I understand why people love new homes. First, there’s that new home smell – everything is clean and fresh, no mismatched coats of paint covering every wall and every piece of woodwork. And you don’t have to worry about the health risks of all that paint, especially with small crawling children.
Many people are also drawn to the open floor plans of new homes with large gathering spaces for families to eat or relax and watch TV. This is where my appreciation for new homes begins to wane – and it’s also where I faced our first renovation challenge in the 1920s house we bought in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas. .
Let me explain to you: while I To do like the idea of the kitchen being the center of the house, I don’t want a “big room” that combines several family rooms. For me, part of the charm of century homes is in their formality. Instead of a large open space, you get a formal dining room, a cozy den, a proper living room, an inviting foyer, and perhaps a cozy library.
At the same time, we like to organize parties. Our children are entering the age where they play sports and they will want to organize team meetings with us. We also like to have friends over for dinner, and soon our children will be inviting their friends over for a hangout or for special celebrations. We’ve noticed that at most parties, people tend to congregate in the kitchen, no matter how many trays of snacks you spread around the house.
So, without knocking down the walls to make it one huge room, how do we transform the small, dated kitchen in our house into a space where we could gather, both as a family and for entertaining?
To find the space, we had to think outside the box. When we first purchased this home, the master bedroom and bathroom were on the first floor, and four bedrooms were on the second floor. This layout worked for our family, but I had to admit that our downstairs bedroom was a prime location for the kitchen and had just the space we needed.
First it was a huge room. Although we appreciated all the space, we didn’t really need such a big room. Second, the weather is nice in the late afternoon, just when we are cooking dinner. And finally, there was a perfect spot just behind the bedroom for a functional back patio, where we can dine with the family outside or open the doors for entertaining.
With the help of our architect, we came up with a solution: transform the master bedroom on the ground floor into our new kitchen and add a bedroom on the second floor. We decided to keep the original kitchen as a functional pantry. With five small children, we’re always doing some sort of baking or art project, so it’ll be nice to have a second workspace – complete with an oven – that we can keep hidden behind doors.
With the bedroom as a kitchen, we solved our modern space challenge. But there was one piece of the puzzle: how to spend time together in the kitchen without sacrificing the formal, comfortable spaces of old homes.
Enter the “guard room”. Often found in historic homes, guard rooms gained popularity in the 18and century when all the cooking took place in the kitchen fireplace. With no central heating, people gathered in the guard room – still adjacent to the kitchen – to keep warm and away from the cook.
Just like then, life today can be stressful. Raising a family and running a business is rewarding, but it’s also intense. My husband and I spend a lot of our time in the kitchen. This is where we meet each morning to prepare for the day. It’s also where we end most of our evenings, cleaning up and talking about our days.
For our family, a daycare room seemed like the perfect solution, and we were lucky to have a space right next to the kitchen where we could set up in a cozy nook with a fireplace. I see this room as a haven for my husband and I, a space where we can sit together, relax and discuss our day. With our modern lives, this is definitely a piece that epitomizes “traditional with a twist”.