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

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By Michele Koh Morollo
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.

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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. 

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.

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

Cherner Counter Stool
Cherner Counter Stool
The molded plywood stools by Norman Cherner are still regarded as one of the most dramatic designs utilizing the technology of molding plywood.
Menu Afteroom Counter Stool
Menu Afteroom Counter Stool
In 2013 we introduced the first Menu chair ever. A beautiful and simple, four-legged one, designed by Stockholm-based Afteroom.
Space Stool High from Mater
Space Stool High from Mater
The Mater High Stool is designed by the Danish architect duo Space Copenhagen and regarded as a "New Danish Classic". The high stool can be used in multiple settings and for everyday use. It is crafted in various materials with sustainable and socially responsible methods.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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. 

Bulthaup kitchen tool cabinet.

Bulthaup kitchen tool cabinet.

Shop Kitchen Storage

Modular Magnetic Walnut Spice Rack
Modular Magnetic Walnut Spice Rack
Build your own spice shelf. Build the spice shelf of your cumin's dreams—La Boîte, the spice experts, aficionados, and masters—have devised a genius system for storage (and display!). Walnut cubes perfectly fit La Boite's spice jars and, get this, magnetize to each other.
Steel & Wood Magnetic Refrigerator Rack
Steel & Wood Magnetic Refrigerator Rack
See ya, junk drawer.  This Japanese-designed magnetic rack sticks right to the side of your fridge (or screws into any wall) to make a pretty resting spot for all of those odds and ends that would otherwise be languishing in the dreaded junk drawer.
Menu Stick System
Menu Stick System
Wooden sticks and joints of steel are the components that transform the versatile Stick System into a shelving system, a clothing rack and a worktable; interior elements of strong constructions that are easily assembled and offer multi-functional solutions for residential use.

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. 

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

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. 

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
Brass Oil Decanter
Brass Oil Decanter
A smooth pour. At first glance, the spout and body of this hand-tarnished, solid brass decanter seem to be completely detached from one another. But begin to pour (keep your finger on its top), and it’s like the oil moves magically from the body and smoothly out of the sleek, gooseneck spout.
Mosser Glass Blown Glass Cake Stand Dome
Mosser Glass 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.
RE.BIN Modern Recycling Bin Set
RE.BIN 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...
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.
Denim Cross-Back Apron
Denim Cross-Back Apron
Durable, lightweight dark denim apron with crossed back-straps. Two patch pockets and a loop for holding dishcloth or other kitchen tools. Inspired by vintage Dutch aprons.
Marble and Metal Canister
Marble and Metal Canister
Hold everything.  We don’t know about you, but our kitchens feel infinitely more organized and user-friendly when cooking and serving utensils are displayed in canisters for maximum reachability.
Farm Candy Chef's Choice Artisanal Set of Seven Salts
Farm Candy 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.
Artek Siena Oven Mitt
Artek Siena Oven Mitt
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.
Muro Magnet Board
from blomus
Muro Magnet Board from blomus
A part of the Muro Collection. The design and utility of the Muro Magnet Board will instantly upgrade your modern home. Ideal for home or office organization, these boards are available in six different sizes and can be hung vertically or horizontally to accommodate your needs.
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.
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.