Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kitchen Design for Entertaining

In America, the kitchen as the "center of the house" is a relatively recent development, inspired by the evolving dynamics of dining and gender roles. For centuries, the kitchen served a function quite distinct from dining: cooking and cleaning. Dining was reserved for the dining room, or later, in front of the TV, in the family room.

Also, traditionally the domain of the female of the house, the kitchen's function changed as gender roles changed and males and females began to share more household duties.

In the latter half of the 20th century, then, family activity moved from the family room to the kitchen. Today this shift is reflected in many ways--not merely in the where and who of dining and cooking, but in kitchen design.

As John Petrie, of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, says, "The kitchen was really a closed-off spot for a long time. Now people want the kitchen to be an active part of the family home." [Source].

To accommodate this desire, kitchens are often now designed with "open" floor plans that combine several rooms in one: the kitchen and dining room, for example. The open floor plan creates a fluid sense of space, the rooms blending into each other.

Despite the fluidity, though, many homeowners report that the kitchen itself is the de-facto spot for congregating. This is true for both open and closed kitchen designs.

Perhaps people just want to be near the food--or the action of cooking the food. The smells and colors can certainly be enticing. Or perhaps its the draw of the cook(s). The kitchen, after all, is the best place to interact with the cook(s).

Whatever the reason, it's clear that a kitchen's function no longer need be purely functional. Today's kitchens can also serve as entertainment centers. If your're the entertaining type, you might enjoy a few of the kitchen design elements below.

While not essential, an "open" floor plan that combines the kitchen and dining area--like in this Bucks County MKBD project-- eases the congestion, making the kitchen the natural choice for congregation.

The Open Floor Plan

If your family and/or guests tend to congregate in the kitchen, why not make the space itself bigger? An open floor plan (as noted above) combines several rooms into one by eliminating impeding walls and other obstructions.

The great advantage of the open floor plan is, of course, space. Instead of cramming into a cramp, closed space, your family and/or guests can hang "around" the kitchen without actually being "in" the kitchen.

On the other hand, if your family includes multiple cooks, an open floor plan gives you the option of enlarging the cooking area to accommodate multiple cooking stations.

Talk to your design team about the viability of a open floor plan. It might be hard to imagine knocking down walls, but often this work can be done quite quickly and efficiently.

The Kitchen Island

For the home cook, the great annoyance of entertaining is working in a crowded environment. As noted above, guests simply cannot stay away from the food! If you're like most cooks, then, you fight an eternal war for space--especially counter space. The solution? The kitchen island!

The advantage of the kitchen island is two-fold: it creates a barrier between the "work" area and "entertainment" area; and it creates additional space for work and/or serving.

The kitchen island is also the perfect spot for your "helpers." You know those antsy guests who just can't help but ask, "What can I do?" Our suggestion? Sit these guests away from the action, at the kitchen island, and give them small tasks to perform. Pluck the string beans! Peel the Brussels sprouts! Juice the lemons!

Note how the kitchen island in this Fort Washington MKBD project separates the kitchen from the dining area. It also provides a place for guests to relax and a space for prep work. 

An Eat-In Area

Distinct from an open-floor plan--where the dining area lies next tot he kitchen--the eat-in kitchen area places the dining experience in the kitchen.

Also not to be confused with a kitchen island, which is by nature elevated, the eat-in area will necessarily include a dining table or banquette--essentially, a bench.

The eat-in kitchen is the perfect antidote for a busy family for whom cooking and eating is all one seamless ritual. If you're the type of family to eat while standing, perhaps an eat-in kitchen can, ahem, inspire some civility!

Part kitchen island part eat-in area, this MKBD remodeling wonder is perfect for entertaining. 

A Wine Fridge

Ahh, the wine fridge, the perfect addition to any entertainment center. With proper planning, your can install a wine fridge that fits seamlessly into your kitchen design.

In the project above, the wine fridge was built into the kitchen island. This design saved valuable cabinet space in the kitchen work area while also making the wine easily accessible to guests. If you do install a wine fridge, just make sure you meet the bog challenge: keeping it stocked!

In this MKBD project, the kitchen island includes a wine fridge and multiple drawers for storage!

FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk the kitchen backsplash and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

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