Design Confidently, Live Comfortably

A true "family room" emerges from a practical budget and a taste for simplicity

by Maria LaPiana

A first home, to many, is nothing more than a way station. A test print. A toe-dip into the ocean of investing. To architect Sophie Piesse, however, her first home is nearly perfect. And her kitchen, a thoughtfully designed "family room,"” is the heart of the home they built on a tight lot and an even tighter budget.

It is a purposeful place that meets every requirement she has ever had for a kitchen: It's practical and pleasing but not showy. Open, contemporary, environmentally friendly. And just large enough for cooking, eating, and entertaining.

Walk through the full-light front door (see "A Door for Privacy and Light") and you're in the hub of the passive-solar house Sophie shares with her husband, Robert Joyner, and their 2-year-old son, Marcus. At 260 square feet, the kitchen/dining area feels more spacious than it is. Two banks of wide, south-facing windows along the front wall offer views of the street and a small park.

"We live here because we like the neighborhood," says Sophie. "And we live here," she adds, with a nod toward the kitchen, "because we love this space."

NEXT: Function First...Style a Close Second

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