Socializing the Kitchen

The kitchen has become not only the place for meal preparation, cooking and eating; it's often the place for social functions, doing homework or simply "hanging out."

Here's a few ideas from Consumer Reports on maximizing this area to its full social potential:

  • Add a central counter or island, preferably 42-48 inches of clearance on all sides (not only does this provide more sitting space, it won't block incoming and outgoing "traffic"). A kitchen island can also function as an extra buffet table or as a bar/drink station (the island prep sink can be filled with ice).
  • Activity "zones" can be set up, such as a beverage-snack section toward the public-facing edge of the kitchen (this also works to help keep children and guests away from the main work area of the fridge, oven and sink). There could be an area for coffee and snacks-a separate cabinet for cups, a fridge drawer for milk or fruit boxes, and the coffee maker on a countertop section near the cups (or mugs).
  • Did you know that the eat-in kitchen was one of the most desired features, according to a 2013 survey of homebuyers by the National Association of Realtors? Built-in breakfast nooks are also making a comeback (and are good for resale value, too); besides a handy place to chow down, they're also a great spot to take care of bills, go over important paperwork and to work on writing assignments (!). And they also provide great additional storage space.
  • You can open up a kitchen by using half-walls or arched openings (not enough shelves? There are now sturdy, attachable ones available at most hardware stores). Color can be used to connect the kitchen with the rest of the house; for example, repeat a shade from the living room in your choice of artwork on the kitchen walls, or the color of the countertop appliances.
  • Like to use the computer in the kitchen (or breakfast nook)? Consider build-in charging stations; they can be tucked into a cabinet or drawer that's fitted with electrical outlets or docks. Need to charge only a couple of things? There are electrical outlets with built-in USB ports by Leviton and other manufacturers that can be installed in a kitchen backsplash.

Source: "How to create a social kitchen"-From Consumer Reports-The (Sunday) Vindicator, August 10, 2014

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