Not everyone has the luxury of a separate dining room, and some even prefer the open plan look, giving them one big space to deal with downstairs. If either of these two scenarios is familiar to you, you might be wondering just how you can still entertain guests in the future (restrictions allowing, of course). In the former scenario, you don’t have anywhere for them to sit, and in the latter, there’s almost too much space.
Assuming your kitchen has just a little spare room for a seating area, all is not lost. The changes you make don’t have to be permanent features if you don’t entertain very often, but they can make a big impact on your ability to have friends and family over for a wonderful home-cooked meal. Read on to find out more about how to make your kitchen a great space for entertaining.
Sneak In More Seating
If you already have a kitchen diner and you have a suitable dining table and enough chairs around it, you won’t have to worry about this step, but if you have more guests coming than you have chairs, or if you don’t have enough space for a standard dining table set up, what can you do? You will need to sneak in more seating if you possibly can. One way to do this is to use a banquette. These benches are often slimmer than a standard dining chair would be, and they fit directly up against the wall, giving you a lot more room to play with. Plus, more people can squeeze onto a bench than chairs which only hold one person each. This could be a way to increase your seating by a third or more.
A banquette is also useful because you can add storage beneath it (ideally with a lift-up seat so that it’s easy to use). Whether you have a folding table that can be kept beneath the bench when it’s not needed, or you use this area to store additional kitchen items to give you more space, the more storage you have, the better.
Declutter The Kitchen
In order to make the kitchen a more comfortable space for your guests, to give yourself more room, and to make it easier to prepare food, you should declutter the kitchen as much as possible. Often our kitchen surfaces can become covered in items, many of which don’t belong in the kitchen. It’s a handy space to leave various things from around the home, and over time we just forget that it’s there – we get used to the mess.
If your kitchen could do with a tidy and a declutter make this your first priority. Then you’ll see how much space you have, and the kitchen will feel bigger and better too.
If the items do actually belong in the kitchen, is there a space for them? If not, you’ll need to invest in additional storage. The banquette mentioned above is one option, but there are many others such as a display cabinet for crockery and glassware or open shelves where the cookware can be tidied away, but is still easy to get to when you need it.
Build An Island
An island (or peninsular – similar to an island but placed at the end of a work surface rather than in the middle of the room) can be an ideal addition to a kitchen if you want to make it more of a space for entertaining than just a cooking area.
Whether it’s a large central island or a smaller breakfast bar, you just need enough of a work surface for people to place their drinks or even their plates (the addition of stools can make up for a lack of a dining table, and can create a quirky and memorable place for your guests to sit).
It’s best to speak to professionals about how to go about integrating this idea into your current kitchen, and the experts at Granite Transformations Ipswich will certainly have some intriguing ways you can go about this. You don’t necessarily have to change your entire kitchen, although if you wanted to so that you can make it more entertainment-friendly, there’s no reason why not to. Again, the professionals will be there to help you out.
Apart from space, one of the biggest issues with making your kitchen into a place for guests to not just congregate for a short while, but to sit for an entire meal, is the smell. Kitchens are going to smell if you’ve been cooking in them, and this can be off-putting, especially when you’ve moved onto dessert and you can still smell pungent onions and garlic.
There are two main options here. Firstly, don’t cook any meals with strong-smelling ingredients. Now, this is not going to be a favourite for everyone since strong-smelling ingredients are often a big part of many meals – in fact, it can be something of a treat to try new and exciting flavours when you’re cooking for friends. So although this is a possibility, curtailing your creativity in the kitchen is never fun.
The second option is to ensure you have a good extractor fan installed. Not all fans are great, and it’s a good idea to seek out some reviews to determine whether you should switch the one you have for a better, more powerful version. You don’t want one that’s too loud, though, as you’ll end up drowning out any conversation you’re trying to have.
The lighting in a kitchen that is to be used for entertaining friends and family can be problematic. After all, you need a fairly bright light for the cooking itself, otherwise you’ll barely be able to see what you’re doing, but you’ll need a much lower light setting for the seating area so that guests don’t feel uncomfortable and are much more at ease.
If you can separate the room into different areas then this can work without problems – half the room can be bright and half can be darker, perhaps through the use of a dimmer switch being installed. If, however, you’re eating at a central island or the table is in the middle of the room, the lighting issue can be a more difficult one.
Overhead lighting can be very harsh, so eliminate the issue with under cupboard lighting. These lights, which can even be battery operated so there is no need to change the electrics, are stuck to the underside of your wall-mounted kitchen cabinets. Switch them on and the work surfaces and hob top will be illuminated, while the rest of the room can be more comfortable, perhaps with some candles to set the mood.
The Buffet Solution
There will be some kitchens that, no matter how much you try, you’re just not going to be able to fit enough seating, and certainly no table. In this case, utilise your kitchen surfaces and create a buffet. You can still entertain in the space, and people can still enjoy your food, but they don’t have to sit down as they would if they were having a formal meal.
A buffet will also take less time to prepare and be easier to clear up afterwards, and your guests can choose their ideal spot to eat, whether it’s in the kitchen, the living room, or even in the garden.
Although it’s not quite the same as having a kitchen to entertain in, it’s a great alternative if you are pushed for space.
Use Your Outside Space
If your kitchen opens up onto your garden and you intend to use it for entertaining, could you install some French doors to open everything up and make the room feel bigger? Even on cooler nights, the floor-to-ceiling glass in the doors will give the illusion of space, and on warm nights you can fling them open and enjoy the garden as well as the kitchen space, perhaps dining on the patio.
Using your outside space to make an interior room look bigger isn’t a new idea; people have been doing it for decades now. It is, however, something that always works, and if you’re struggling for space but you want to entertain and not be left out of the fun because you’re cooking and everyone else is in a different room, this might be a good way to go about things.
Although it’s not possible to magic up more space in your kitchen to incorporate a big party, it is possible – in some cases, at least – to conjure up a little more room when you look at exactly where furniture can be placed and the clever storage solutions that are available.
A kitchen is primarily designed for cooking, but if you can make it a true heart of the home where everyone can feel welcome, it will become something very special indeed. Entertaining might be tricky right now, but if you can’t have your loved ones over for a meal, you can at least design a kitchen that will be perfect for them when you can.