Kitchen island with appetizers

7 IDEAS FOR CREATING A KITCHEN DESIGNED FOR ENTERTAINING

No matter how big or small your space, the kitchen is the spot that draws people to its center to connect and create. Getting this space right will help make your home the place friends and family look forward to coming to for great conversation and crave-worthy food.

INVITING KITCHENS

Every successful host or hostess creates a sense of welcome in their kitchen with comfortable spaces to gather, a great work flow and stylish, timeless appliances. When you’re remodeling a kitchen, it’s important to keep in mind that a cohesive, thoughtful design will create the perfect place for your family, your friends and your dishes to shine.

1. CREATE ZONES FOR MAKING

When planning a kitchen remodel with an emphasis on entertaining, it’s important to carve out zones for prep, cleaning and cooking. Designing zones in your kitchen with specific purposes will help improve overall flow around creating food and interacting with guests. These are the three zones to include in your design:

  • Prep zone should have easy access to refrigeration and cabinets to make reaching for ingredients fluid and unobstructed. Trash, compost and recycling should also be nearby to help keep things neat and tidy.

  • Cooking zone consists of wall ovens, warming drawers and cooktops or ranges and any other tools used for cooking. If possible, the cooking and prep zones should be adjacent to keep the movement of hot dishes to a minimum. 

  • Cleaning zone, or the sink and dishwasher, should be distanced from the prep and cooking zones, if possible.
Kitchen with two islands, commercial style range and gray cabinets Kitchen with two islands, commercial style range and gray cabinets

2. OPTIMIZE FLOW WITH A GREAT LAYOUT

Once you’ve considered the prep, cooking and cleaning zones, you’ll want to choose a layout that will create an easy flow in your kitchen. There are six popular layouts that can work for a variety of spaces including:

  • U-shaped or horseshoe: Cabinets, countertops and appliances are installed along three separate walls that are open on one end. This layout is great for large spaces, conducive to optimal zone setup and provides generous counter space for multiple people to prep seamlessly. Sometimes the “third wall” is comprised of an island to maximize prep space.

  • L-shaped: Cabinets, countertops and appliances are installed along two walls. This layout often opens up into living spaces and has two entrance points, making this a great entertaining layout and a great way to maximize the efficiency of cooking, prep and cleaning zones.

  • Island: This is a popular layout in today’s kitchens and can turn a single wall layout into a galley, or an L-shape into a horseshoe. There are many benefits to this option—including everything from creating an extra spot for socializing, prep and cooking—to providing a space for more storage and extra seating.

  • Galley: This efficient use of space is great for smaller homes, it places cabinets and appliances on parallel walls with a walkway between them. To optimize making, place the sink and range on one wall and the refrigerator on the opposite wall.

  • One Wall: Also known as a single wall or a pullman kitchen, this layout consists of a fixed row of cabinets and appliances and is common in studios or lofts where space is limited. To optimize storage consider adding floor to ceiling cabinets. If space allows, install counter space on either side of a major appliance. Keep in mind that the refrigerator will require the least amount of counter space and should ideally be placed at the end of the row.

  • Peninsula: Great for open concept kitchens, this layout is similar to an island layout but can work in a smaller space and like an island, provide extra seating. The peninsula is attached to a wall and can turn a L-shape into a U-shape or U-shape into a G-shape.

3. UPGRADE TO APPLIANCES WITH ENTERTAINING IN THEIR DNA

Appliances are the heart and soul of any kitchen and finding ones that have great style, larger capacities and inspired entertaining features designed into them are essential to any “guest ready” kitchen.


SHOP KITCHENAID® REFRIGERATION

Refrigeration plays a key role in a kitchen made for entertaining. In addition to large capacities, look for models that are easy to clean and have great storage flexibility. The all new  KitchenAid® Built-In Side-By-Side Refrigerator is available in three sizes to accommodate a variety of cut outs. In addition to black stainless and stainless steel, it comes in a PrintShield Finish to resist smudges and fingerprints and adjustable, spill resistant glass shelves are fully removable making them easy to clean. The shelves have been treated with an innovative coating around the edges to help contain spills. This helps avoid having to track down spills that have run over into other parts of the refrigerator.

The beauty of this refrigerator extends well beyond easy cleaning. It’s also optimized for convenient storage flexibility with features like an Easy-to-Access Bin that keep small ingredients in sight and at hand, so you don’t have to go searching for them in the middle of a party. This bin is perfect for storing tomato paste, ginger, horseradish and other small items that can easily get lost on shelves. It also has a Sliding Storage Tray that’s a versatile area for storing platters, organizing ingredients and keeping items easily accessible. Plus there’s an Under-Shelf Prep Zone—utilizes unused space with included 9"x13" baking sheet and cake pan (models: KBSD702M, KBSN708M, KBSD708M) or 9” x 9” baking pan and loaf pans (model: KBSD706M). The baking pans can go straight from the fridge to the oven and they’re dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Ideal for storing food prep or leftovers, marinating, chilling desserts, making focaccia and more.

To provide even more refrigeration storage flexibility, a double drawer refrigerator can be discreetly installed under a cabinet. The KitchenAid® 24” Undercounter Double- Drawer Refrigerator is available in a stainless steel or panel-ready option. Two deep drawers help you organize everything from drinks and side dishes to grab-and-go snacks and even gallon jugs standing upright.

Having a spot, like a wet bar, that’s just for drinks and where guests can help themselves is a great amenity in an entertaining kitchen. Include a wine refrigerator to keep wines at hand and at just the right temperature. Think about including a separate ice maker to help avoid the constant filling of ice trays, or the need to buy and store extra ice. Consider adding open shelving or glass front cabinets in the bar to display ice buckets, shakers, stemware and other stylish glassware.

SHOP KITCHENAID® RANGES AND OVENS

Having the ability to cook multiple dishes at once can come in very handy when you’re entertaining. A double oven or commercial-style range can deliver the capacity you need to cook for a crowd. The KitchenAid® 48” Smart Commercial-Style Gas Range with Griddle is a great choice for all your gatherings. It comes in 9 designer colors, features 6 burners, a griddle and Even-Heat™ True Convection. Use the KitchenAid™ App to preheat, proof, bake and roast, save custom cooking instructions for favorite recipes and more.

SHOP KITCHENAID® COOKTOPS

Extra burners can give you more flexibility when you’re cooking for guests. Consider a cooktop with 5 or 6 burners in either gas or electric to help multitask. If you prefer a ventless look, a downdraft cooktop integrates the ventilation system directly into the cooking surface, eliminating the need for an overhead vent.

SHOP KITCHENAID® VENTS AND HOODS

Great ventilation is key to helping keep lingering smoke and odors out of your home when you’re cooking and entertaining friends. Hoods and vents come in a variety of styles that can be mounted under a cabinet, over an island, or in a wall, to work with different kitchen set ups. 

Keep in mind that vents and hoods come in different sizes to accommodate different cooktop sizes. If you have a 36” cooktop, make sure you pair it with a 36” hood. A hood that’s too small for your cooktop won’t ventilate your space properly.

SHOP KITCHENAID® FREEFLEX™ THIRD RACK DISHWASHERS

A quiet dishwasher with lots of loading flexibility is ideal for event prep and after dinner clean-up. The KitchenAid® 44 dBA Dishwasher with FreeFlex Third Rack and LED Interior  Lighting is perfect for an entertaining kitchen. Not only is it quiet and comes in a PrintShield Finish, it has a FreeFlex™ Third Rack to fit glasses, mugs, bowls, silverware and cooking tools, freeing up room below for pots, plates and mixing bowls. The LED lighting illuminates the interior for easy loading and unloading.

SHOP KITCHENAID® WARMING DRAWERS

A warming drawer can be a host's best friend. They come in a range of styles, finishes and sizes and can be built into cabinetry or they sometimes come as a feature on certain ranges. Not only are these drawers great for keeping dishes warm, some can also be used to proof dough and even slow cook dishes. The 30” Slow Cook Warming Drawer from KitchenAid can be used in place of a countertop slow cooker, eliminating the need for a separate appliance and saving counter space.

SHOP KITCHENAID® COUNTERTOP APPLIANCES

A KitchenAid® stand mixer is an indispensable tool in any kitchen and a kitchen built around entertaining is no exception. Customize it to reflect your unique style. Choose your favorite color, engrave it, add a special bowl and the attachments and accessories that help make entertaining a joy. 

A KitchenAid® blender is another versatile entertaining essential, great for whipping up mixed drinks, sauces and soups.

SHOP KITCHENAID® PANEL READY APPLIANCES

Amplify the “style factor” in your kitchen with premium panel-ready appliances. They’ll allow you to install custom front panels and handles over appliances to help create a sleek, seamless look with kitchen cabinetry.

Couple chatting next to bar with espresso maker and undercounter refrigeration

4. ADD A COFFEE BAR

Carving out a special spot or nook for a coffee bar can go a long way towards creating an inviting and up-to-date kitchen. Stock it with all the tools you need to brew the perfect cup of coffee or amazing espresso drinks. The Coffee Collection from KitchenAid includes everything from burr grinders to a variety of coffee makers, semi-automatic espresso machines, milk frothers and kettles to effortlessly brew up great tasting café drinks at home.

Undercounter refrigerator next to banquette

5. COMFORT IS KEY

There are a number of ways to make a kitchen feel warmer and more welcoming. Install a sound system, or a flat screen TV. Create a cozy nook for smaller groups to gather. 

 

There are a lot of necessary hard surfaces in kitchens, soften them up with pillows, a soft rug, indoor plants. Think about seating. Comfortable stools around the island, a comfy cushion on a banquette, or window seat. Look for chairs that are comfortable enough for guests to sit around the table in, for extended periods of time.

Pendant lights hanging over kitchen islands

6. LIGHT UP THE ROOM

There are three types of lighting to consider layering when you're creating a kitchen designed for entertaining. Ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is the general lighting used to illuminate the entire room. It can come in a variety of forms, including flush mount, or recessed ceiling lights. Installing dimmer switches can help quickly change the mood of a room. 

 

Task lighting provides focused lighting where cooking and food prep are taking place. Under cabinet lights are very popular for this purpose and track lighting can also be another good source of focused light. 

 

Accent lights are decorative lights used to highlight an object or add interest to a room. Add a wall mounted sconce to a wet bar, or pendant lights over an island to accent the room and make a modern style statement.

Kitchen island with cooktop and squash dish getting prepped for serving

7. MAKE AN ISLAND A PRIORITY

Islands are great additions to kitchens. Not only can they provide an extra work surface and a place to serve drinks and appetizers, they can also serve as a place for more seating and better engagement. Comfortable stools placed around a kitchen island create an inviting spot for guests to interact with the maker as they prep and cook, keeping the atmosphere casual and the cooking part of the entertainment. 

 

If your island is big enough, consider installing a cooktop in it, or panel-ready undercounter refrigeration and a warming drawer. This will increase the functionality of the kitchen and help streamline the look of the space.

GET THE PARTY STARTED

There are so many beautiful and functional ways to update a kitchen for a lifetime of family dinners, casual gatherings and special celebrations. With a little design inspiration and the right appliances you can create an entertainment-worthy kitchen that’s just right for you and your guests.

DISCOVER MORE ENTERTAINING KITCHEN INSPIRATION