A showcase of design that blends elements of rustic material with modern cabinetry, this kitchen holds court in this family compound near Jackson, Wyoming

Never underestimate the power of the kitchen. It is the central gathering space in most contemporary houses. With our culture’s casual style of congregating around food, family, friends and fun, the kitchen can define the entire flow of a home.

Following the current proclivity toward the open concept kitchen that conjoins dining and living areas, it is much more than a place to prepare meals. Architecturally it often determines the overall floor plan. It acts much like a town square as a place to gather and then move to different areas of the house. It also acts as a logical divider between public areas for entertaining and private spaces such as the master suite and bedrooms.

Left: This galley-style kitchen maximizes functionality in a small space without minimizing style. Right: The forged iron hood in this Wyoming home sets an Old-World tone for the room.

Regardless of size, whether a galley-style or a grander room, function comes first. The work triangle of sink, stovetop and refrigerator are key to creating a functional space for cooking. Once that trio is determined, the next consideration is how to create multiple surfaces. The options range from basic worktops for food preparation to more lavish options for storage, a caterer’s staging area or multiple islands that serve all purposes. Seating should also be a priority, whether it’s for countertop dining or a kitchen nook for the grandkids.

This home in the Northeast combines farmhouse style with an eclectic collection that culminates in a space that is functional and fun.

Whenever possible, there should be natural light. For smaller spaces that may just be the quintessential kitchen window. Other scenarios allow for architectural statements that connect with outdoor living areas or capture astounding views.

Rustic on the outside, yet contemporary inside, this Rocky Mountain house brings soft color and texture from the window seat into the high-functioning family kitchen.

The kitchen can be a place to make a statement. It’s a place to pull out the stops when it comes to custom design, blending materials, style and color. The kitchen can be playful, soothing and social. It’s worth putting extra thought into how it relates to your lifestyle since it may be the busiest room in the house – the one spot where every person, whether living there or visiting, will ultimately end up.

jlf architects

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