Table for Six
An airy Chanhassen kitchen is the hub of family activity
If you stand outside this lodge-style home on four peaceful acres near Lake Lucy in Chanhassen, you’re likely to hear the quiet hum of crickets, or the three-pronged trill of a red-winged blackbird. But inside, the home’s kitchen pulses with activity. The home’s owners and their four children, ages 8 to 16, spend much of their time in this room. On a typical morning, everyone is on a schedule.
“Four kids, three different bus times, and two different school-start times...” the husband says, explaining how getting everyone up, ready for the day, and out the door is a bit like running air-traffic control. “It’s definitely on the go.” Even the family’s fluffy orange cat struts by with purpose, as if he has somewhere to be.
The family built this home after realizing they’d outgrown their previous one. As the youngest kids grew too big for their highchairs, “There wasn’t even a table where all of us could be,” recalls the wife.
K.C. Chermak, owner of Pillar Homes, helped the family design the airy home with a kitchen that doubles as command central. A stately, two-tiered granite island anchors the room, which opens on to the rest of the main level: living room, dining area, and screened three-season porch. With its unencumbered sightlines to the rest of the house, the island serves as both a perch from which Mom and Dad can gather the flock, and a nest where the whole family comes together for morning and evening meals.
Family time is paramount for this busy brood. “The island is the center of everything,” says the husband. “The kids always do their homework here. And they can ask us questions while we’re cooking.” Even with everyone under one roof, Mom and Dad are finding that their kids are growing up quickly and that time together at home is precious. “You don’t see them enough as it is,” the husband adds.
A Focus on Function
A solid Hickory White round dining table and side chairs sit just beyond the island, but get most use during large gatherings and holidays. The design never included a formal dining room; it was something the family found they rarely needed in their old house. “We used it maybe twice,” says the wife. “It’s just not our lifestyle.”
Instead, they focused on functional pieces that made life easier, like adding an armoire-style double refrigerator/freezer with sleek custom alder profiles to match the cabinets that line one wall of the kitchen. “A friend told us, ‘You’re going to need that big of a fridge,’” says the wife. “And I thought, ‘Really?’ But with four kids and their friends...” The friend was right.
Rustic, Yet Clean
The hand-scraped walnut floors have a rough, distressed texture evocative of an old farmhouse, which matches the deep grain of the cabinets and lends warmth to the home’s open spaces. They are also remarkably good at hiding the pockmarks and scratches inevitable in this high-traffic zone. “In our old house,” recalls the wife, “every time the kids dropped a toy, there would be a new ding on the floor.”
These rustic elements blend seamlessly with the crisp, bright white enameled cabinets surrounding the stove and island, along with a few elegant details. Glass pendant lights with hand-forged bronze stems sparkle above the island. A beverage center that matches the alder cabinets incorporates a flat-screen television, an ice machine, and a wine refrigerator in case Mom and Dad want to enjoy a drink together after the kids are in bed.
The resulting space has a polished but casual feel that makes everyone feel at home. “There’s no formal in my life,” says the wife. “I don’t even want to be called Mrs. It’s just my personality.”
Ellen Guettler is a freelance writer in Minneapolis.
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