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Family activity centers in 'extended kitchen'

These days they call it "the extended kitchen," because old space boundaries are gone and cooking areas spill right out into dining and work and play areas. One colorful and complete version of an extended kitchen is in the home of Robert and Claudia Fischel, in Carmichael, Calif., near Sacramento. It combines family room, eating bar, and kitchen, and there is a desk area at the far end of the long counter.

Since the Fischels have a teen-age daughter and son, they specified this type of room when they commissioned architect Carter Sparks to design their new family home, which overhangs the American River and commands some spectacular views from its window walls and decks.

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This spacious kitchen-family room opens out to decks on two sides, and the outdoor views can be enjoyed by the cooks in the family, as well as by those doing the relaxing and the eating. It is a togetherness kind of room, where communication is easy and family activities are centered. Furnishings include two simple armless sofas, with big square bolsters, that are covered with a sharp peacock blue vinyl leather and can be used occasionally as extra sleeping space for guests.

These sofas, like the Mexican quarry tile floor, are designed for easy care, needing only to be wiped with a damp cloth. There is a large television set and a small square snacking and game table in one corner, surrounded by four chairs. The teen-agers use it for homework, too. A large square coffee table and shag rug under it help complete the furnishings.

There is a dining room in the house, as well, but the family admits it is used only "on state occasions." This type of extended kitchen completely suits the family's informal life style and provides several alternatives for places to dine.

The wood kitchen cabinets are finished with a white epoxy-type paint that gives them a hard, durable surface. The ceiling and beams are stained fir wood. The interior living room, atrium entrance, and hallway of the house are all paneled in mahogany, and the exterior of the house is redwood plywood.

The Fischels carried out a similar simple and modern decorating theme in their paneled living room, with its massive fireplace made of native stones from the bed of the American River. The color scheme is all earth tones, with light beige carpet. The two built-in sofas are complemented by a low square coffee table and two low swivel tub chairs.

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