Kitchen makeover ideas to get your space party-ready

Whether you’re an aspiring chef or simply love to host, why not give your kitchen a well-deserved makeover?

KBB journo Charlotte Luxford has given us the full breakdown of everything you need for a kitchen that’s perfect for entertaining – from creating a seating plan to setting the mood for a proper party.

neutral kitchen design with island and peninsula
Uno cabinets in Taupe and Lorenzo, from £10,000, Crown Imperial.

1. Create a social space

Getting the bones of your kitchen design spot-on is crucial to a party-ready kitchen. That means focusing on your layout and considering how the space will flow so there will be no bumping into the cook or spilling drinks. For example, placing the sink and dishwasher together and towards one end of the room will help with cleaning up, while seating should be located away from high-traffic areas to prevent congestion. 

Open-plan kitchens work best for entertaining because they provide the most circulation space. However, in terms of the cooking zone itself, an L- or U-shaped design will have enough preparation area but still keep social interaction alive. An island with a hob that allows the host to chat to guests while still cooking is ideal, as well as a lower-level table where they can sit.

Consider placing a fridge and wine storage area at the end of a unit run, as well as outward-facing cupboards on the island for glasses and crockery. It will allow guests to help themselves without the need to go into the kitchen.

green kitchen with multi-functional island
Hardwick kitchen, in New Forest and Highland Stone with Portland Oak internals, from £15,000, Masterclass.

2. Make a seating plan

Seating plays an important role in ensuring your guests are comfortable. Plus, it should be versatile and strategically placed. So, if space allows, a mix of seating options at varying levels can cater to your guests’ needs in a variety of social situations:

  • Stools at a kitchen island provide an informal set-up. Consider placing the stools in an L shape around one edge of the island for better conversation. Or choose backless, rotating stools, so guests can swing round to chat to the people behind them if they’re in a row.
  • Add a seating nook in a window recess or a sofa for pre- and post-dinner lounging.
  • Banquette seating has become incredibly popular, as it allows guests to sit comfortably while the host cooks. Curved and L-shaped designs are sociable choices and allow for more guests to squeeze in around the table. If you opt for banquette seating, consider dining tables with a central pedestal rather than corner legs, making it easier for guests to get in and out.
bar stools at kitchen island
Fonda Barstool in Spiced Latte smart velvet, £450, Stone pendant lights, £270 each, Tom Dixon. 

3. Kitchen makeover ideas: hosting essentials

Hosting is all about convenience and making guests feel at home. There are a number of features that can help create the ultimate kitchen for entertaining.

Consider incorporating a well-equipped home bar with a sink, wine storage and a dedicated area for mixing drinks. It could also be a place to display your glassware and barware, making a focal point of the room and adding a sense of theatre and occasion.

On a more practical note, butlers’ pantries or utility rooms that double up as a second kitchen are increasingly in demand. They can have an additional sink, hob, oven and countertop space, as well as an extra dishwasher. 

white and wood kitchen with island and banquette seating
Tillingham kitchen, from £40,000, Davonport.

4. Maximise your storage potential

When hosting, you want to ensure everything has its place, so that surfaces remain clear of clutter – for both practical and aesthetic reasons. This way, your kitchen is party-ready at all times. To maximise the available space, consider installing cupboards that go all the way up to the ceiling to prevent wasted space at the top.

 If you prefer a more streamlined look, consider slide-and-hide pocket doors to conceal cooking zones or the more utilitarian aspects of the kitchen, with integrated appliances and a hidden walk-in pantry or larder. Larders or countertop cupboards can help you organise all your staple ingredients and small appliances, while keeping them within reach of your central kitchen area.

Integrated solutions like pull-out spice racks, vertical tray storage and built-in recycling bins keep things organised and out of sight. Long pan or crockery drawers offer more efficient storage, especially on an island or peninsula.

Extra fridge and freezer storage is also a must, as no host wants to have to choose between prioritising food storage and keeping drinks cool. 

open pantry
Harpley range, from £15,000, Naked Kitchens.

5. Kitchen makeover ideas: set the mood

When planning your lighting scheme, embrace the full range of lighting sources available. A combination of downlights and pendant lighting will illuminate the whole space. Task lighting, such as directional spotlights, provides much-needed extra illumination to functional prep and cooking areas above worktops and cookers.

Ceiling lights directly above your preparation and eating areas should provide a bright, clean light where you need it most and avoid shadows being cast, while recessed spotlights will reduce visual clutter. Dimmer switches on your main lights allow you to adjust the level of ambient lighting when your guests arrive.

multi-functional island
Urbo and Metro kitchen, from £35,000, Roundhouse.

When hanging lights over an island or dining table, odd numbers are better than evens visually. Remember that fittings should be hung around 30 to 36 inches above the surface, so you can see your guests.

And, if your furniture is square or round, a statement chandelier or eye-catching cluster light will work best.

dining table with banquette seating
Vertical panel painted in Mud Sliding; horizontal panel in Flowerpot Lane; chair in London Bus and bench in Pall Mall; all £27 for 1 litre of Pure Matt, from Fenwick & Tilbrook.

Need more kitchen makeover ideas? Click here for 5 real renovations to inspire your next project

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