This functional and stylish space allows for both indoor and outdoor dining, with a pantry concealed behind a barn door (at far right).

It’s nice to have company over again. Have you ever noticed that when guests come over, they always end up standing around the kitchen to socialize? It’s inevitable that they gather in the kitchen while the host puts the finishing touches on dinner!

And if you’ve spent a lot of time at home perfecting that sourdough recipe recently, you’ve probably noticed a few things about your kitchen that could be different. Maybe it’s difficult to get a good workflow from prep to cleanup, or perhaps you’re just ready for a new look and a second sink.

A thoughtful kitchen design can help keep the peace between the chef and the guests (or the kids) in an inviting atmosphere with plenty of space for people to feel comfortable. Preparing and eating a meal with friends and family is one of the comforts of home that a well-designed space can facilitate.

Pass-through windows and a convenient side door connect guests outdoors with the cooks indoors.

If you enjoy entertaining outdoors but don’t want to build an outdoor kitchen, extend your kitchen outdoors. We gave this kitchen direct access to a covered outdoor seating area through a side door. The windows behind the sink open to allow drinks and dishes to pass back and forth. Here are four top ideas from this kitchen design:

  • Perimeter countertops are black quartz with a back-painted glass backsplash to form a stylish and solid platform to work from while providing for an easy cleanup.
  • The island is a mix of materials, with a natural stone top bordered by a natural walnut slab that adds warmth, so that guests can sit and even help out while socializing with the cook.
  • Ample pantry space is tucked behind a sliding barn door, providing plenty of storage space along with two large refrigerators.
  • Large-format porcelain floor tiles provide an attractive, durable, and easy-to-clean surface.

A built-in banquette, bar stools, and flexible floor space allow plenty of seating for guests.

Some people might prefer a lighter take on kitchen space. This design uses two islands to compartmentalize cooking tasks while leaving room for guests to watch from the sidelines. Don’t kick the guests out; give them a place to sit and enjoy the company! Here are five top steps to create the best-organized entertaining kitchen:

  • The center island is for prep, with pullout storage racks on both sides. The stove side stores pots, pans, and other kitchenware for the cooks. The other side houses plates, cups, and dishes for serving.
  • Across from the dinnerware storage is the convenient cleanup station: just take your clean plates from one side and put them away on the other.
  • Bar seating at the front of the outside island has a comfortable footrail and hooks to hang a purse or a coat. Below-counter power outlets allow for recharging phones or laptops—perfect for both guests and weeknight homework. The bar also conceals the cleanup station from adjoining spaces.
  • The built-in banquette gives the owner additional spectator seating for those who want to pull up a bistro table and hang out, but be less involved in the process.
  • The porcelain wood-like floor tiles make for easy cleaning and long life.

Dual kitchen islands divide the kitchen into multiple functional areas.

It’s important to think about how you want to entertain your guests while being mindful of the practical aspects of preparing the meal. You don’t want to banish guests from the kitchen, but you don’t necessarily want them to stand by the sink or the stove to talk while you cook. The same island where guests can sit and chat with the cook on a weekend might be an ideal space to watch the kids do homework while someone cooks dinner and helps them along the way. An experienced interior design team is a great place to start the process of adding value while minding costs.

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