Updating a Home’s Gathering Spaces

Updating a Home’s Gathering Spaces

Photo of a remodeled kitchen with white walls/cabinetry, new appliances, and an island with granite countertops and wood details at the base

Host just one dinner party or one Sunday brunch, and the cliché that the kitchen is the heart of the home comes vividly to life. All that time you spent making sure every inch of your dining area was free of dust/pet hair/child paraphernalia, all that effort to fluff every sofa cushion and throw pillow, all the strategy employed in where to seat whom  it all gets thrown to the wind the moment the first guests arrive.

Where does everyone end up? Yep, you guessed it – gathered at any available kitchen seating spacing or leaning against any island or countertop area where they can rest an elbow, backside, or drink. Your guests want to be where you are, and chance are you’re in the kitchen. And as much as I never really want my guests to see “how the sausage is made” when it comes to preparing their meal, I’ve come to enjoy the company and moral support as I pull the madness together into something edible. Or, at least put on a good show. 

Today’s kitchens have a much larger and open footprint from the kitchens of not too long ago to accommodate modern family and entertaining habits, so what does an owner of an older home to bring their late 1990s space up to today’s more crowd-friendly trend? A good start is to contact an experienced interior designer like Lori. Savio.

Savio, the owner of Home, Heart & Soul in Cornelius and an interior designer with a particular skill set in remodeling space for homeowners moving to the “next stage” of their lives, was brought on board by a family who owns a second home in the Langtree area of Mooresville’s Lake Norman waterfront to update their kitchen and adjoining living space. The home was built in a more traditional fashion – a two-story foyer that leads to a comfortable living area, but the kitchen immediately to the left was segregated from that airy space by a not-so-gathering-friendly wall and stretch of bar-height counter that essentially kept anyone in the kitchen hostage from what was going on around the rest of the main floor. 

Before photos of the 1990s kitchen

“The kitchen was closed off,” Savio says, “so we blew out all the walls and took everything back to the drywall. We reconfigured everything.” She’s not kidding. With the services of contractor Jason Silverthorn of SRG Home Solutions, the entire footprint of the kitchen changes, which included moving appliances (which meant a plumbing and electrical undertaking), adding an island, making a bar area where a peninsula-style fireplace once stood and expanding storage overall.


 Photo of an open kitchen with an island with wooden accents at the base and white granite countertop

Savio says that with white kitchens still being the go-to look, she wanted to provide some contrast to soften it. Bringing in warm wood accents was the perfect solution and she employed that beautifully, everywhere from the trim work on the range hood to the detail on the island base to the addition of wood ceiling beams. And to break up what could have been an expanse of more white space at the kitchen backsplash, she used a subway tile with a roughend, exposed edge to give that stretch some depth. She glammed up the kitchen a bit as well, by choosing matte brass hardware for the cabinetry and some gold touches for the island barstools. 

 Photo of a kitchen range with a touch of wood that brings warmth to the heart of the home.

And the upgrades didn’t stop with the kitchen. Savio moved her designing eye to the living area, adding a fireplace with a porcelain patterned surround and wooden mantle to replace the one she pulled from the kitchen, as well as a wall of herringbone shiplap.

 Two photos of the updated living room with a herringbone-patterned wall and textural touches of brass and crystal

“I like the face that this is all very textural,” she says, “from the wood detail and the distressed backsplash in the kitchen to the fireplace surround and herringbone on the shiplap, just all of that.” She says it was important to not only bring the kitchen and living area up to date, but for this space to be welcoming and relaxing – as a home away from home always should be.

“They have a big family, so they wanted a space where everyone can gather and be comfortable,” says Savio. 

Mission accomplished.


Read the original LKN Currents article written by Lori Helms and published October 2023. Photography by Lisa Crates.

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