Kitchen island screens off pots and pans

June 20, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT /Copley News Service

Q: Our kitchen opens directly into the dining area. We like to entertain, but I just hate having all the pots and pans on view when we sit down to dinner. I hate even more having to wash up before guests arrive! We can't really close off the kitchen because there's only one small window in the dining area and it would feel too confined. Any suggestions?

A: I suggest that you lift a handsome idea from kitchen designer Laura Dalzell, who created the soft contemporary kitchen in the photo we show here.

That center island is an add-on, designed to define the difference between the working end of the kitchen and the more elegant dining side. The free-standing unit stands tall in the center of the floor, offering work space in the kitchen and informal eating space on the half-round of granite countertop that circles into the dining room. Built to match the maple cabinets (by Wood-Mode) that dress the rest of the kitchen, the island divider features a combination of woods, including maple and accent trim with a darker, Cordovan finish.


he neatest trick of all is what you can't see here: folding glass shutters mounted on the sides of the arch under the light bridge. When it's time to light the dinner candles, too, the shutters can be unfolded to meet in the middle, neatly foiling the view through to the kitchen sink.

Q: I have a 5-year-old granddaughter, and my daughter-in-law is having a baby boy next month. The children will have to share their bedroom. How do I decorate for a 5-year-old girl and a newborn baby boy? I have twin beds in their bedroom.

A: You can divide to conquer some of the distance between their ages and genders. If floor space allows, for example, a standing screen makes a brilliant line of demarcation between hers and his. Stand it between their beds and decorate one side to match her territory, the other, to blend with his. Use color and pattern to differentiate: two adjoining walls painted rich yellow might be "her" corner. "His" could be in cobalt blue. White woodwork will unite the two in a classic yellow-blue-white scheme. Window treatments should be neutral, say, a simple accordion shade or white-painted shutters. Depending on whose "side" they occur on, you might add a frame of glued-on blue grosgrain ribbons, maybe with tailored bows at the corners.

Just don't lose sight of the practicalities involved here. A 5-year-old doesn't want baby-fied digs. At her age, her needs include play space and sleepover room for friends. On the other hand, a newborn doesn't give much of a burp about style: what he needs are a light-blocking window treatment, a changing table, and perhaps a rocking chair for his grandmother. To gain the necessary space, you may want to store one of the twin beds in favor of a crib while he's growing into "his" side of things.

Q: While shopping for a new floor, we met a retailer at a local salvage yard who says he can get us some really neat recycled wood floor boards. He says they will come from an old school gym that is being razed. We don't know how to feel about this. Do we really want an old floor? Won't there be problems, like a lot of wear damage to repair?

A: Don't think "damage," think "patina." More and more reclaimed wood boards are being pulled out of old buildings - even from the bottoms of rivers and lakes - as more and more home decorators are clamoring for their mellowed, "pre-distressed" good looks.

Old hardwood has unique advantages. For example, you may find boards from old-growth trees or species that are no longer being harvested. Because maple is such a durable wood, your "used" gym floor should have lots of life still left in it.

Best dividend of all, buying salvaged wood is an environmentally savvy decision that will keep the old wood out of some landfill somewhere and in the epicenter of your daily life.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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