Let Holiday Gatherings Inspire Your Kitchen Remodel

As you host guests this season, consider 6 ideas that could make your kitchen more comfortable for entertaining

Sean Lewis December 18, 2018 | Courtesy of Houzz.com

If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, the holidays can be a great time to think about the features you’d like to include. With parties and family gatherings happening more frequently this month, people may be filling your kitchen. As they do, I encourage you to pay attention to what’s working in your space and what is not. Perhaps jot down some notes that can help you start a remodeling wish list. 

In my experience, I know you can change a kitchen in a number of ways, both big and small, to make it more inviting for guests. Here are four strategies you might consider for a future remodel — plus a couple of smaller projects to consider for the near-term if you want a quicker, less expensive upgrade. Which improvement would you most like to see in your kitchen?

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Projects to Consider in a Kitchen Remodel

1. Create out-of-the-way seating. 
Lounge seating is great for keeping guests comfortable and out of the way when you’re cooking, so consider adding a window seat or sofa. While many kitchens have bar stools, lounge seats are more comfortable, and lower seats are easier for elderly guests to use. Built-in seating can also include storage for pots or platters. This kitchen window seat feels inviting with its bright cushions and garden view. 

Adding a lounge seat to a window, such as the one in this remodel by Koffka Phakos Design, could be a way to enhance your kitchen for guests without investing in a full remodel. Or it could be a good project to consider as part of a larger kitchen remodel down the road. 

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2. Design your kitchen around a fireplace, or add one. Is there anything cozier than a crackling fire at a family holiday? If you are expanding your kitchen into another room or even building a new home, consider including a fireplace in the kitchen, as in this project by Barbara Gisel Design. We always light fires in our living room during winter parties, but it’s not enough to draw the crowds; everyone still hangs out in the kitchen. If a new fireplace is not an option for your renovation plan, try to open sight lines to a hearth in another room that has one.

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Alternatively, a wood-burning stove gives even more warmth than a fireplace and can be installed at a much lower cost. Some wood stoves can also be used for cooking or keeping a dish warm. Kitchen & Bath Gallery worked on this project.

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3. Install glass-front cabinets or open shelves. Keeping dishes and barware in glass-front cabinets is a great way to make guests comfortable because it makes it easier for them to find items without having to ask. Guests will also feel more comfortable helping to unload the dishwasher if they can see where dishes go, and who doesn’t like help with that? The glass cabinet doors in this kitchen by Airy Kitchens bring more color to the room by displaying colorful china.

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4. Build in convenient garbage and recycling areas. It’s so annoying when you’re trying to do dishes at a party where the garbage is under the sink, and you constantly have to move every time a guest needs to throw out a napkin. Although you do want to keep garbage near the sink, try to place it where guests can easily access it without blocking the sink, stove or dishwasher. Try locating garbage and recycling near the end of your island or peninsula so guests don’t have to enter your work zone. This Studio Dearborn kitchen has a convenient trash station that also keeps paper towels easy to see and grab — key if there are spills at your party!

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Projects to Consider Without a Full Remodel

5. Create a coffee station. 
Make it easy for overnight guests to rise and shine while you sleep in by having all the coffee and tea in one spot (with labels) so people can fend for themselves. This way, if you’re busy cooking pancakes, guests can feel comfortable brewing a second pot of coffee. A coffee bar is a great built-in to consider when renovating, but this useful station can also be set up in an existing kitchen using a piece of furniture like a hutch, as shown in this Edmondson Interiorsproject, or even a console table.

6. Install speakers and dimmers. A bright and quiet kitchen may be ideal for the everyday, but parties are quite the opposite. Lights are dimmed, and music gets turned up. Dimmers are easy to install, and they give good ambience for a party. This Shaker Kitchen Co. kitchen has a nearby television and speakers, so guests and cooks can keep their eye on the game while hanging out in the kitchen.

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This open-plan kitchen by Signature Custom Homes — connected to a dining area and living area — features built-in speakers in the ceiling. Although it’s easier to install these during a remodel, it’s not too difficult to add them to an existing kitchen. Consider hiring an acoustical consultant to help figure out the best places to install speakers. Using built-in speakers throughout your entertaining areas allows you to play music more quietly and still hear it in different rooms (rather than having it too loud in one room and too quiet in another).