May 5, 2017

Designing Your Kitchen to Entertain

The open concept kitchen wasn’t always the gold standard. In the past, small galley kitchens kept hosts separated from their guests by walls and long hallways that kept the kitchen tucked neatly out of sight. But today, a large, open kitchen tops the list of features house hunters want most their home—a trend that continues to grow and evolve.

We’re glad to see that this design is here to stay. Large kitchens that are integrated into other living spaces let hosts enjoy more time with their guests and offer an intimate, home-like experience for visiting friends and family.

But even when there’s plenty of space, not every kitchen is optimized to accommodate crowds. The solution? Using a few smart design principles, you can set up your kitchen to give you plenty of room to work while giving your guests the freedom to move around on their own.

1. Keep it open.

If you have the space, use it to your advantage. Too many walls and partitions will keep you separated from the action. Don’t spend the party in another room from your guests!

(This kitchen opens into the main living space and provides plenty of room for guests to mingle without losing sight of the host. This design keeps the formal dining area separate, but still accessible.)

2. Offer options.

While some guests prefer to stand and mingle, other guests like to find a comfortable spot to rest and stay put. Aside from the dining table, offer a variety of options for your guests, including tall counters with space for standing guests to set their glasses, comfortable seating for elderly guests, and a few bar stools for those who want to look in on the kitchen and interact with hosts while dinner is being prepared.

(This Mediterranean-inspired kitchen, directly accessible to the formal dining area and main living room, divides the space without closing it off. Guests have plenty of seating options—they may sit on one of the stools, lounge on the couch in the living room, or stand and mingle at the bar to the left of the kitchen.)

3. Design for optimal traffic flow.

Managing the flow of traffic is important when accommodating large groups of guests. Designated work stations can help keep people from clustering in busy areas. For instance, keep your cleaning station separate and distinct from other areas by keeping sinks and dishwasher(s) to one area of the kitchen, and prep and cooking spaces to another.

(Limited by space, this kitchen was able to keep the prep area distinct by raising the edge on the peninsula so cooks can prepare food without disrupting guests sitting at the counter.)

(This kitchen transitions into the formal dining space with an island counter and wet bar. This smart layout allows guests to freely move about the kitchen and living space.)

Think about why guests flow through certain parts of your kitchen. For instance, are they looking to refill a drink? Consider adding a beverage station with a wet bar that gives guests easy access to fill and refill their own drinks without having to wriggle past someone carrying a heavy dish.

4. Think about comfort

It’s often the smallest details that make the biggest impact on guests. Were the chairs too hard? Were the lights too bright? Was noise from the kitchen cutting off conversations?
Abundant natural lighting can make a huge difference, as can direct access to the outdoors. Skylights and folding glass doors that transform your kitchen into an indoor/outdoor space will make the room feel lighter and more open. When natural lighting isn’t available, supplement with something that is soft and adjustable.

(This minimalist kitchen features ceramic tile from Design Works supplier Atlas Concorde. The large windows and direct access to the outdoors bring light and airiness to the room, and create a stunning view for guests.)

(This gorgeous Sarasota kitchen boasts big, sunny windows that bring in lots of light, making the space feel even more open. The light cabinets and matte finish help to soften the stone counter, creating an inviting atmosphere for guests.)

Also consider soft-close drawers that will minimize jarring noises and slamming. Not only will it protect your cabinetry, it will reduce sounds coming from the kitchen, allowing your guests to stay focused on their conversations. Speakers built into the walls also offer a chance to play your favorite music at a comfortable volume, and won’t detract from your décor.

Are you planning a new build or a kitchen remodel? Florida Design Works wants to help bring your design dreams to life. We offer our own locally constructed, fully customizable cabinetry and carry several nationally recognized brands including Wood-mode, Elmwood and Woodharbor. Contact one of our Florida locations to speak with a designer and get started here.

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