Post details: A Gathering Place


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A Gathering Place

Cooks, company and kids congregate in this home's great room, where dual hearths radiate warmth.

PlanAn Open Plan

Whether you're entertaining business associates or a high school sports team, it's a safe bet that everybody eventually ends up in the kitchen. That belief was the driving force behind this plan created by home owner and architectural designer Gary Nance in Fishers, Indiana.

The home features an open arrangement -- one large area loosely organized into zones for family living, dining, and cooking. The kitchen is the center, separated from a dining area on one side and a great-room on the other by a pair of pillar-flanked islands. Old-fashioned raised hearths warm each room. "Our goal was to make our home feel like a vacation getaway," Gary says. "We wanted a big, open, casual space where we could all be together without any unnecessary, underutilized rooms.

"The dining room is really a multipurpose room," he says. "It is as much a gathering space as the family room and kitchen are." Furnished with a salvaged-pine, two-tone table and mismatched upholstered chairs, the area is a favorite spot for Gary and his wife, Nancy's, two teenage children to do their homework or gather with friends. Open bookcases flank the fireplace and add homespun flavor. A pair of cozy club chairs near the rear-facing window offers guests comfortable seating and a view of the Nances' tree-lined backyard.

PlanA lower grade of pine was purposely chosen for the great-room floor; its knots and nicks contribute to the casual country flavor. Tennessee river slicks -- moss-covered round stones -- bring an earthy quality to the great-room hearth. New bricks surfacing the dining room fireplace façade and the island snack bar bases were tumbled to look like old pavers. These new "thin" bricks are as beautiful as their thicker counterparts, but, because they weight less, no additional foundation work is required, Gary explains. Even the trowel work isn't perfect; the bricklayers used a special tool to make the mortar appear rough, as it did in homes built a century ago. Whitewashed pine planking, deliberately nailed together in a mismatched fashion, covers walls throughout the main level.

PlanThe kitchen décor is casual and easy-care. Granite countertops, wide-plank pine floors, and custom knotty pine cabinets give the new space a welcoming, timeworn feel. "A pristine look was not our goal," Gary says. "We wanted our new home to look as casual and welcoming as the vacation cottages that were built a century ago. Another nick or two in the cabinets or floor only adds life to the room."

Two pairs of barstools cozy up to the islands, one on the dining-room side and one on the great-room side, enabling guests to chat with cooks. Because the kitchen is in the center, cooks are always part of the party.

Better Homes and Gardens



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