Create a kitchen that's the life of the party. Warning: your guests may never leave.
There's nothing worse than being elbow-deep in risotto while your dinner guests are cackling over a bottle of Shiraz in the next room. OK, maybe your dog dying is worse. But bolting from the kitchen to the table to find out who said what and what was so funny is certainly annoying. Make your kitchen the heart of the home more inviting to friends and family with these inventive tweaks from industry insiders.
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Feel like you're cooking in a closet? "If possible, remove walls separating your kitchen from your dining or living area to create a larger, more social space for guests to mingle in," says professional renovator, Cherie Barber.
"Not only will it look fantastic but instantly add thousands of dollars to the value of your property."
If your kitchen opens out to an alfresco area, large bi-fold doors look super chic, adds Tatyana Leonov, deputy editor of Luxury Home Design and Grand Designs Australia.
"A large island bench for guests to sit and stand around is a nifty addition that allows the cook to be included in teppanyaki-style dinner parties," says Leonov. It's easier for them to pitch in, chop and chat. If your kitchen won't accommodate an island, consider attaching a dining bar to your existing layout, suggests award-winning interior designer, Darren James.
"We're getting more requests for seating that goes beyond the island bench. Tables and furniture are now being built-in to the kitchen itself," explains James.
Install longer and deeper drawers or big overhead cupboards for platters, salad bowls and "special occasion" utensils. "People end up storing grandma's silver punch bowl set in their linen closet," says Barber. This way, you'll know where everything is come party time.
Go one better, suggests James. "Space permitting, serious entertainers are opting for a butler's kitchen, or a kitchen behind the "show kitchen" that hides the mess."
Parties even dinner parties need atmospheric lighting and music. The blare of the 6pm news and glare of fluorescent bulbs won't cut it. "Choose chic lights that can be dimmed," offers Leonov. "And install high-quality speakers in the kitchen within cabinetry for a seamless look, if you can."
For a glam talking point, consider an arty glass splash back, advises Barber. "There's an endless array of colours and textures, but if you want to stand out from the crowd, customise your own design." Beyond the budget? Paint a mural, incorporate funky wall paper or fix a chalkboard to the wall let your guests go nuts with the chalk.
Cater for... everybody? Go for appliances that perform double duties, urges Barber. "A fridge with an ice maker is great or a combination steam oven allows you to cook up different types of delicacies at the same time." A warming drawer under the oven with adjustable racks is a lifesaver, adds James. Wow guests with a wine or bar fridge. "Store those prized bottles of Moet away from your fruit and veggies! Clear glass doors means you or your guests can easily access the right drop, while adding a luxurious touch to an otherwise dull space," says Barber.