Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Entertain with Ease

If you love to entertain at home, it is most important that you include some elements of your own personality in the design of your dream kitchen. Sure, there are some elements which apply to all entertaining kitchens, open design, lighting considerations, sinks, cabinets, and counter tops. However, you should also consider custom features and gadgets that tell guests this kitchen belongs to you.

Open Design
You can't entertain guests if you can't see them from the kitchen. Make sure you have an open kitchen design which allows for interaction between the cooks in the kitchen and the guests at the party. This can be a pass-through windows in the wall separating your kitchen from your living room, or an island with a bar for guests to mingle around within the kitchen.  Some type of barrier such as a peninsula or island keeps your kitchen visually open but curtails traffic flow into the cooking area. Depending on the restrictions of your physical space and your cooking preference, you may prefer your guests to be in the kitchen with you or in the next room. Either way, if you want to encourage conversation with your guests while preparing their meal then you’ll want an open kitchen design.

Under Cabinet Lighting
Most people pay attention to the lighting on the ceiling of their kitchen and miss the opportunity to add ambiance and functionality with counter top lighting. Dim lighting under cabinets can cast just the right amount of light in your kitchen to set the mood for an intimate diner with close friends or family. Turning those same lights up a little can provide the extra lighting needed for food preparation on otherwise shadow covered counters. Under cabinet lighting adds the perfect balance of form and function to any kitchen.

Raised Counter Tops
When you're installing a center island or bar in your kitchen it's a good idea to consider including a raised counter top. This allows your guests to rest their drinks and hors d'oeuvres on the counter while leaving plenty of space for food preparations on the remaining, lower, portion of the counter. Additionally, raised counter tops are a great way to keep dishes out of sight until you have a chance to load them into the dishwasher.

Large Pot Sink
One of the most commonly overlooked components to an entertaining kitchen is the sink.     Your sink should be large enough to soak your dishes, pots, and pans prior to washing. Additionally, it should be large enough to fill any of your stock pots. For this reason, a deep and wide double basin sink is best. A prep sink can easily double as a bar sink if filled with ice and stocked with beer, for example.  It's a good idea to avoid any sink materials that are prone to staining, scratching, or melting. This is a particularly important consideration when your sink is built into custom formed counter tops.

Drawers, Lots of Drawers
Refrigerator drawers, warming drawers, and cabinet drawers are all important in a kitchen designed for entertaining. Refrigerator drawers are needed to keep food cold before serving while still keeping them ready at hand. Consider the type of entertaining you prefer and select a refrigerator which will accommodate your needs. Warming drawers do just what the name suggests; they keep your prepared foods warm until your guests arrive. This can make preparation and serving run a lot smoother when parts of the meal can be kept warm as other courses are cooking. Lastly, it is important to consider cabinet drawers. When you're designing your kitchen, think about how you are going to utilize your storage space. Would you prefer to reach for pots and pans in the back of a cabinet or simply pull out a drawer and select the right tool for the job? Most people elect to install drawers throughout their cabinets in order to make the most efficient use of pantry space, pot & pan storage, and for built in spice racks.

The gadgets that make up your kitchen tell your guests a lot about the cook. This could be a wood-fired pizza oven, high-end coffee/espresso maker, wet bar, wine racks, or any other gadget that suits you entertaining needs. Ideally, these gadgets should be items you and your family use every day and which add personality and charm to your kitchen. Rather than simply remodel your kitchen with design elements and colors from Tuscany, buy a pasta maker and wow your guests with home-made pasta and fresh baked pizza in your wood-fired pizza oven. This will let them experience, first-hand, your Italian heritage and the wonderful time you had in Tuscany.
There’s something about human nature that makes people want to congregate in the kitchen.  Rather than fight it, design with this in mind.  Your guests will feel a part of the preparation and you’ll be at ease with an efficiently designed space.

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