If you love entertaining, then there are some key things to consider when designing a suitable space to be as ergonomic as possible for you and your guests. With the kitchen termed the ‘hub of the home’, it’s easy to see why guests gravitate towards this room. An open plan kitchen or a combined kitchen diner with a well thought out structure and design will give you the best possible space to create an entertaining kitchen that functions dynamically – a necessity when entertaining. Whether you already have a large, open plan kitchen or are planning to expand, here are our top tips for designing an area which is geared towards entertaining guests.
When designing an entertaining kitchen it’s important to first consider flow; where will your prep and cooking areas be? Where do you want your guests to be seated in relation to it? Will you be able to access all the areas and appliances you need to with guests in the room? With the trend for open plan space within the home increasing, the kitchen and dining/living room areas are often merged. An island is a great solution in an entertaining kitchen as it creates a social centre in the room. It also keeps guests at a safe distance from the cooking and prepping areas. To further reinforce this, make sure that the food prep area faces the seating area, so that guests are included in the room without encroaching upon your cooking space.
For those that get flustered when cooking, whilst an island keeps guests at arm’s length, it might leave the chef feeling too exposed. If that is the case, a split level island might be a solution; it will provide seating for guests and will mean that the chefs’ activity is not at immediate eye level. Alternatively, a partial screen in the form of column at one end of an island is a nice compromise; it provides a focal point as well as a barrier between chef and guests.
A drinks area is another nice touch for an entertaining kitchen. Placing it to one side of the island away from the cooking and prep areas will keep guests close but not in the way. Alternatively, placing the dining area between the kitchen and drinks area will make the drinks area a practical space to serve both the dining table and kitchen.
Whether a kitchen is used for entertaining or not, it still needs to fulfil a practical purpose, therefore it’s really important to consider cabinetry and furniture early on. Things like worktops have not only got to look good, but they need to perform. Materials such as granite, ceramic and quartz are therefore popular, as they create a luxury finish whilst being highly durable. Regardless of how durable a worktop claims to be, we strongly advise using a chopping board to maintain a luxury finish. Ceramic and quartz are particularly popular in an open plan kitchen as colour can be incorporated, enhancing decor schemes and often acting as a focal point. Colour can also be used to create zones, clearly defining different areas for different purposes. Using furniture in the same way provides the additional benefit of giving the space practical separations as well as visual cues on zones.
In terms of seating, a large table for friends to eat at is common in an entertaining kitchen, where there is enough space. Alternatively an island or breakfast bar can be useful informal seating areas, where guests can sit and socialise whilst dinner is cooked, should your dining area be in the next room.
Making the cooking area the focus of the room often works well for those who entertain frequently, this can be done by incorporating the sink and hob in a central island. It also, as mentioned previously, prevents the chef from having their back to guests whilst cooking, enabling them to be involved in the action going on elsewhere in the space while preparing food.
Also, consider other appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers when designing your entertaining kitchen. Avoid putting them in a high footfall path so that you can get to them easily. With a dishwasher, you might want to place this out of sight of the seating area, so that the mess from cooking and clearing plates is kept away from guests. The placement of one appliance often impacts on the placement of others so before you start designing, decide which appliances are your must haves and work them into the kitchen design logically, so that you can use them efficiently and best placed considering the zones in the room. Your kitchen designer will be able to help you with this.
When it comes to impressing guests, the drinks area is somewhere luxury appliances add real ‘wow’ factor – drinks cupboards, wine coolers, refrigerated drawers, and plenty of glazed storage to show off your glassware are things to consider including in your kitchen.
Whilst a family kitchen often focuses on practicalities, an entertaining kitchen on the other hand focuses more on the aesthetics of the room . While neutral colour palettes and natural materials such as timber help to make the space feel bigger and often work best in an open plan kitchen, using different shades of one or two colours is an effective way to create zones in the room while keeping things harmonious throughout.
Alternatively, if you are more daring, a large open plan kitchen can take bold colours well. A feature wall, or brightly coloured and ornate chandelier for example, are good ways to incorporate bold colours as they can be easily changed if you want to redecorate – it is much easier to repaint a wall than replace a worktop.
Lighting is another important consideration. Adequate task lighting for food preparation is crucial, but also think about incorporating some lowlevel lighting too, to create a relaxing ambience once the hustle and bustle of mealtime is over.
It might seem daunting to design a kitchen geared around having guests in your home as it’s hard to know how different people will react in the same space. Designating set zones using furniture and decor, and paying consideration to how the room will flow with and without guests is crucial as you need to make sure it is functional no matter the occasion. If you would like some guidance with planning your own bespoke entertaining kitchen please get in touch.