Here's how to make an eat-in kitchen work in either a new space or the kitchen you already have.
Cast back a decade or two and dining room decorum was all the rage. Restaurant chefs were hidden "back of house", while home cooks shut themselves away to prepare their creations for the six o'clock reveal. these days we like to see the magic happen, and eat-in kitchens are the norm - but there are still the issues of mess and noise to solve. So how do you get the buzz of an open kitchen without the chaos? Our experts share their ideas for kitchens both old and new.
1. Keep it moving
A great open-plan kitchen draws people in but also includes circulation space, key to good traffic flow. "Spacing the island comfortably from the rear counter prevents bottlenecks, while locating deeper cupboard doors out of main paths will avoid collisions," says interior designer and architect Melanie Beynon of Meme.
2. Eyes on the prize
In the planning stages, think about the line of sight from your dining table. The space where your eye will land is a prime position for a statement oven or wine fridge; the sink, not so much. If the view to the sink can't be avoided, consider an upstand to help screen the mess.
"Positioning the sink out of the direct view of your guests will ensure that your beautifully styled dining table is not undermined by a pile of dirty dishes"Travis Dean
3. Have a hideaway
A butler's pantry is the equivalent of a magician's secret chamber. It's where works-in-progress can be hidden away and dirty dishes can vanish in the ultimate disappearing act. To get the most out of the space, interior designer Anne-Marie Rush suggests including bench space where small appliances can be set up ready for use, and a washing-up area to "free up the main kitchen for less mundane tasks". However, the point of a dine-in kitchen is to be social, so you don't want to spend too much time banished to the scullery. A pocket or rollaway door appliance station, conveniently located within the main kitchen work area, can be a handy addition.
"An open-plan kitchen lets the whole family enjoy being together without feeling confined"Anne-Marie Rush
4. Use lighting to reveal and conceal
Soft lighting can enhance the dining experience but the cook needs a bright bench. Travis Dean suggests LED joinery lighting installed below overhead cupboards. "This allows you to illuminate the work areas without having to use strong overhead lighting," he explains. Interior designer Victoria Waters recommends installing task downlights and ambient pendants on separate switches with dimmers. "This lets you transform a lively open-plan kitchen into a cosy dining area at the flick of a switch," she says.
5. Sound advice
Whether you're hosting a party or relaxing with the paper, humming appliances and general clanging will quickly kill the vibe. "Soft-close drawers will reduce banging and swing-out cupboards will limit the need to rattle around in there." With appliances, check product specification. The quietest dishwashers on the market run between 38 and 42 decibels (almost half the output of an average vacuum cleaner, which runs at 70 decibels).
6. Consider your dining options
Just like at a chef's table, stools at the kitchen bench boast the best view of the action and are handy if you have limited space. In a larger zone, a separate dining table enables a more peaceful and focused dining experience, says Anne-Marie Rush. An on-trend compromise is an integrated dining table at the end of the island.
"Never combine metal chairs with concrete floors"Travis Dean