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For many families the beginning of the holiday season signals the time to start baking cookies and other treats for friends and family. Having designed and remodeled hundreds of kitchens in the Willamette Valley I’m often asked for tips on preparing a kitchen for serious cooks as well as holiday entertaining.
Kitchen as a Party Space
No matter the size of the space, people just love to congregate around the kitchen. So how do you manage to keep them out of your workspace? Try using a peninsula or island at the edge of the kitchen as a buffet area. When possible place the refrigerator or beverage center at the perimeter, so guests do not need to enter your space. A kitchen layout with more than one entry point may allow you to enter or leave the space without fighting through a crowd. If that doesn’t work invite people to join you in food preparation, a task that many people really enjoy!
Serious bakers go beyond the essentials, usually having multiple food processor bowls and accessories. Take those measuring spoons off the rings and have extras for the sizes you use most often. This keeps you from stopping to wash spoons between ingredients. A kitchen scale will certainly enhance your accuracy in following recipes.
Try storing dry ingredients in wide mouth jars for easy scooping. Spices and herbs should be stored near the food prep area but away from heat sources that reduce their shelf life. Rollout shelves in base cabinets provide easy access to those lost corners of the cabinets. Heavy mixers or food processors can be stored on “pop-up” shelves that disappear into a base cabinet when not in use.
Most stone countertops are virtually indestructible and make a great surface for rolling dough. While most kitchen counters are 36” high, a lower height of 30” to 32” may be more convenient in a baking center to best get your weight onto a rolling pin. The lower height is also great if you have young helpers in the kitchen. Elevated eating bars can help hide any kitchen mess from guests and also provides a space for guests to sit and converse with you while you cook.
Late December and January is when we get the most requests for kitchen remodeling after homeowners find that their kitchens are too small or otherwise inadequate for holiday meal preparation or entertaining. Have you ever visited another home and become green with envy at the sight of a dream kitchen? Have you tried to cook a holiday dinner for 12 in a kitchen built for 2? Maybe it’s time for your dream kitchen to become a reality.