How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
Besides being a place for food preparation and cooking, your modern kitchen can be a prime social zone where your friends and family can gather to feast and spend quality time together.

If you frequently entertain guests in your home, or love holding long leisurely dinner parties on the weekends, it’s a good idea to keep these points in mind when designing or remodeling your kitchen. Here are some tips on how to turn this functional area into a space that's fit and fun for gatherings.  

And make sure to scroll to the bottom to shop our favorite kitchen picks.

1. Consider an Open Layout 

When there’s a crowd in your kitchen, it’s important to ensure that people are comfortable and can move around and mingle with ease. Avoid claustrophobic layouts with tight corners or islands that are placed too close to the walls. A doorless, open-plan kitchen is best, as it creates an inviting and spacious atmosphere.

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 1 of 9 - The eye-catching tile backsplash is by Popham Design.

The eye-catching tile backsplash is by Popham Design.

2. Create Circulation and Connectivity 

Think about how you and your guests will interact within and around the kitchen. It's important to ensure that people can effortlessly transition from the kitchen to the living room and dining areas, and vice versa. If you have a patio, garden, balcony, or courtyard, site your kitchen next to (or near) these areas so that dining alfresco can be an option. By designing a kitchen with good circulation and connectivity, you won’t have to worry about it being too cramped, as the crowd will naturally spill over to other areas of your home. 

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 2 of 9 - The resident of this home wanted to be able to use the space as a fun gathering place for parties, so Bestor set a DJ booth at the edge of the kitchen. Custom plywood shelving holds vinyl records.

The resident of this home wanted to be able to use the space as a fun gathering place for parties, so Bestor set a DJ booth at the edge of the kitchen. Custom plywood shelving holds vinyl records.

3. Make Sure Your Kitchen Island Is Multifunctional

As a defining feature in many modern kitchens, the island counter shouldn’t just be a surface for preparing food. When it’s party time, clear out the counter top and bring out some stools so that guests can sit around the island and enjoy their beers and snacks—or even a casual buffet meal.

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 3 of 9 - While the open kitchen and living room space provide ample opportunity for entertaining, perhaps as compelling is the Kovels’ surprisingly private roofdeck. "We love to have parties over here," says Kovel, "and sometimes we go up to the roof." With a privacy screen vexing voyeurs to the west, and no other tall building, save the church spire, nearby, the Kovels and guests have free rein. "We have a hot tub up there," Kovel wryly discloses.

While the open kitchen and living room space provide ample opportunity for entertaining, perhaps as compelling is the Kovels’ surprisingly private roofdeck. "We love to have parties over here," says Kovel, "and sometimes we go up to the roof." With a privacy screen vexing voyeurs to the west, and no other tall building, save the church spire, nearby, the Kovels and guests have free rein. "We have a hot tub up there," Kovel wryly discloses.

Shop Stools For Your Kitchen Island

Afteroom Counter Stool
Afteroom Counter Stool
In 2013 we introduced the first Menu chair ever. A beautiful and simple, four-legged one, designed by Stockholm-based Afteroom. The chair proved to be one of our most popular designs from the Spring 2013 collection, so for Fall 2014 we’re adding another chair to the line up: The Afteroom Counter Stool. The same innovative and clean design as the Afteroom Chair – but with longer legs. The tall Afteroom Counter Stool is perfect as an extra chair in the kitchen, as the beautiful front row of a bar area, or as the new and striking chairs in the office waiting room. The chairs are both light, comfortable and durable. Hung-Ming Chen and Chen-Yen Wei get their inspiration from an interest in forms, senses, proportions, materials, and cultures. With a clear and non-compromising aesthetic vision, they take the meaning of simplistic design to a whole new level. “The Afteroom Chair and Afteroom Counter Stool are a homage to Bauhaus and functionalism. The simplicity of its design combined with the quality of materials is what’s important. We embraced the challenge of designing something minimalistic with clean lines, without in any way compromising its comfort. In that sense we’ve ended up with classic Scandinavian features".
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Sponsored by Menu

4. Add a Wet Bar 

The merry making isn't complete without refreshments, whether it's cocktails for the adults or homemade lemonade for the little ones. So, consider including a wet bar where guests can linger and chat. Because most wet bars are equipped with storage for glassware as well as a sink, you can wash glasses quicker, which will shorten the waiting time for beverages. It can also be used as a place to make some post-dinner espressos.

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 4 of 9 - Shown here is the wet bar in Apartment G, designed by Takenouchi Webb.

Shown here is the wet bar in Apartment G, designed by Takenouchi Webb.

Shop For Your Wet Bar

Line Wine Bar
Line Wine Bar
"I have always been inspired by the language of turntables and entertainment units from the 1960s," says Singaporean designer Nathan Yong. Which is a remarkable statement when you learn that Yong grew up in a wooden hut by the sea, where he and his brother made their own toys and "waited for low tides so we could pick up treasures from the shore." Growing up with the beach as entertainment, Yong has developed into a resourceful designer, whose work captivated us with its quiet elegance. At Salone del Mobile, the annual furniture fair in Milan, Yong showed his Line Media Console, inspired by "the fluid streamlined forms of 1960s stereo components." We liked the aesthetic so much that we asked Yong to expand the collection. He responded with one of the best-looking bars we've ever seen. The Line Wine Bar (2010) has two drawers with leather pulls, one open cubby, two storage racks for stemware and two storage racks for a total of 24 bottles, twice the storage as the Line Bar. (The bottle storage racks are removable.) Made in Malaysia. 
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Blackened Steel Bar Cart
Blackened Steel Bar Cart
With a design inspired by vintage industrial steel carts from the flea markets of Paris, this custom-designed bar cart from Brad Sherman, the designer of Food52's offices, is luxuriously oversized—and anything but delicate. The graphic shape is cast from blackened steel, propped up by brass castors that make it easy to scoot around. The perfect height to be used as a sofa table, this bar cart is even better in tandem—we use two, side-by-side, to store all our cocktail fixings in the office. Photography by Mark Weinberg/Food52
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Sponsored by Food52

5. Go Discreet Where You Can

To create a more relaxed "living room" feel, keep your kitchen from looking too much like a place for cooking. Install discreet or streamlined cooktops, ranges, hoods, ovens, or "hidden" kitchen appliances like this built-in refrigerator with wood-finished doors from Sub-Zero.

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 5 of 9 - Integrated built-in refrigeration unit with smart-touch controls from Sub-Zero.

Integrated built-in refrigeration unit with smart-touch controls from Sub-Zero.

6. Install Smart Storage 

Keep your kitchen clean, neat, and clutter-free with smart storage so that pots, pans, small appliances, and utensils are out of sight and out of mind. Bulthaup’s kitchen tool cabinets, which can be shut to hide all your kitchen essentials, help ensure that your kitchen isn't a mess when guests arrive. 

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 6 of 9 - Bulthaup kitchen tool cabinet.

Bulthaup kitchen tool cabinet.

Shop Kitchen Storage

7. Introduce a Cool Backsplash or Bold Lighting 

Interesting pendant lamps and backsplashes with bright colors or bold patterns can add character to your kitchen, transforming it from a utilitarian space to an area for fun. 

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 7 of 9 - This dark and bold kitchen features Beat Pendants by Tom Dixon and a black-and-white tile backsplash by Popham Design.

This dark and bold kitchen features Beat Pendants by Tom Dixon and a black-and-white tile backsplash by Popham Design.

Shop Tom Dixon's Beat Pendants

Beat Light Pendant - Fat by Tom Dixon
Beat Light Pendant - Fat by Tom Dixon
The Tom Dixon Beat Light Black Pendant - Fat is part of a series of lights inspired by the handmade brass cooking pots and water vessels found in India. Made from spun and hand-beaten brass, the interior retains its golden reflective quality while the exterior is painted a contrasting Matte Black.
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Sponsored by Lumens

8. Make Sure it Fits Seamlessly With the Rest of Your Home 

A good entertaining space should have a look that's consistent with the overall design of your home. Use the same (or similar) finishings and colors as the rest of the space. If you want the kitchen to stand out, you can introduce different materials or colors, but make sure they complement the overall interior concept of your home. 

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 8 of 9 - Although it mimics the appearance of rickety mining shanties, the home is airtight. Triple-glazed windows and highly insulated walls contribute to its overall net-zero status.

Although it mimics the appearance of rickety mining shanties, the home is airtight. Triple-glazed windows and highly insulated walls contribute to its overall net-zero status.

How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal For Entertaining—and Shop Our Picks - Photo 9 of 9 - The concrete wall mimics the slope of the hill outside as a reference to early Maori structures that were dug into the land. The simple kitchen has strandboard cabinetry and an MDF island that conceals a fireplace at one end. The ceramic works on the built-in seat at right are by Raewyn Atkinson and Robyn Lewis.

The concrete wall mimics the slope of the hill outside as a reference to early Maori structures that were dug into the land. The simple kitchen has strandboard cabinetry and an MDF island that conceals a fireplace at one end. The ceramic works on the built-in seat at right are by Raewyn Atkinson and Robyn Lewis.

Shop Our Kitchen Picks

Vintage-Style Kitchen Scale with Removable Bowl
Vintage-Style Kitchen Scale with Removable Bowl
Weigh a ton.  Did you play shopkeeper when you were a kid? Us, too. This is the real-deal scale of our childhood dreams, like it dropped out of an old country store where it dutifully weighed out dry goods for discerning customers. The scale weighs up to 8 pounds (with measurements in grams and pounds), with a large dial face for easy-reading.  Made in: China  Made of: Stainless steel Size: 11.6" H x 9.8 W x 9.1" D  Sourced from: Typhoon Homewares Photography by James Ransom.
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Sponsored by Food52
Kaufmann Kitchen Island (Walnut)
Kaufmann Kitchen Island (Walnut)
Our exclusive new line of furniture includes the kitchen island, made to order from solid Black Walnut wood by expert American craftspeople. The two drawers feature dovetail joinery and bronze handles for a modern finish. (more info)
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Sponsored by AHA
Hamdan 4-Light Kitchen Island Pendant
Hamdan 4-Light Kitchen Island Pendant
Bring a touch of clean-lined, cosmopolitan flair to your ensemble with this eye-catching island pendant, the perfect pick for your well-curated, loft-worthy aesthetic. Hang it above your kitchen island or peninsula to cast a stylish glow over casual brunches and apres-dinner cocktails, then match its four cylindrical glass shades with a cluster of candle hurricanes below. Looking to light up your entertainment space? Suspend this pendant over a marbletop home bar to serve up your signature cocktails to dinner guests, then arrange other chrome-finished luminaries and openwork aluminum tables around the space to round out your upscale and refined living room aesthetic.  
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Sponsored by Wayfair
White & Grey Enamel Kitchen Canisters (Set of 4)
White & Grey Enamel Kitchen Canisters (Set of 4)
Kitchen can-fidential. Durable and versatile enamelware is an endlessly useful addition to even the most well-stocked kitchens: It’s lightweight, stackable, dishwasher-safe, and can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, and on the grill. It also makes a great travel buddy to bring along to potlucks and barbecues.These classic white, grey-trimmed canisters fuse modern and vintage and make nice homes for everything from flour and sugar to beans and grains. The set of 4 comes with 1-quart, 2-quart, 2.5-quart, and 3-quart canisters.Read more on why we love enamelware a whole lot for every little kitchen task.  Made in: China  Made of: Steel, porcelain enamel  Size: 1QT is 4.25" in diameter x 6" H, holds 1 quart; 2QT is 5" in diameter x 7.75" H, holds 2 quarts; 2.5QT is 6" in diameter x 8" H, holds 2.5 quarts; 3QT is 6.75" in diameter x 8.5" H, holds 3 quarts  Sourced from: Crow Canyon Home Photography by Bobbi Lin.
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Sponsored by Food52
The ScandiKitchen Book
The ScandiKitchen Book
This accessible and entertaining introduction to Scandinavian food contains over 80 recipes to try at home, developed by Bronte Aurell, owner of the popular ScandiKitchen Cafe in London’s bustling West End.
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Alpine Modern Shop
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Blown Glass Cake Stand Dome
Blown Glass Cake Stand Dome
You know, I know, we all know—Food52 is mad for Mosser Glass cake stands. The only thing they were missing? A pretty glass dome to top it all off! Each a solid piece of blown glass, the domes are made to fit either the 6” cake stands or the 10” cake stands. They’ll display your latest baking creations with pizazz (plus protect them from “the elements” and keep them fresher, too!). Photography by James Ransom/Food52
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Sponsored by Food52
Modern Recycling Bin Set
Modern Recycling Bin Set
They say two is better than one, right? With two RE.BINs, sorting your recyclables is as easy as it gets! Use your RE.BINs to recycle, sort your laundry, organize your clutter, or create a little extra storage...you decide! RE.BIN is the modern recycling bin that offers an easy way to recycle in style. Made in Vermont USA from 100% recycled plastic, the RE.BIN can be used with a paper grocery bag liner for an easy, clean, sustainable recycling experience.
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Sponsored by AHA
Cutting Board with Storage Frame
Cutting Board with Storage Frame
Cutting board and knife storage all in one. The frame that’s included with the Chops Cutting Board is an all-in-one storage solution that holds two cuttings boards in an upright, space-saving position, between which you can store your knives. Both Cutting boards have embedded magnets to securely attach them to the frame when not in use.  Assembled dimensions: 2” x 10” x 13.5” Cutting board only: 9.75” x 13.5” x 0.75”
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Chef's Choice Artisanal Set of Seven Salts
Chef's Choice Artisanal Set of Seven Salts
A beautiful collection of seven of our top selling salts. Each set includes a 4 oz tin of the following salts. Green Tea Wasabi Toasted Black Sesame Sea Salt; Lavender Herbs de Provence Sel Gris; Lavender Lemon Thyme Merlot Sea Salt; Mango Habanero Pepper Salt; Pink Himalayan Flower Salt; Strawberry Sriracha Sea Salt and Tropical Fruit Chipotle Black Hawaiian Black Sea Salt. This set of 7 signature blends are presented in a stainless steel round spice box with clear top.
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Sponsored by AHA
Siena Oven Mitt from Artek
Siena Oven Mitt from Artek
Artek's Siena Oven Mitt happily displays the 1954 Alvar Aalto 'Siena' print in several bi-color offerings. Features a polyester filling to protect from heat and wear. Intended as a pattern for fabrics, Aalto wanted to see the Siena print used freely for different purposes. And Artek has done just that. The architectural and light Siena pattern was the first introduction in Artek's 2013 'ABC Collection' - a series of small objects intended to naturally complement the Artek furniture collection.
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Sponsored by YLiving
Mediterraneo Paper Towel Holder from Alessi
Mediterraneo Paper Towel Holder from Alessi
The extraordinary success of the "Mediterraneo" Fruit holder by Emma Silvestris in 2006 drove Alessi to explore the potential for expanding this icon into new types of products like this Paper Towel Holder.
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Sponsored by YLiving
Manuel's Coffeemaker N2
Manuel's Coffeemaker N2
When it brews it pours. A pour-over coffee maker that lives on the countertop in a home or office, like a low-tech appliance. Hot water is gradually poured through fresh ground coffee in a filter, and brewed coffee slowly drips into the carafe, or even directly into your mug. Manual — or "pour over" — brewing has become popular in the world of craft coffee, because it gives full control over all of the variables in the brewing process. More control means you have the ability to adjust and perfect your recipe to better highlight the nuanced flavors found in today's high-quality craft coffees. Brewer and carafe made of glass and the base of lacquered bamboo. 
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