How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal for Entertaining
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How to Design a Kitchen That’s Ideal for Entertaining

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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.

Consider an Open Layout

The eye-catching tile backsplash is by Popham Design.

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.

Create Circulation and Connectivity

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

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.

Make Sure Your Kitchen Island Is Multifunctional

The open kitchen and living room space provide ample opportunity for entertaining.

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.

Shop Our Favorite Kitchen Island Stools
Kartell Masters Bartool
Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet pay homage to three different midcentury-modern masters in one sleek, versatile indoor-outdoor seat.
Cherner Counter Stool
Although a pioneer in prefab housing, Norman Cherner is best known for the molded plywood seating line he created for the manufacturer Plycraft, which he ultimately sued the company over.
Menu Afteroom Stool
Minimalism maximized. The Afteroom Stool by Menu offers a brilliant combination of simplicity, quality construction and uncompromised comfort. With a round seat, a flexible backrest and a convenient footrest ring, it's perfect for casual dining areas or bars.


Add a Wet Bar

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

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.

Shop Our Picks for Your Wet Bar
Picnic Time Complete Home Bar Set
This bar walks into a box...  Some might say you need a pool table, stools aplenty, and 30 different varieties of whiskey to own a bar. We beg to differ: This handsome cherry wood box is everything you’ll need to be your own favorite local hangout.
Nathan Yong Line Wine Bar
"I have always been inspired by the language of turntables and entertainment units from the 1960s," says Singaporean designer Nathan Yong.
Izola 4-in-1 Bar Tool
Raise the bar. Based on a clever vintage barkeeper’s tool, this handsome, compact 4-in-1 set might just find its way into your purse or pocket—it’s that handy. The 2-ounce jigger also doubles as an ice crusher; the handle is a bottle opener that pulls away to reveal a hidden corkscrew.


Go Discreet Where You Can

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

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.

Install Smart Storage

Bulthaup kitchen tool cabinet.

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.

Shop Our Favorite Kitchen Storage
Yamazaki 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.
JK Adams Wall-Mounted Pot Rack With Shelf
How’s it hanging? This rack is giving us room to stretch out once again thanks to its 3-foot-wide shelf and hooks aplenty for pots, pans, and lids (six of ‘em, to be exact).
La Boîte 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.


Introduce Cool Backsplash or Bold Lighting

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

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.

Shop Our Favorite Kitchen Pendant Lighting
Andrew Neyer Chime Light
Keeping the spotlight where it belongs. The aesthetic of the Chime Mini Pendant by Andrew Neyer is purposefully minimal, sporting an earnest cylindrical luminaire that allows light itself to take center stage.
Tom Dixon Beat Pendant, Tall
“The success and desirability of a product is inextricably tied in to the substance that forms it,” says London-based designer Tom Dixon, whose careful consideration of materials led to the warm glow of the Beat Pendant (2006).
Gubi Semi Pendant
The Gubi lighting Semi Pendant is both a funnel and a vortex, channeling strong down light from its flared shade. Designed in 1968 by Bonderup and Thorup, the Semi is a functional light based on geometric principles; the silhouette emerged by placing two quarter circles inversely together.


Make Sure Your Kitchen Fits Seamlessly With the Rest 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.

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.

Related Reading: 

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kitchens

19 Ways to Use Track Lighting for a Streamlined Kitchen Design

How to Renovate Your Kitchen Cabinets

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