Design a Custom Kitchen Perfect for Entertaining

Assess how well your own kitchen functions this holiday

It happens every year—you host a memorable, family gathering; every room is decked out with your favorite holiday decorations; you’ve made a crackling fire; and appetizers are spread out ready for sampling.  Where do all of your guests end up?  You got it… the kitchen.  The well-known expression “the kitchen is the heart of home” is never truer than during the holidays.  Since food is central to most festive occasions, your guests spend much of their time in the kitchen visiting with you as you finish the final preparations of your meal.

As you host your family gathering this year, pay close attention to the functional use of your space. Use these design considerations to determine whether your kitchen can use an upgrade—perfect for entertaining.

A Kitchen Fit for Festivities

The challenge for many homeowners is configuring their kitchen to accommodate a house full of guests a few times a year, while serving their immediate family needs the rest of the year.  This holiday, pay close attention to how much space you have. If it is becoming an issue, square footage can be added with a new room addition. You may also be able to reconfigure your existing space to increase efficiency and room flow without adding an addition.

Before any work is started, it’s important to ask yourself what you want to accomplish in your kitchen space.  If you entertain all the time, a larger open concept kitchen might be ideal for you.  If you host large gatherings two or three times a year, adding a large center island with additional seating might be the perfect solution.  Create a “must-have” list for your new kitchen and keep those priorities top of mind as you plan your ideal working space.

Seating

Seating is a premium when you entertain large groups. If your kitchen doesn’t currently have an island, consider what it might be like to have one. An island creates additional seating and more surface area for prepping and serving.  In fact, a popular trend is to have two islands in the kitchen – one for cooking and food preparation and the other for seating and serving. If you have a L- or U-shaped kitchen, an island can also eliminate the “dead end” space where people can end up “stuck” in the back of the kitchen.

Tiered counter heights on an island or a long counter are also a great way to create additional space for guests. Your family or friends can visit you in the kitchen without interfering with the food preparation or cooking process.  It can also give your guests an area to place beverages and eat hors d’oeuvres, while concealing food that is being prepped on the other side.

Flow and Function

When you’re working in your kitchen this holiday, consider how you use your space. Are you in easy reach of all the kitchen appliances and supplies you need to complete your holiday preparations and finish your holiday meal?  Do you have to maneuver around guests to get from one end of the kitchen to another?  When you evaluate your kitchen space, consider the kitchen “work triangle,” which is a concept used to determine efficient kitchen layouts. The work triangle makes up the primary tasks in a home kitchen that are carried out between three points—the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator.  Something as relatively simple as moving the sink to a more central location can make a huge difference in the efficiency and flow of the space.

Is there an empty wall near your kitchen or eating space? If you find yourself maneuvering around your guests in your kitchen, you might consider installing a custom side bar. This will create a natural place to set up a beverage bar or appetizer area for your guests to congregate while they are waiting for you to serve them.  It’s also a great place to store additional beverages and glassware.

Storage

Speaking of storage, when you do a lot of cooking and entertaining you tend to have a plethora of kitchen supplies, i.e., glassware, pots and pans, dishware, cooking utensils, special holiday dishes, linens, etc. Consequently, storage becomes an important consideration to your kitchen plan.  How easy is it for you to access your special holiday dishes? Are your chaffing dishes tucked away behind your pots and pans or are they on a shelf buried deep in the garage? As you rethink your kitchen, consider ways to maximize your storage space.

Walk-in pantries are a great option for storing holiday items that are used just a few times a year. If you don’t have space for a walk-in pantry, custom cabinetry can go a long way to maximizing your kitchen space.  Custom cabinets can double or triple your storage by not only leveraging floor space but also areas up high.  Instead of installing cabinets one or two feet from the ceiling, you can run them all the way to the top of the ceiling.

Appliances that Enhance Entertaining

There are some great products on the market today that can help a host or hostess pull off the perfect party or family gathering. Consider these appliances to enhance your entertaining experience: Warming Drawer, Cappuccino Maker, Convection Oven, or Ice Maker. A secondary dishwasher, refrigerator or freezer placed adjacent to the main kitchen area can also help with quick, easy clean-up and extra storage.

For questions about remodeling a kitchen in your home fit for entertaining, contact Riverside Construction today!

Take the first step by scheduling an in-home meeting with your very own personal design consultant.

We also schedule complimentary kitchen remodeling seminars regularly each month. Let us know your interest in attending by signing up today.

8 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Getting ready to hire a contractor? Make sure you know who you are hiring. Finding the right contractor makes all the difference in your home remodeling experience—from the quality of the work, to your emotional stress, and the timeliness of your project. As you narrow your search for potential remodeling contractors to work with, ask these important questions to ensure the right fit:

  1. Is your company a full-service or a specialty firm?

If you are planning a small project, for example replacing the bathroom plumbing fixtures, you may be better off hiring a plumber. However, if you’re looking to change the entire layout (building an addition, knocking down walls or reconfiguring your living space), then you may want to consult a full-service company or a design/build firm.

  1. How long have you been in business and can I get a list of references?

Longevity often coincides with experience, and it’s important to find out how long the company you’re considering has been in business. A long track record of happy clients speaks volumes. Ask for a list of client references and call on them. Take the opportunity to ask questions that will give you an idea of what it is like to work with them. Some questions might include “What did the contractor do well?’, “What did they do poorly?”, “Were there problems or surprises along the way?”, “If there were problems, how were the problems handled?”, “Were there cost overruns?” If so, why?” “Did they complete on time?” If not, what caused the delay?” If you can visit a current job that the contractor is working on, even better!

  1. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?

A satisfied client wants to give referrals. So, if the remodeling contractor you’re considering has a high percentage of referral business, it is a strong indication that you would be in good hands—working with a firm that focuses on customer satisfaction.

  1. Are you licensed, bonded and insured?

Licensing laws vary by state, so check requirements and verify contractor licensing requirements before hiring. In the Tippecanoe county Indiana area the only contractors that are required to be licensed are plumbing and electrical contractors.

Bonding protects you if a remodeling contractor fails to complete a job, doesn’t pay for permits, or fails to meet other financial obligations, such as paying for suppliers or subcontractors or covering damage that workers may cause to your property.  Any contractor who is bonded will be held financially responsible for completing your project.

It’s also important for a company to have general liability insurance, which covers property damage and bodily injury caused by the contractor’s work. Also make certain the contractor’s insurance policy includes workers’ compensation, which covers injuries the contractor’s employees may suffer while on the job. Without it, you, the property owner, could be held liable for personal injury if the contractor does not have proper coverage. Consequently, it’s in your best interest to ensure the company you choose is bonded, licensed and insured.

  1. Will a permit be required for my project?

Small changes to your home, like painting, new flooring, minor electrical repairs or fixture replacements won’t typically need a permit. However, updates that include major structural changes, room additions, window installations, or electrical wiring will usually require a city permit.

Failure to obtain the necessary permits or to arrange obligatory inspections can be illegal. A qualified remodeling company will be aware of any necessary permits and will handle obtaining them on your behalf.

  1. Is your company lead certified?

Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.  Contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination if they find lead in the paint in your home. For the health and safety of your family, you’ll want to make sure the company you choose is lead certified and performs a lead test before they start your project.

  1. What professional memberships do you belong to?

Membership in an industry association keeps business owners on top of important, ever-changing issues, trends and legislation within the local area. For remodeling firms, membership in various trade associations like NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) and Remodelers Advantage can be a mark of quality and is another indicator that the company you are considering is among a respected, trusted group of builders.

  1. Are you a general contractor or design/build firm? What is the difference?
  • What is your approach to planning and scope of work?
  • How do you control the quality of your jobs?
  • Do you use subcontractors of employees?
  • How do you handle scheduling?

As you begin your research, you’ll discover that there are two distinct types of remodeling companies – general contractors and design/build contractors.  General contractors traditionally work with a designer or architect independently, and hire a variety of subcontractors to help complete the home remodeling project. As an owner, you could potentially have multiple contacts during the design phase, as well as, multiple contacts during the construction phase.

A design/build firm is different from a general contractor in that there is one chain of command held accountable for properly managing your project from start to finish. An assigned project manager coordinates each vendor and sets the pace and expectations for the design/build remodeling process—greatly reducing any chance for items to fall through the cracks. Serving as the main contact between the designer, construction crew and you, the project manager acts as an “air traffic controller” and oversees the entire schedule.  They keep the team moving as each deadline approaches.

A general contractor works independently with an architectural designer (of your choosing) and carries out construction based on the architect’s finished plans. If there are any issues (errors in measurement, structural issues, etc.) there is no one held accountable for the error. This unfortunately can leave the door open for “finger pointing”.

On the other hand, a design/build firm is accountable for your project’s end-result—including the finished design, cost and timeline. Because the same team designs and builds your project, there is more focused attention on accurately estimating and scheduling the project early in the design phase. As such, you will never hear complaints that the project ran over two times what the architect estimated. All costs are considered before the construction process starts.

We hope these questions help you establish a company’s qualifications and reputation and lead you decide on the right person for your home remodeling needs.

If a design/build firm is right for you, we would love for you to consider Riverside Construction. To schedule your first appointment with Lafayette’s premier design build firm, call 765.838.1644 or request a free in-home consultation.