Entertaining in Your Kitchen
And How It Is Influenced By The Design
By Shad Johnsen, CKD
“I want lime green cabinets” confidently spoken by my client about her cabinet color choice. I took her to the samples of laminate countertops for a quick confirmation of her version of “lime green”. Sure enough, the color that she wanted was lime green!
How does this relate to entertainment in the kitchen? In this case, the husband wasn’t interested at all in the planning and designing phase of the project. And, most certainly didn’t feel that he had anything much to show off with in the existing kitchen. However, upon completion of their kitchen remodel, he was more excited to show off their new kitchen than his wife. Because of this, they spent much more time in the kitchen with or without guests.
So, first of all, we should consider some of the ways that homeowner’s “entertain” in their kitchen. Webster’s says: “to show hospitality to <entertain guests>”. This suggests an open field of possibilities. Really, when a homeowner evaluates how they use their kitchen, or prefer to use their kitchen, they find themselves surprised with the need to plan for entertaining in their design.
Most of my clientele are grouped into three main categories of entertainment in their kitchens:
- Both informal and formal gatherings on a regular basis. Full meal preparation with many people involved in the preparation, cooking, and cleanup process.
- Mostly informal gatherings a few times a month where the primary cook likes to have guests in the kitchen to talk while the meal preparation is going on, but not necessarily actively involved in it.
- Most entertaining takes place with the those living in the home. There may be some need to sit and eat in the kitchen for casual meals, but most take care of their own food preparation, cooking, and cleanup.
I have seen too many projects where the planning and implementation of a kitchen design occurred with the average kitchen entertainment planned. Then, upon the first few uses and gatherings in the kitchen, it suddenly becomes apparent that the entertainment plans are not sufficient for the needs. Sometimes the harsh reality of the space dictates whether or not it can be planned for the types of entertaining that homeowners really may want or need.
Let’s take a look into some more detailed entertainment considerations to plan into a kitchen design for each of the previously mentioned options.
Regular gatherings involved in the meal process:
- Two work triangles can make life much easier, so that each party preparing a food selection will be independent of the other. This means two refrigerators, two cooking surfaces, and two sinks. Many of the designs where this is being implemented with my clients may include a smaller preparation sink, an undercounter refrigerator, and a small two burner cooktop.
- Wider walkways certainly encourage more comfortable use of the space.
- Seating also becomes interesting. Try two smaller seating sections adjacent to each work triangle, rather than one large seating space.
- Multiple height countertops caters to different height users.
Occasional gatherings with minimal meal assistance:
- Great option to include a secondary sink for help with preparation and cleanup.
- Higher seating encourages shorter use, such as 42” high versus 36” or 30” high.
- Plan the microwave and refrigerator locations closer to the living space.
Gatherings for those in the home:
- Keep seating close to the work triangle.
- More convenient use appliances with low maintenance.
- Consider tying the kitchen seating and the breakfast nook seating all into one.
- Multiple options for lighting.
For a couple of last suggestions, consider options such as attaching a table to the island, mobile island unit, convection microwave oven when a second oven isn’t practical, and cabinetry in the dining area for quick dish access. All of these ideas and more should be considered when designing your dream kitchen.