Light-Filled Lounge for Intimate Gatherings or Large Family Feasts

This "gastro lounge," which includes a satellite kitchen and plenty of seating, makes entertaining as easy as pie.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThis looks more like a playroom than a family room.
Before: Dark, Dated Den
Franca and Pat come from large Italian families that love to cook and eat. In fact, Pat turned his love of good food into his livelihood and opened a downtown Italian eatery that serves traditional fare cooked up by his mother. But despite feeding hungry diners day after day in their restaurant, the couple rarely entertained at home, a traditional 1960s split-level home they share with three daughters.

While that wouldn’t be a big deal to some, it just didn’t cut it in a family where everyone takes turns hosting dinners and where get-togethers of 25 are the norm. The problem for Franca and Pat was a lack of space. They recently undertook a lengthy home renovation. After bunking with relatives for months, they decided to head home before renovating the one room that was large enough to host big parties: their family room.

The room was dark and dated, complete with a curved wet bar, scallop-edged ceiling beams and dark wood details. So I worked up a healthy appetite for design and food and got set to cook up a big “gastro lounge” for Franca, Pat and all of their relatives.