As a veteran kitchen designer, Susan was able to break a few of the usual rules. She jettisoned Rule No. 1—when you need more storage, add more boxes—by nixing upper cabinets in favor of open shelves. As for Rule No. 2—put the sink under a window for the dishwasher's sake—she figured no one looks up while loading the machine, so why not give the view and a little natural light to the family's regular guest chef, Art's mother, Julia. To make the look her own, Susan opted for an innovative mix of styles and materials. Traditional painted base cabinets and a solid-surface farmhouse sink keep the kitchen grounded in its past, while a sleek island topped with slate, along with stainless-steel appliances and countertops, help give this working kitchen a loftlike feel. "Not everyone has the right setup for a great-room kitchen," Susan says, "but you can always make the most of the space you've got."