Love to entertain at home? Include these important elements in your kitchen design to ensure guests feel comfortable and relaxed, and to make it easy for you to prepare the space, cook up a feast and clean up afterwards.
Squeeze in ample seating
If your eat-in kitchen isn’t huge but you still want to welcome guests, think about ways to sneak in more seating. A clever trick is to build a banquette, which is more flexible than the usual table-and-chairs set-up.
A bench seat like this one is great for allowing guests to squeeze on, so you can seat more people than you would if you had four chairs around the table.
An added bonus of a banquette is that you can fit storage beneath the seats. Ask a carpenter if they can incorporate a lift-up top so you can access the empty space inside.
Clear the decks
To accommodate guests, your kitchen needs to be uncluttered and as spacious as possible. To achieve this, make sure you have enough storage to keep everything tucked away. Even if your room is cosy and eclectic, like this one, you can still include some practical storage.
Here, the wooden display cabinet is ideal for storing glasses, cups and tableware, while the open shelves keep cooking equipment out of the way, yet easily accessible.
Build in a bar area
An informal way to get people chatting while you’re preparing food is to incorporate an island or peninsula. It can be a large central area or a small breakfast bar like this. As long as there’s enough bench space to rest glasses, you’ll have yourself a sociable spot where guests can hover.
For added comfort, invest in some bar stools. In this space, there’s only one perch, which is fine for an intimate evening with a friend. However, if you’re expecting a few guests, it’s best to move the stool out of the way to allow people to stand comfortably around the bar area.
Avoid overwhelming your guests with cooking odours by ensuring you have adequate means for fumes to make their way out of the kitchen. A good extractor fan is the obvious solution, and there are lots of models to choose from.
This sleek, modern version hangs above the stove to instantly catch the odours as they rise. If you prefer a more minimal design, look for extractor fans that can be concealed in the ceiling or beneath wall-hung cabinetry. Alternatively, invest in a pop-up model that can be tucked into your benchtop when not in use.
Get kitted out
At the planning stage of a new kitchen, it’s a good idea to factor in how much entertaining you’ll actually be doing. If you like to socialise at home often, incorporate that into your kitchen design – particularly when choosing appliances.
Opt for the largest fridge-freezer you can afford and can fit into the space. Make room for a dishwasher, and consider installing a double oven. The initial outlay might be more, but if it’s going to work with your lifestyle, it might be worth compromising on other expensive items in order to make entertaining easier.
Set the mood
One of the best ways to make guests feel relaxed is with lighting. It’s important to avoid harsh overhead illumination, but at the same time you don’t want the room to feel dim.
A layered lighting scheme is key, with pendants and downlights at ceiling height, concealed LED strips beneath wall units to illuminate your benchtop, and perhaps a few table lamps dotted around the room. With some careful planning, you can create a space that’s bright enough to see clearly, but with a warm, welcoming feel.
Choose surfaces wisely
For you and your guests to feel relaxed in the space, the last thing you want is to worry about spillages and damage. Consider this when choosing your flooring, cabinet finishes and benchtops.
Go for materials that are durable and easy to maintain, so you don’t spend your evening anxiously hovering over everyone’s wine glasses. A composite benchtop such as this engineered quartz one is a good choice, as it’s sturdy, strong and a breeze to clean.
Article by Amanda Pollard Houzz UK Editorial Staff.
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