Ohio Family's Kitchen Caters to Kids
The Wherley family of seven used to live in a 120-year-old farm-house. They loved the charm of its cozy kitchen, but missed the large prep areas, ample storage space and user-friendly appliance arrangement found in most modern kitchens.
So when Carla and her husband, Andy (at left), built their home in New Philadelphia, Ohio, they wanted their new kitchen to combine the old-fashioned warmth of their farmhouse with many of today's modern conveniences. And because they have five young children, it was important the kitchen be kid-friendly, too.
"The kitchen is the heart of our home and it's always jumping," Carla writes. The couple's three older children—Jordan, Tanner and Madeline—love to cook, and all of the kids, including twins Drew and Gabe, enjoy seeing what Mom is up to in the kitchen.
There are two eating areas in the family's spacious 12- x 27-foot kitchen. When Andy comes home from his job as an ophthalmologist, the family enjoys meals around the large dinner table in an eating nook that juts out 9 more feet.
They also have a peninsula bar with three stools where the children can munch after-school snacks while they do homework or crafts. "If they're busy working on a project, they don't have to put everything away when it's time to set the dinner table," Carla explains. And the bar stools are the right height, so they can be moved to the nearby center island when the kids help make cookies.
"The island is so handy for cooking and baking," Carla adds. It's close to the sink when washing vegetables and fruits for meals, just a few steps away from the oven when baking goodies and within arm's reach of the dishwasher when it's time to clean up.
Savvy Storage Space
"Since I enjoy baking and entertaining, we included a butler's pantry in our kitchen design," she notes. "That's where I store all of my baking items, including my bread maker, cookie cutters and cake decorating items. That's also where I keep serving trays, my large coffee maker and all of the other items for bigger get-togethers.
"But the very best thing about the butler's pantry is that I can gate it off to create a play area for the twins while I'm making dinner," Carla says. "They love being close to the action and have a great time playing in there."
Separate from the butler's pantry, there is a good-sized pantry in the tall cabinets to the right of the fridge. That's where Carla keeps canned goods, baking staples and other ingredients. "During a party, it's a great place to stash extra cookies or hors d'oeuvres until I need to replenish trays…or even to hide dirty pots if I'm in a hurry," she says.
With its glass-front cabinets and open plate rack, the built-in china cabinet to the left of the stove is perfect for showcasing her grandmother's dishes and her pottery collection.
"The large deep drawers and pull-out shelves in our lower cabinets are especially handy for our kids," says Carla. "The children can easily reach their plates, bowls and cups when it's time to set the table, and they're able to empty almost the entire dishwasher.
"We also have a corner cabinet filled with puzzles and coloring books, so the kids can help themselves while I'm baking," she adds.
To keep cookbooks at her fingertips, Carla stores them on the open shelves at one end of the island. Her recipe cards, on the other hand, have a home near the oven in a drawer that's just the right size.
Practical and Pretty
"Please don't let the cleanliness of our kitchen fool you, though," Carla writes. "Along with being 'kid-convenient', it's often quite 'kid-crazy,' 'kid-cluttery' and 'kid-crumby'!"
Fortunately, when she and Andy planned their decorating scheme, they selected family-friendly materials. For example, their Corian solid-surface countertops are a snap to clean. "Play-Doh and cookie dough can simply be scraped off while food and crayon marks are easily wiped off," Carla notes.
To help capture the feel of a farm kitchen, they used lots of wood, including beams on the ceiling and a hardwood floor. "We picked hickory for the floor because it's very durable, easy to wash and hides dirt well," she explains.
For the cabinetry, they chose birch that was painted a creamy white and then given an antique finish. The center island is topped with hickory to match the floor.
"I'm a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, and I love color, so I couldn't resist painting the walls of our kitchen red," Carla relates. "The color contrasts nicely with the cream cabinets and countertops, and it looks so festive when I decorate for Christmas, Valentine's Day or the Fourth of July.
"There are many things I appreciate about our kitchen, but most of all I appreciate the love that fills it!"