Many people these days want a family hub where everyone can come together for meals, but still have room to do their own thing – be that unwind on the sofa, catch up with TV, browse the internet or fit in some homework. Even if you don't have masses of space, having somewhere in the kitchen to enjoy a glass of wine or supper with friends will allow you to be part of the conversation while preparing the meal. When it comes to the functional part of the room, a good layout will make the most of the available space and keep everything well organised, with the most regularly used items to hand. But it's not all about storage. Flow is an important consideration. Especially in an open-plan space or where there are several doorways or an island to work around. Using the layout to steer traffic away from dangerous hotspots and towards user-friendly areas instead, such as a drinks fridge or seating area, will ensure that your kitchen is a practical, safe and sociable space for all its users, including guests and children.
Think about where guests will sit while you cook and where you would like to eat. Short-stay seating, such as breakfast bars, need to be situated away from the work zone so no one gets in the way, but close enough so conversation flows easily. Skylights running right along the highest point of this roof flood this open-plan kitchen and dining space with light. Hang artwork and fabulous pendant lights to lead the eye around the space. There are many advantages to having an open-plan kitchen. The most obvious is that you'll be able to socialise more easily with family and friends while cooking. It also enables you to keep an eye on children during homework time or while they are playing in the garden. This open-plan design incorporates dining, living and entertaining zones.
For a show-stopping centrepiece look to luxury materials, from deeply veined marble and mottled granites to exotic timber veneers and gleaming mirrored glass or burnished metal. There's a trend towards more textured materials, think raw or rough-sawn wood, honed or flamed stone tops, as well as a contrast of colour or finish between the island and the rest of the kitchen. And don't forget kitchen island lighting – it can turn a good-looking unit into a showstopper of a kitchen centrepiece. Want more design inspiration? Take a look at these showstopping kitchen ideas and our pick of the best kitchen storage ideas Almost all kitchen islands incorporate seating – even the smallest space can usually accommodate an overhang of worktop and a pair of bar stools, although more of us are opting for long kitchen islands with integrated low-level, table-style seating at one end.
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