I am lucky enough to have a large family kitchen/diner thanks to the small extension that’s been built on our traditional 1930’s semi. It’s the room that sold us the house and the room we spend most of our time in. I get a lot of comments that it has a great feel to it but importantly it works for our family of 4 on a really practical level too. In this article I’ve tried to pick out some of the the reasons why I think it works as a great family kitchen.
1. The family kitchen table
If you have the room, bigger is better. as well as providing plenty of seating for special occasions, it’s also a bit of a statement piece and can accommodate a home-office, 10 bags of shopping, 4 large paintings and 2 small children eating their dinner. For me, it’s invaluable having the kids do homework or other activities with me on hand. Ours is a made-to-order from reclaimed floorboards but with the bench included it still came in under a grand. Worth it.
2. Consider your seating
We chose a bench because you can squeeze lots of people on if you need to and it looks lovely decorated with colourful seat pads. For the kids we went for the adaptable Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs. They’re really tasteful and blend in to any decor. They also last from newborn right through weaning (with attachments) and up until they’re 7 or 8 when they won’t need the extra height anymore. My little one has loved climbing onto his big boy chair by himself since he was about 18 months and adults can sit on them too. It’s really worth thinking about your seating being versatile and easy so you can enjoy some lovely family time together.
3. Thoughtful toy storage
If you have a big family kitchen then it’s practical that you’ll be keeping a lot of kids toys and activities in here as this is where the family will be spending much of their time. Keep a certain amount of toys accessible to the children, and hide the rest away.
I have used IKEA Expedit (Kallax) units to build a storage solution. The baskets at the bottom are filled with things like toy food, puzzles and play-doh. The drawers keep paper, paints, pens, stickers, notepads etc, and one entire drawer for happy meal toys (wtf?). You can always put safety clips on the ones you don’t want your toddler getting into. Then there’s some display shelving for some of the larger toys that aren’t too hideous to have on show. Finally shelving for cookbooks, colouring books and homework etc.
The toys my toddler plays with a lot are sitting on a cute little painted IKEA table and chairs that he sometimes sits at to eat his toast. We also have some large plastic boxes of uglier toys in the base of the dresser. They come out in the morning (if I’m feeling generous) and get put away at bedtime.
4. Everything needs to be washable
This is a kitchen after all. Some people have beautiful handmade rugs and velvet sofas in their kitchen and I just don’t know how they get away with it. Choose seat pads that are machine washable. Mine are from H&M Home and I can chuck the entire thing in the machine. I absolutely love a rug in a kitchen. At the moment we are using one of those road-layout ones from IKEA which does the job. I guess it’s a kind of large washable playmat that looks cute and helps to divides the room up. Choose washable paint. We went for Farrow and Ball’s modern emulsion which has a 5% sheen. We painted our walls a year ago (and they’re white!) and we’ve had no problem wiping away tea-bag splashes and crayon. Curtains as well… machine washable cotton voile from H&M Home and they let lots of lovely light in.
5. Lovely wall displays
The best way to give your family kitchen a lovely feel is by displaying your family photographs, kids artwork and other favourite pieces. I have predominantly used picture ledges (again from IKEA, sorry) to display plants, postcards, mementos, family photos and the kids artwork. Gracie loves it when I say I’m going to frame her artwork, she feels really proud. And because it’s all on ledges you can so easily just chop and change things out. Fridge magnets from all of the places you’ve been are another really easy way to bring that lovely family feel to your room and tell your story at the same time.