Most of us love to spend our weekends and evenings with our nearest and dearest, and our perfect home would allow all of these special people to gather for special occasions, celebrations or just a relaxed catch-up.

If you enjoy hosting parties, having large family gatherings, or friends over for dinner, you’ll surely be dreaming of the perfect entertaining-ready kitchen.

The ideal space would involve plenty of room for your guests to relax and socialize comfortably, but also plenty of space for you to prepare, cook up and serve a feast.

However, just having a large room and big appliances is not enough; there’s far more to think about. There are lots of details that need to be correct to make any party or gathering go smoothly, and be enjoyable for the cook as well as the guests.

Not only should your kitchen be functional, but to set the right mood for parties and gatherings, it needs to be dazzlingly stylish, too — certainly a tricky balance to get right.

The key is to plan carefully and thoroughly. So, here are 5 fundamental things to consider when designing a kitchen for entertaining.

1. Create distinct zones

Specific working and entertaining zones are absolutely essential.

You’ll need lots of space for your guests to sit comfortably, and be able to move freely, mingle and chat.

Don’t confine your working space to a tiny corner either: there needs to be a balance. Make sure you’ll have room for the appliances you need and plenty of bench space for preparation and serving up.

2. Plan for easy workflow

Every party needs a relaxed, happy host. Make sure the practical areas minimize work, fuss and mess to keep food preparation stress-free.

Areas for storing food, preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning up need to be very carefully thought through, and placed correctly. In the ideal entertainer’s kitchen, you should be able to flow easily from one area to the next during food preparation, without constantly zigzagging across the floor space.

Place your food storage area (pantry and refrigerator) next to the food prep area. Keep all the equipment you need for prep work, such as knives and small utensils, close by or under the working area. Your kitchen should then flow round to the adjacent cooking area with ovens and cooktops.

Planning in an extra space near the cooking area will allow you to plate up or serve up multiple meals and dishes at a time. Finally, you need a generous cleaning up area with a sink and dishwasher, plus some extra bench space where dirty dishes can sit temporarily.

Get all these details correct and you’ll find that catering for large numbers needn’t be tiring, stressful or messy.

3. Provide storage space for everything

It’s very easy for a kitchen to get all cluttered up, especially if your entertaining kitchen will also double as a family kitchen. It’s perfectly possible to be both, as long as you avoid piles of cookbooks and recipe scrapbooks, and the usual build-up of an assortment of bits and pieces.

An untidy kitchen can never look elegant and sophisticated, so aim for zero clutter to get a stunning entertaining space.

The key to this is to plan storage for absolutely everything: take out menus; mail that needs dealing with; phone chargers; keys – essentially all the things that regularly get left out on the counters in your kitchen. Make this storage really accessible and easy to use so there are no excuses for not putting things away.

4. Pick out the perfect appliances

If you plan on entertaining lots of people at a time, you’re clearly going to need a larger than average oven, fridge, cooktop and dishwasher. However, these are not the only appliances you need to think of.

Other appliances can give your gatherings an edge. Consider a sophisticated sound system, state-of-the-art barista style coffee machine or a dedicated drinks cooler in the dining area as it is details like these that will set your kitchen apart.

5. Include a “wow” factor

No guest will feel relaxed if they are in the middle of the hubbub of preparation and cooking, so treat them to a sophisticated space.

Zoning off a dedicated area in your kitchen for dining and relaxing is a must. Use a breakfast bar or island to physically separate the space, and then give it a sophisticated feel with mood lighting, complementary furniture and textiles, or houseplants, or a combination of all three.

This section should feel luxurious, but try to pick out items that work with, and not against, the materials you have used in the working area. Try to have an overall scheme for both areas. The kitchen needs to look great as a whole, too, rather than having two clashing sections.

Use interesting lighting to illuminate the dining area in a flattering way. Dramatic pendant lighting over a dining table can look incredible, or dimmable wall lighting can add interest as well.

Try to give your dining area the best possible outdoor view so that there is pleasant scenery your guests can take in during a meal. If good weather allows, guests should be able to spill over outside from this space without needing to walk through the food preparation area.

Now, be sure to get these 5 fundamentals right, so you’ll have an amazing space that will have friends and family flocking to your many incredible parties, dinners and gatherings.
About the author

Toby Walker is the Director and Operations Manager of Zesta Kitchens. With over 30 years of industry experience (having previously operated Nobby Kitchens and Bunnings Warehouse Kitchen Centres), Toby’s passion is providing a unique customer kitchen renovation experience, and this filters through the business to ensure a quality product with an on-time kitchen renovation.

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