A ‘Keeping Room’ for Gathering Near the Kitchen

By Erin Carlyl, Houzz Editorial Staff
View at Houzz.com

Rush chairs: Miramar, Mark D. Sikes for Henredon; sofa: Grant, Kravet; lime green-and-white throw pillow fabric: Thibaut; floral and buffalo-check throw pillow fabrics: Brunschwig & Fils; coffee table: Monroe, Frontgate; wallpaper: Turner in green, Geometric Resource 2 collection, Thibaut

Who lives here: Katie and Mark Higgins, Jack, 11, Lila, 8, and Luna the dog
Location: Dunthorpe, a suburb of Portland, Oregon
Size: 243 square feet (23 square meters)
Designer: Jennifer Leonard of Nifelle Design

This lovely room in a home near Portland, Oregon, is open to the kitchen and overlooks the backyard. The family calls it the keeping room — a Colonial-era term for a space off the kitchen where people could hang out and keep warm near the fireplace, where the cooking was done. These days we may have central heating, but the draw to be near the kitchen remains strong. The homeowners wanted this area transformed into a relaxed space where they could comfortably hang out near the kitchen.

Prior to the makeover, this room was used as a dining space and had gray walls, chrome pendant lights and a large farmhouse table that could seat 12 people (though only nine chairs are shown in this photo). In addition, the Higginses had a formal dining room with a table for 10 — and 22 dining seats was a bit excessive for their entertaining habits. With their living area on the opposite side of the house, the family had no living space near the kitchen. “The kitchen is always the heart of the home, and we just didn’t have anywhere comfy to be in the heart of our home,” says homeowner Katie Higgins.

This was a redecorating project. The makeover included new wallpaper, trim paint, furniture and soft goods. Style inspiration came from the book Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style by Mark D. Sikes, which shows a comfy-looking sofa in a space adjacent to the kitchen island in the author’s home.

The color palette for this space was green and blue. The homeowners love these colors, and since the formal dining room off the kitchen was already decked out in beautiful blue grasscloth wallpaper, they chose green for this room’s theme. They wanted the space to feel “fresh and easy to be in,” says designer Jennifer Leonard. “The fresh lime color works so naturally with everything you’re seeing outside the space.”

Though Leonard typically likes to start a room design with the rug, in this case the rug would be neutral, so she began with the wallpaper selection and built from there, choosing fabrics to go along with it. She found the rush chairs at the High Point Market in North Carolina. “We knew we wanted some sort of caned or rush natural fiber included in the furniture,” she says, because the natural material emphasizes the connection to the outdoors. Leonard’s visit to High Point last spring happened to coincide with the launch of Sikes’ new furniture line with Henredon, and his rush chairs were a perfect fit for the room. “We had to wait quite a while for them,” Leonard says. The designer selected Thibaut fabric for the upholstery.

The sofa was made to order in North Carolina. The fabrics in the room are indoor-outdoor, “so really practical for having children and a dog that use them,” Leonard says. The throw pillows were custom-made locally.

The homeowners found the coffee table online, and Leonard signed off on it. Not only was it attractive, but also its lower shelf could hold baskets for stashing magazines, toys and craft supplies.

The room has been styled with accessories the designer collected. This is her practice when she completes a room, and her clients may purchase and keep what they like.

This photo shows a close-up of the lamps, which are woven into the shape of an urn. “It’s a classic silhouette but more contemporary in its material,” Leonard says.

The two side tables are painted white bamboo, in contrast with the coffee table and Henredon chairs, which are unpainted wood. Mixing details like this helps a room look thoughtfully designed, Leonard says. “Even though we did this all at the same time … it looks like it’s collected over time.”

The rug is a polypropylene-and-wool blend that Leonard says wears well.

Because the clients’ backyard has a lot of privacy, there was no need for window treatments. The bare windows allow the family to take full advantage of the pretty view.

“It is exactly what I was hoping it would be,” Higgins says of the keeping room. “It’s where the kids come home from school and crash with their book bags. It’s where people hang out with me when I’m cooking. It’s where we relax first thing in the morning and drink our coffee.”

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