Quiet nights and the occasional takeout straight from the container are nice – and a realistic part of busy lives. But sometimes, you just need to flex your culinary muscles, put on your hosting game face, and throw the doors open for gatherings that guests not only enjoy but come to eagerly anticipate. Your secret weapon to elite entertaining? No, it’s not (necessarily) a caterer and cleaning crew. It’s your kitchen.

How to Design a Kitchen for Entertaining

Remember, your guests are here to see and spend time with you. No one is happy when the host is stressed, frazzled, and wearing most of the Puttanesca they made from scratch. While entertaining can be challenging, the right kitchen design makes it seem like you do all of it effortlessly.

To make them wonder how you do it:

Opt for an Open Floor Plan

Not only is the open floor plan alive and well, it is ideal for entertaining. With a closed design, the chef, prep cook, expediter, bartender, and dishwasher (A.K.A. you) are separated from the action. While this works for some, it may not be appealing for those who prioritize interactions and experiences with their guests. An open plan allows everyone to connect, mix, mingle, and move comfortably throughout the space.

Play Zone Offense

While many hosts do want to see and talk to their guests, no one wants too many cooks in the kitchen. Designing your kitchen with a clear work zone for prep, cooking, plating, and cleaning is a must. You might, for example, utilize the “kitchen triangle” rule. This is when your range/oven, sink, and refrigerator are positioned in a triangle, allowing you to move efficiently through your space to complete tasks. The triangle is your zone.

Guests can make themselves quite at home in the “social zone,” – that is, an expansive island (which makes a great, natural barrier) or other seating arrangement nearby. Or they can drift onto an adjacent patio, deck, living room, etc. Ensure that it is easy to navigate in and between these zones for seamless traffic flow. For busy hosts, this helps create a bit of separation without the isolation.

Stay Guest-Ready

How do you do all the work without making it seem like you’re doing all the work? Hide the chaos in a second kitchen or well-equipped butler’s pantry that has all the tools and appliances (including a second oven, warming drawers, and beverage fridges) you need for a successful event.  Your main kitchen serves a stunning social hub and serving area, while the second kitchen is the site of all the slicing, dicing, mixing, shaking, storing, and staging. And you can leave that saucepan of Puttanesca to soak out of sight of your guests. If you do use a caterer, this can also serve as a fantastic workspace for these professionals.

 

Work Smarter

Pulling off a fun-for-all gathering is easier when you work smarter – or rather, when your kitchen features work smarter for you. Obviously, smart appliances are a great place to start. They can help with every step from ordering groceries to preheating the oven at the optimal time to doing a faster, quieter load of dishes so you never run out of clean glasses and hors d’oeuvres plates

Additionally, consider integrating options like a double dishwasher for larger and/or more frequent entertaining, six- to eight-burner range for greater efficiency, warming drawers, wine fridge, and… our favorite, a wet bar or beverage center so guests can serve themselves – and stay out of your way!

Set the Mood

The kitchen is often the heart of the home – but without ambience and atmosphere, it’s a cold heart indeed. Fill it with warmth and welcoming. Lighting does a great deal of the heavy lifting here by providing both the functional task illumination we need for tasks as well as the more subtle glow that makes a social event an experience.

From ceiling spotlights or LED downlights for detailed-oriented work to pendants and chandeliers for those intimate chats, there are a myriad of options to meet your needs . The key is layering the light so you have task, ambient, and accent lighting working seamlessly for you.

Think About Things People Don’t Usually Think About

Like…

Acoustics: With plenty of hard surfaces in the kitchen, sound – music, games, conversations – can become overwhelming. If you don’t want people shouting to be heard, incorporate soft furnishings, surfaces, and textiles. This dovetails beautifully with the trend towards treating the kitchen as another living room; think about upholstered chairs, banquettes (they are back), area rugs, window treatments, and plants in the social zones.

Extraction. Your range hood or exhaust fan is the unsung hero of the kitchen. It works to remove fumes, smoke, heat, steam, airborne grease, and products of combustion… Essentially clearing the air. When designing a kitchen for entertaining, and really, for living, make sure your extraction system is up for the job, properly vented, and, above all, quiet and discrete.

The Fact That You Actually Live Here. You don’t need to turn your home into a commercial kitchen in order to accommodate guests graciously. You live here; your household members make memories here. Make sure that it is comfortable and convenient for your needs on a day-to-day basis and that it is equally adept at entertaining the kids at snack time as it is 15 colleagues at cocktail hour.

The Perfect Kitchen for Your Forever Home

If a priority for you and your lifestyle, designing a kitchen that is ideal for entertaining is a worthwhile – and exciting – endeavor. Especially if it means less toil and trouble and more connection and conversation for you.

We want to learn about your entertaining aspirations and ideas. Connect with G&G.