Open floor plans in kitchens are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why. They make entertaining much more pleasant and help to avoid claustrophobic kitchen clustering. Sure, guests still congregate in the kitchen, but now they’re not cut off from the rest of the action in the living or dining rooms.
After years of designing kitchens, I’ve realized that, for all the upsides of an open floor plan, one potential downside for those who love to throw a dinner party is that the visible evidence of your hard work and creativity may also include some smells and sounds that distract from the conversation.
We’ve got five great tips that will give your guests entertainment envy, and allow you to focus on the fun, with minimal distractions.
Clear the Decks!
Maximize the space you already have. That countertop knife holder? Replace it with a restaurant style magnetic strip mounted to the backsplash for the knives you use most. Countertop utensil holders? Install a kitchen rail system, also mounted to the backsplash, for your most popular utensils. Lazy Susans give great access and visibility and multiply by three or four times the items you can reasonably store at the back of your cabinets. Finally, slide-out shelves for your cabinets will not only make the prep and cooking so much more civilized, but you’ll feel like you’ve doubled your cabinets because it’s all so much easier to access.
Your Own Private Island
A kitchen island is a wonderful addition, if only for the storage it offers. Take it to the next level by installing a raised counter on the guest-facing side of the island that allows you to hide the evidence of your hard work when you sit down to dinner. The mess is still there, but it’s much easier to indulge in the time with friends and family without a pile of pots and pans staring back at you from the kitchen.
Behind the Barn Door
I love the look of barn doors installed in interior spaces. Installation doesn’t require major construction and you’re left with a contemporary and timeless conversation starter that will allow you close off the clutter with a quick slide. They also make a great architectural statement, whether or not you’re entertaining.
Halfway to Hidden
Another great architectural compromise in an open floor plan is a half wall that runs between the living space and the kitchen space. You retain that open sight line, but like the raised island, have a simple way to declutter the look of the space. While not quite as simple as sliding barn doors, a half wall is a relatively affordable and manageable project.
One of best ways to make what happens in the kitchen stay in the kitchen is to level up with your appliances. Dishwashers so quiet that you need to check the running light to be sure they’re on are very common and affordable these days. A powerful range hood is another good investment to keep the smells of cooking fairly localized. Consider a model with a slightly bigger fan size to get the job done. Finally, for all that hard work you do in the kitchen, treat yourself with those quiet-close drawers you’ve always wanted.
What are your best tips for maintaining some boundaries with an open floor plan?
***Kerrie Kelly from Kerrie Kelly Design Labs is an interior designer who writes for The Home Depot about kitchen design. She loves to provide advice on a myriad of topics such as “how to make your kitchen feel more open.” To get some more inspiration and kitchen design ideas, visit homedepot.com.