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Style: The heart of the home

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

We may travel to the far corners of the globe on adventures ... or put in long days at work ... but most of our real living is done within a few square feet in our own homes. This special spot is both our launching pad and our safe harbor. It’s where we turn up the music and dance while tossing together Tuesday night dinner. Relax over a well-deserved glass of wine with our best friends. Get lost in a good book or binge watch our favorite series. For most of us, the heart of our home is our kitchen and family room.

That’s true for my friends Lisa and Jon and their three girls. This is a busy family. Jon is the CEO of a global advertising agency. The girls are engaged in school and activities. And Lisa, a retired advertising art director, is involved in the community and keeping everyone’s life zipping along. When the family is home, this is where they gather, to catch up, share a meal or chill out.

When Lisa and Jon renovated their house a few years back, Lisa wanted it to be family-friendly. So making the kitchen into an inviting space was a top priority. Layer by layer, she added to its warmth with unique design choices like the reclaimed wood floor tiles and the expansive wood kitchen island. Little touches add to the charm, like the glowing accent lamp next to the kitchen sink.

After school, this is where the girls dump their backpacks and jackets, grab a snack, pull out their laptops and do homework. The comfortable bar stools have just been recovered, yet again, thanks to the constant use they get.

Lisa has tweaked the space through the years, but she has stayed true to the heart of her style. I love that. One of the huge benefits of decorating with timeless classics is your home never goes out of style.

Remodeling can be a huge pain. But one of the big payoffs is the opportunity to rethink your spaces, then design them to support how you really live. For Lisa, the queen of amazing treasures, that meant having plenty of built-in stages, like a shelf above her stove, to display the lovely pieces she collects. Be still my heart!

While Lisa’s kitchen and family room are distinct spaces with their own personality and purposes, they flow together so seamlessly that they feel like one. The built-in bookcases in the dining area, which links the kitchen to the family room, help transition from one space to the next.

Of all the rooms in the house, the family room is Lisa’s bliss.

You’ll find her here working, with the family’s two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Penny and Theo, curled up next to her. As a pet mom myself, I love that Lisa isn’t uptight about her dogs sharing the family’s spaces.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at