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Reflect on light sources.
Reflect on light sources. / Getty Images/MoMo Productions

Kitchens aren't what they used to be. The space formerly known as the scullery is quickly becoming the most popular part of the house. “The hierarchy of the home has changed to become more kitchen-centric,” says interior designer Mick De Giulio. “Think of the kitchen not just as a kitchen, but a room to really live in.” Follow these tips from House Beautiful Kitchens contributors De Giulio and Mark Leslie to turn your kitchen into your family’s favorite hangout:

Make it comfy. For a homey feel, display personal photos as artwork. “It can be framed family photos,” Leslie says. “It doesn’t have to be an oil painting by the Masters.” Bring in elements from the living room, such as comfortable upholstered chairs and tabletop lamps for a warmer cozier space.

Make it kid-safe. Even the most beautiful kitchen can withstand kids’ messes if materials have durability, Leslie says. For upholstered seating, stay away from linen. He recommends leather and Naugahyde for a polished but low-maintenance look. Quartz and marble countertops are easy to clean, and laminate cabinetry is the most durable, De Giulio says. “Your best investment is something that you’re planning on keeping for 20 years.”

Make it light. To brighten a dark space or open up a small one, think about natural light. Try hanging a large mirror over your sink for a reflective focal point. Leslie recommends scoping out your local flea market or antique store for inexpensive, quirky finds.

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