The Party Kitchen

The Perfect Party Kitchen for Home Entertaining


How to make this busy and practical space into the perfect room for entertaining

Words: Ilkay Tek
Top image: Schmidt Kitchens.

With our homes off limits for entertaining for so long during the pandemic, we’re now making up for lost time and having guests over at every opportunity.

“The biggest trend that we are seeing at the moment is that people want to create homes where they can have fun,” says Mark Holloway of Kitchens by Holloways.

We are transforming our kitchens into the primary zone for entertaining and finding additional space to create games rooms, bars and media areas nearby. Taking inspiration from the likes of MasterChef, we aspire to restaurant quality cooking and are keen to share our new skills and recipes with friends and family. Fuelled by a combined desire to express our creativity, enjoy life and socialise, creating the perfect kitchen design becomes just as much about ambience and entertainment as food preparation.

The starting point for designing your perfect kitchen for entertaining is to identify your cooking style. Are you a social chef who loves chatting to your guests whilst you cook? Or do you prefer everything being tucked away and tidy, only to magically present your guests with their food when it is ready? Designing a kitchen that works for you and your lifestyle begins with asking yourself how you like to entertain. This will determine the best kitchen layout, storage and placement of appliances

An open-plan layout remains the most popular choice, encouraging ease of movement between the cooking and entertaining zones and makes multi-tasking a smoother process for the chef who likes to keep their guests entertained. Placing a kitchen island or breakfast bar between the two zones will create just enough space to separate guests from any untidiness whilst retaining the buzz of the kitchen and a clear line of communication. It also provides the perfect transitional space for plating and serving. A couple of bar stools are an ideal addition for a casual set up.


Kitchens designed for entertaining
Image: Kitchens by Holloways

When it comes to deciding what to have on your island, think back to your entertainment goals. Having a large hob in the middle of the island might be perfect for someone who loves to cook as they entertain or even cook with their guests. If this sounds like you, be aware that all of the kitchenware and equipment, along with some mess from the food, will be visible to the guests. Integrating your sink in your island prevents the clutter from food preparation building up. For those wanting to keep all the mess out of sight, using the island to lay out deliciously pre-prepared canapes, is a clever way to divert the eye.

And of course don’t forget the lighting. Lighting has the power to zone different areas for various functions, highlighting what you want to be seen and leaving what you don’t in the shadows. Clusters of pendant lights are a great way to draw attention to the most decorative elements. Tiny spotlights focussed on favourite artwork, twinkling LED strips on shelves of gorgeous glassware and funky neon letter lighting can all help to create the right mood and atmosphere for entertaining.

Moving away from islands, utility rooms can act as a hidden second kitchen when equipped with their own sink, fridge, and storage. All the messy chopping and preparation can be done in this secret room, with the final dish cooked and served in front of the guests for a seamless cooking performance. Meanwhile the main kitchen area is kept clean and free of clutter. “The second or back kitchen is becoming increasingly popular,” says Mark. “They can be beautiful rooms in their own right. Carefully crafted with tall cupboards providing excellent additional storage for assorted family paraphernalia as well as essential kitchen supplies, they combine pantry, scullery and utility with dishwasher, sink, second fridge and freezer all kept out of sight from the entertaining area.


Images from left: Kitchens by Holloways; Sunken Champagne Bath by Tom Howley; dar lighting Light Bar.

A second kitchen or utility sounds like a luxury but it is easier to find space for than you might imagine. “Second kitchens are created in areas that are rarely used – the middle of a terrace house that is left under-utilised when an extension is built or a front living room that is never used,” says Mark. “It is a really useful space that reduces pressure on the main kitchen and keeps the kitchen pristine and a nice place to be, whether or not you are entertaining.”

Depending on your entertaining style, your kitchen design might include glass-fronted wine or whiskey storage, cocktail making space, sound, media and lighting systems but whatever you do, “don’t skimp on the extractor,” says Mark. Always important, effective removal of cooking smells is essential when entertaining. No one wants the lingering waft of onions while eating your carefully crafted dessert!



Tom Howley kitchen
Image: Tom Howley.

Bespoke kitchen company Tom Howley shares some advice..

  • Create multiple seating areas within the space – some on the island, dining table, even a small area for chairs or sofa. Creating different zones will make the space more flexible.
  • Kitchens can look cluttered because storage hasn’t been adequately considered or planned. Designers can create contemporary and elegant bespoke cabinetry and drawers that can discreetly house the items you use, leaving you with clean, streamlined surfaces.
  • Consider features such as a sunken Champagne bath in your island so your guests will feel free to open another bottle, meaning the host need not be on top-up duty for the whole evening.