Creating a Kitchen for Entertaining

Add specialty features and choose a layout that allows you to interact with guests.
Traditional Dark Wood Kitchen With White Contemporary Bar Chairs

Traditional Dark Wood Kitchen With White Contemporary Bar Chairs

The beautiful dark wood cabinets and kitchen island create a warm feeling in this calm, traditional kitchen. Gray marble countertop adds texture against the neutral walls and hardwood floor. A beige tile backsplash with cubby storage creates a background for the stove. Contemporary white bar chairs with nailhead finish provide an eat-in option.

From: Celebrity Communities

Photo by: Denver Parade of Homes; Photo by Jeffrey Aron Photography

Denver Parade of Homes; Photo by Jeffrey Aron Photography

The party is at your house—and specifically, in your kitchen. Ever notice how no matter the size of your kitchen, that’s where everyone gathers? A home can have an ample dining room and living area, but a crowd will choose to congregate in a narrow Pullman kitchen.

Size is certainly not a prerequisite for a great entertaining kitchen—though square footage will determine whether you can include features like an island or butler’s pantry, if you’re not the cook for your parties. When designing a kitchen that functions as an effective entertaining space, it’s all about the specialty features that are integrated in the space to make serving food and beverage easy.

Before you begin your kitchen renovation, seriously review how you use your current kitchen and set goals for your remodel. This way, you can stay on track as you make important decisions about floor plan, appliances, cabinetry and more.

Entertaining Kitchens

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Ultimate Entertaining Setup

Equipped with large sliding glass doors that open to an adjacent patio, this kitchen has an ideal layout for indoor/outdoor entertaining. Professional-grade appliances accommodate preparing large meals for guests. Design by Iliaja Karlusic of HBA / Hirsh Bedner Associates

Photo By: Designer, Ilija Karlusic

Impressive Kitchen Features

While top-of-the-line appliances aren't a necessity in an entertaining kitchen, a few special features will both impress your guests and provide easy access to food and beverages. This kitchen is outfitted with a convenient wine cooler, double ovens and a curved island where guests can gather.

Photo By: Designer, Vanessa DeLeon

Dual-Purpose Kitchen Island

This kitchen's L-shaped island offers ample workspace for more than one cook and provides a raised bar area where guests can gather. The glass cabinets showcase decorative dishware and provide easy access for serving guests. Design by Gail Drury of Drury Design

From: Drury Design

Photo By: Designer, Gail Drury

Center of Attention

Vibrant blue cabinets and glittering light fixtures make this dynamic kitchen the life of the party. State-of-the-art appliances make whipping up meals a cinch, while the spacious bar can be used to serve food and beverages. Design by Alia Meyer of Jessica Hall Associates

Photo By: Designer, Alia Meyer

Electronic Entertainment

For parties centered around sporting events or movies, a television in the kitchen is a fantastic feature. In this lively kitchen, the wall-mounted television is ideally placed so it can be viewed from both the bar and the seating area. Design by Lori Dennis of Dennis Design Group

Photo By: Designer, Lori Dennis

Gourmet Entertaining

A comfortable, efficient kitchen is a must for a serious cook who entertains both casually and formally. Bulthaup cabinets, high-end appliances and a carefully planned layout provide efficiency, while treasured heirlooms and antique French tiles make this space an inviting center of the home. Design by Van Tullis of Van Tillis Interiors, LLC. Photo by Hyunjung Bay

Photo By: Designer, Van Tullis

Functionally Zen

With a subtle blend of contemporary European elements and soothing Asian accents, this kitchen offers a tranquil setting for entertaining. An island with a cooktop allows the host to whip up meals while focusing on guests. Design by Troy Adams of Troy Adams Design

Photo By: Designer, Troy Adams

Cork Flooring for Kitchen

Cork flooring in the kitchen helps to muffle sound and cushion tired feet -- a welcome feature for both cooks and guests. Caramelized bamboo flooring in the adjacent family room meets the cork in a sweeping curve that enhances the openness of the space. Design by Amy Bubier of AB Design Elements LLC

Photo By: Designer, Amy Bubier

Dramatic Setting

A coffered ceiling creates an inviting space by adding depth and interest, while the kitchen's open layout and large bar area make it ideal for entertaining. Design by Ken Kelly of Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, Inc. Photography by Ric Marder

Photo By: Designer, Ken Kelly

Ample Seating

This entertainer’s dream kitchen features professional-grade appliances for meal preparation and a 25-foot long peninsula that seats eight. Design by Shane Inman

Photo By: Designer, Shane Inman

Questions to Ask:

  • What kind of events do you host (casual, formal, buffet, sit-down, etc)?
  • How many people do you generally entertain at one time?
  • How do you serve food? Do guests serve themselves in the kitchen or do you plate food and serve it in another space?
  • Do you cook food yourself, or do you hire caterers for parties?
  • Is cooking part of the entertainment (as in cooking clubs)?
  • How many people cook at one time while you entertain?


Sleek appliances. You probably don’t need to purchase the professional grade equipment unless you plan to seriously cook for guests. “I encounter a lot of clients that never cook but they like to entertain in the kitchen, and I usually get appliances that are good quality—they look beautiful and they work well,” says Jorge Castillo of Jorge Castillo Designs in Miami, Fla., and Shaker Heights, Ohio. Stainless steel is a priority for most homeowners, and it’s practically a necessity at resale.

Point-of-service refrigeration. Refrigerator drawers and specialty units, such as wine coolers, give the host and guests better access to beverages and foods waiting to be served.

Warming drawers. A must for entertainers for keeping food warm and maintaining its quality.

Double dishwashers. Secondary dishwashers might be drawer configuration or half-size, or full-size depending on the type of entertaining you do.

Flat-screen television. You’ll sacrifice storage space for a flat-screen in the kitchen, but if your often entertain during sports events, for example, and the kitchen is where your crew likes to hang out, then this “appliance” is a necessity.

Island. “This doesn’t always work—it depends on the space you are working with,” warns Castillo.

Raised countertops. An island or peninsula with a raised countertop can hide dishes and serve as a cooking station on the “lower” host side, and on the higher portion, give guests a surface to gather around in the kitchen. It can serve as a snack bar, the dining table or just a place to lean and set down beverages.

Catering workspace. If you tend to bring in catering staff and you have the space to build a butler’s pantry equipped with key appliances (oven, warming drawer, sink, dish washer, refrigeration).

Other Considerations:

  • Glass cabinets to show off beautiful dishware
  • Wine cooler
  • Espresso machine/high-end coffee maker
  • Glass range exhaust hood so views are not blocked
  • Wet bars in the media center with compact appliances

Next Up

Creating a Family-Friendly Kitchen

Add features like accessible food storage, durable surfaces and an open floor plan

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