No matter how wonderfully decorated and comfortable your home may be, everyone always seems to end up in the kitchen. Whether you’re hosting a formal gathering, an anniversary celebration, or simply the kids doing their homework, the kitchen is, without fail, the happening place to be. Given it’s the place with everything you could need, like food and drink, it’s no surprise. While the kitchen is often a warm and welcoming place all on its own, there are ways to amp up the comfort levels and make it a room truly worth hanging out in, whether it’s a party of 1 or 10. Here are a few ways to do it:
Put Organization in Overdrive
First things first. No matter how large or small your kitchen is, if it is full of clutter it’s just not going to be very useful or pleasant to hangout in. Make sure everything from pots and pans to tableware has an easy access location to keep it out of the way when it’s not in use. Put away infrequently used countertop appliances to free up valuable counter space, and only take out what you need for your current cooking or hosting activity.
If you have the space for it, a kitchen pantry provides a great way to keep things tucked away until they’re needed and offers a better view of what ingredients you have. It generally provides more storage space than smaller kitchen cabinets which are better used for glasses and dishes.
Open Up The Floor Plan
If you’re lucky enough to have a large open floor plan, then your work will be pretty easy for you. Rooms that integrate the living room or family room offer plenty of space for everyone. This floor plan provides enough space to include some plush, comfortable seating in addition to your traditional dining chairs or kitchen stools. It also gives guests and family members plenty of room to mingle and seating options based on their needs. If the kids are doing homework they can sit at the breakfast bar, formal diners can sit at the dining table. Or if you’re going the appetizers route, any available seat or surface to lean on is open game.
If your kitchen isn’t open into the family room or part of an open floor plan, but it does have a breakfast nook, a great way to take advantage of that space is to add banquet style seating. It’s a great spot for the kids to work on their homework or other projects while still allowing you to keep an eye on them. When you entertain, it will offer a cozy spot for people to sit and chat without leaving you alone while you cook.
Put the Kitchen Island to Use
Kitchen islands are a wonderful enhancement to any kitchen space and are very versatile in their use. It provides plenty of prep room for chopping vegetables or preparing baked goods, and is the perfect spot for setting out appetizers or a buffet-style meal. It’s easy to congregate around and can be designed with an integrated breakfast bar for grabbing a quick bite, doing homework or just chatting with the chef.
Kitchen islands come in a variety of styles and can include extra indulgences like a bar sink, wine or drink fridge, deep storage drawers and warming drawers. Some are all one level with a large open surface, while others are split with a standing height portion for prepping food and a lower one for sitting.
Consider Your Countertops
Countertops are integral to the kitchen. From quartz to marble to butcher block, this large surface makes a huge mark on your kitchen design and usability. It’s also a popular spot for guests to lean against while having a nice chat, so select a material you love. If you have a growing family, then easy-to-clean surfaces are a smart choice. With kids running around you’re already going to be doing a lot of cleaning anyway, so make it easy on yourself.
Offer Options for Seating
These days pretty much anything goes in the kitchen. Bar and counter stools are a popular option, especially if the kitchen features a breakfast bar or large island. As I mentioned before, if you have an open floor plan, you’ll have a variety of seating styles within the space, like formal dining chairs or banquets.
You can even opt for a pair of comfortable lounge chairs paired with a side table for the breakfast nook, if it strikes your fancy. Whichever you choose, you want to make sure your chairs are comfortable for long periods of time. People love to linger over a cup of coffee, desserts or drinks at the dinner table and chat the evening away. Rather than have to uproot everyone and move to more comfortable seating, a comfortable dining chair will allow everyone to remain present in the conversation while they wile away the hours.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a space that everyone naturally gravitates to. No matter what space you have to work with, always consider how you use it on a day-to-day basis to design a hangout-worthy kitchen that offers the practical functionality you need for everyday.
Nicole is the Sr. Site Merchandiser for Accessories, Kids, and Textiles at YLiving. She is obsessed with great design in all forms with a special love for jewelry, wine bottle labels, and tableware. When she’s not exploring the many museums and art galleries of the Bay Area, Nicole spends time looking for and visiting obscure and unusual destinations (locally and abroad) while practicing her photography skills.