How to design a kitchen space for entertaining

Getting your kitchen design right is essential – whether you want to incorporate a space for intimate dinners, casual get-togethers or impressive parties.

By Hannah Fenton | 12 December 2017

Getting your kitchen design right is essential – whether you want to incorporate a space for intimate dinners, casual get-togethers or impressive parties.

No longer just spaces to prepare food, kitchens have replaced formal dining rooms as the place to catch up with friends and family. However, turning a kitchen into a multi-use area requires different considerations than for one that’s in a separate room. You’ll need to design a layout that makes the best use of space and choose the elements with care.

Zone your space

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Image: Nolte

Regardless of its size, the key to making your kitchen work for entertaining is to consider how people will move around it. As well as thinking about where and how you’ll be cooking, you need to plan where to serve food and if you want your guests to gather around a breakfast bar, sit at a table or make use of more casual seating.

An island or peninsula can double as a visual divide within an open-plan concept, allowing the chef to talk to guests while preventing them wandering into the food-preparation zone. However, there are other ways of subtly dividing a room without a physical barrier. For example, a change in colour or material defines an area as separate, as will different counter heights.

Within your workspace, ensure that it remains practical as well as sociable and that it avoids narrow passing places. ‘Consider the position of your sink, oven and fridge,’ says Jonathan Turner, interior and kitchen designer with Bryan Turner Kitchen Furniture. ‘There should be a clear pathway between these three appliances to make preparing meals more efficient and also give the room a natural flow. Islands are perfect places for your sink or hob, eliminating the need for cooks to prepare dishes with their backs to people.’

Practical Dining

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Image: deVOL

There are several ways to include a place for guests to sit or dine, depending on the sort of entertaining you prefer. If you often have big parties, a table and chairs may be the best option, as they can be moved around or removed altogether. ‘Alternatively, a conjoined arrangement, which can be integrated into an island, is perfect for both daily use and entertaining,’ says Turner.

‘The shape is important, though. Linear designs emphasise the proportions of a room, while round or oval shapes tend to be more effective at encouraging conversation.’

If storage is limited, banquette seating can accommodate more guests and the space below can be used to house lesser-used items.