Christmas is a time for gathering with family and friends and the kitchen is always central to the celebrations. Whether it’s just a place to cook the Christmas meal or somewhere to prepare, eat and hang out a bespoke, hand-made kitchen designed for entertaining isn’t just about a huge space packed with professional equipment. Even small kitchens can feel big enough for a fabulously festive celebration if it is designed right.
Get the layout right
A room that’s likely to have more than one function, such as an open-plan party space or kitchen diner, needs clever planning to ensure the finished design has flow and connectivity between the various areas. A space that works well for both hosts and guests will ideally include some kind of island or peninsula to separate the working area from where guests might want to mingle without cutting off the cook from the action.
For compact rooms a U-shaped kitchen design is an efficient use of space, allowing for the traditional working triangle arrangement that places banks of built-in appliances to one side with a central sink and cooling to the other side. An open-plan design requires as much space as you can afford between elements but not so much that they don’t feel connected. Define zones for each function by either using broken plan schemes that include screens, low walls or furniture, or separate each area visually with colours, textures and soft furnishings to announce its function. Flow isn’t just about space it’s about look, too, and choosing a particular shade or texture that runs effortlessly throughout a multi-functional room, or think about a single flooring material throughout to keep the look unified without being too structured.
Let’s get cooking
When choosing your appliances for a party or entertaining space you need to think carefully about where they’ll be sited and how they might compromise the use of the space once it moves from cooking to relaxing. Banking ovens will ensure the cooking area is compact, contained and safe, particularly important if there is to be lots of little ones running about on the big day. If you have the space, house the bank within a defined kitchen area, hidden from the rest of the room by an island or peninsula. A hob on an island is a good way of keeping the cook involved in conversations but it’s wise to think about how that might affect the use of the island as a serving space. Including a clean-lined induction hob is safer than having an open gas flame on an island, particularly if it’s being used for occasional dining or a place for guests to hang out.
Sit a wine cooler just outside the main cooking area to allow guests to help themselves to a drink without getting in the way of any food preparation. If you can, consider extras such as an additional dishwasher so one can be being loaded while the other is cleaning, and warming drawers if cooking is likely to be done in batches. Select an extractor that’s efficient enough to get rid of any lingering cooking smells, particularly if you have a kitchen diner. Think too, about appliance noise and opt for ones that operate below the levels of normal conversation, which is around 60dB.
Make a meal of it
If you’re lucky enough to have space for dining then investing in an extending table ensures you’ll have enough room for all your guests when you have a party without compromising on space when it’s just the family sitting down for dinner. When placing your table, allow plenty of space for people to push back their chairs comfortably at the end of a meal without blocking walkways and doorways or crashing into walls. Having enough chairs without cluttering your space on a day-to-day-basis can be an issue, particularly if you have a big family. You don’t want to end up with everyone at a variety of heights at the table so a few neat folding chairs that can easily be stored away and brought out when required are a good buy.
Are you being served?
What kind of space for serving you’ll need will largely depend on what kind of entertaining you plan to do as small intimate gatherings and big parties require different solutions. If you’re catering for lots of guests then a dedicated island will help things to go smoothly. Including cupboards or drawers facing out towards the dining area will give any cook’s helpers to easily access plates, linen, glasses and tableware without them getting in the way of any cooking going on. For smaller numbers, consider adding an overhang to the island so guest can comfortably sit and chat, or even an adjoining small dining area for informal meals.
In the mood
A great ambiance relies heavily on ingenious lighting schemes and multi-functional rooms need this in spades. The requirements of a prep and cooking area are quite different to what’s best for a dining table and also a relaxed seating area, so think carefully about what you’ll need and where. Add task lighting such as ceiling downlights and under-unit lights to give working spaces around the sink and cooker the right amount of illumination when you’re prepping and cooking food. Accent lighting works well above an island or a dining room table, providing gentle illumination for when you’re enjoying a pre-dinner appetizer or the main meal. Add accents with LED strips under a breakfast bar, an island or within wall units and don’t just consider the different types of light you’ll incorporate but how you will control them too. Consider dimmers to change the kitchen from a functional area to an entertaining space with ease