Top Tips for Designing a Guest-Ready Kitchen

You know the scene. No matter how much a host intends for guests to mingle in an artfully appointed formal dining or living room, they’ll set up shop for talk and drinks in the kitchen. So if you love to entertain and are lucky enough to have the chance to remodel or build a dream kitchen from scratch, check out these kitchen remodeling tips for a crowd-pleasing layout.

Island Time

Think about the different functions of your island — whether it’s an extra spot for seating, a prep area or a perfect place for mixing drinks. The experts from HGTV recommend a U-shaped island and its multiple approaches as an ideal shape for entertainment functionality.

Surface Tension

When trying to plan your dream kitchen, you may think stainless steel is the most stylish appliance surface. However, take heed: The dreaded  fingerprint seemingly becomes magnified and multiplies with the more people who occupy your space. Seek out surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain.

Quick Tip

Buffet Basics

Buffets are ever popular for home entertaining. When arranging your display, consider the height of dishes, varying the elevations so that guests can easily see what’s available. Create food stations of like items such as appetizers, salads, desserts and so on. And don’t forget lighting — tea lights and other candles make perfect buffet accents.

Quest for Quiet

No need to shout to be heard over your room’s loudest (but most important) appliance. Research user reviews for a quiet dishwasher.

Warm Up

Built-in warming drawers are an ideal solution for keeping dishes warm while you’re waiting for guests to arrive or chatting over a mixed drink.

Take a Seat

Will barstools suffice? Or are you seeking out a more comfy place for conversation? Seating is often mistakenly ignored in kitchen design, so consider this necessity before finalizing your layout.

Music, Maestro

Whether music will be delivered by an iPod and speakers or a premium entertainment system, plan for music in this entertainment hot-spot.

The ABCs of kitchen FAQs

When approaching a kitchen remodel or redesign, ask yourself these basic questions to help you determine your needs for creating your dream kitchen for entertaining:

  • What kinds of events do you typically host? Do you only entertain during holidays, for example, or are formal parties a common occurrence?
  • How many do you usually entertain: five, 15 or 50-plus?
  • How do you prefer to serve your food: self-service, buffet style or formal sit-down? The kitchen’s design must accommodate your go-to entertainment type.
  • How many people will be cooking at one time while you entertain? Make sure there’s ample space so you’re not crowded by too many cooks in the kitchen.

What about a butler’s pantry?

Should I consider one in my kitchen remodel?

Butler Pantry

Even a small butler’s pantry can be a useful addition to a frequent entertainer’s kitchen.

Sure, the concept may have originated in sprawling estates boasting abundant hired help, but even today, butler’s pantries are found in modern — often modest — homes.

Their origins: A small pantry area, hallway or alcove between the kitchen and dining room served as the perfect place for china and silver storage or as a location for plating and serving food.

But if Jeeves has the night (or perhaps, lifetime) off, you can still consider building a butler’s pantry into a niche or narrow space. In terms of design, these areas are typically small and windowless. Translation: Don’t forget ample lighting to accommodate the functionality of the space, and think about accenting with mirrors in order to maximize appearance.

Now, about that functionality; butler’s pantries can be used for:

  • Storage: If you find yourself in need of a place to put table linens, extra candles, holiday decorations and silverware, this might be the ideal spot. And many butler’s pantries are accented with open cabinets and shelving so you can display Grandma’s china or that vintage serving set.
  • Wine time: Butler’s pantries make a great spot for a wet bar, a place to display your liqueurs or beer collection — just don’t forget the under-cabinet beverage refrigerator and bar sink.
  • Serving space: Appetizers, dessert and coffee service can take a casual yet cultured turn when offered from your butler’s pantry.
  • Conveniences: Considering a second dishwasher? Another countertop work area for prepping food? The butler’s pantry serves as a handy complement to the kitchen.
Larger Butler Pantry

A Butler’s Pantry can double as a great wet bar. Add a sink for extra entertaining utility.

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Photo credits by xionon and Peter Kemmer