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.

Before: Dark Family Room

Family Room Before

This looks more like a playroom than a family room.

Before: Dark, Dated Den

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.

After: Let the Sun Shine!

Family Room

After: A Light-Filled Family Room

Look at what a little light can do. If you can't create more windows, opt for light paint colors and furnishings.

After: Let the Sun Shine!
I had to start from scratch in this room, so I pulled out the existing bar, ripped up the dingy floor and took down the wood and stucco from the ceiling. I then painted the whole space in a light cream except for one feature wall which I painted a darker moss hue. I also installed a floor comprised of large format, butter-cream colored porcelain tiles.

The most dramatic change happened when I tore out the room’s small window and replaced it with a wall of windows and large patio doors. The new arrangement not only allows light to flood into the room, it also gives Franca and Pat some much-needed access to their beautiful backyard and its barbecue.

I then divided up the room into two zones: a satellite kitchen and a lounge area. I filled the kitchen with cream-colored cabinets, light quartz counters and a stainless-steel, subway-tiled backsplash. I put in new top-of-the-line, stainless-steel appliances, including a refrigerator, a warming drawer and an under-mount trough sink. I also set up a large, wooden table with a rustic feel that seats eight.

The lounge area focuses on a new fireplace. The old room had two outdated fireplaces, so I got rid of one and updated the other with a gas-log insert and a wood surround. I then put a new television above the fireplace and added some shelving beside it. In this area, I also created a spacious seating area which includes a huge, quartz-covered coffee table, a creamy L-shaped sectional, a few caramel-colored chairs and four moss-green leather ottomans that can be stored under the table.

To help lighten up the space, I installed recessed lighting around the room. Then, for extra sparkle, I put up a mother-of-pearl pendant light over the table and matching sconces above the fireplace.

After a few final touches, this new gastro-lounge and entertainment center was complete. By blending streamlined finishes, natural colors and windows galore, this once dated room got a hearty serving of style and is now ready for family, food and feasting. Now that’s divine!

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