Put a beverage and snack station toward the public-facing edge of the kitchen. That helps keep kids—and guests—away from the hot stove and sharp knives. The station might take the shape of a wet bar, with a wine chiller and sink. Or the emphasis could be on coffee and snacks, with a coffeemaker, a cabinet for cups and mugs, and a refrigerator drawer for milk and juice boxes.
If you love to bake, add a baking station. Unlike the other zones, this one should be near the oven, with room for baking supplies and equipment, and a marble countertop for rolling out dough.
3. Contain the mess. Some homeowners resist an open kitchen because they don’t want guests staring at messy pots and pans. But there are ways around the dilemma. In the kitchen featured here, a peripheral cleanup zone, with sink, dishwasher, and expansive landing area for dirty dishes, helps keep the mess off to the side during dinner parties; a second island prep sink serves the main work triangle. Another strategy is to add a raised bar to the “public” side of a kitchen island. That will give guests a place to perch during meal prep, then homeowners can hide the mess from view once dinner is under way. An island bar also provides seating during casual meals.
Add an island. This central counter will give people a place to sit while you’re preparing the meal. Just don’t let it clog traffic. There should be 42 to 48 inches of clearance on all sides.
When entertaining, an island can function as an interactive buffet. “Food has gone from something you serve at a party to something you do at a party,” says Steven Raichlen, author of “Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys.” Mindy Weiss, a party planner based in Los Angeles, likes to arrange salad bars, panini stations, and other dishes on the island that bring guests into the food-prep experience. Another crowd pleaser: Fill an island prep sink with ice and use it for a raw bar or a place to serve chilled drinks.