "The two tones blend with the rest of the house without being exactly the same."

On the left side of the kitchen, Glickman employed the dark cherry inside an open cabinet. "It's eye-appealing but it's also hiding the ductwork," he says.

Glickman also opted for wood floors. "There are plenty of other nice options," he says, "but wood floors were present throughout the house and I had to make sure this floor went with them."

A clue about concrete: Glickman used a concrete counter for the space he knew the family would congregate around daily. "Not that concrete's necessarily more durable, but it is meant to be used," he says. "After it's been around for a while, it gets little nicks and becomes patinaed to the house. It looks better after heavy use."

Glickman featured an Internet connection in his family-focused kitchen and he recommends it for most anybody. "You can use it to look up a recipe, check homework while you're cooking, send e-mail," he says. "I particularly like the Beyond iCEBOX, which is a countertop computer, television, DVD, Internet radio and so forth all in one, designed specifically for kitchens."

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