Kitchens are the heart of the home, where families connect over coffee, homework and occasionally even food! That wasn't always the case; hundreds of years ago kitchens weren't even part of the main home structure. Can you imagine having to walk through the yard for a glass of orange juice? Once fire-safety technology caught up with construction, the kitchen became more central to the home, eventually serving as a hub for kids, guests and event pets. Second guessing if your kitchen is more than just a cook's headquarters? Follow these tips to make it more comfortable, more accommodating and overall a better space for your crowd, big or small.

Family hanging out in kitchen

No matter the floor plan, you can create a hangout-friendly kitchen by adding a few simple elements. First, make sure there are places to sit and surfaces for coffee cups and tablets. If your kitchen won’t accommodate a booth or larger table, consider a café table for two. If your kitchen is spacious, you could turn an unused corner into a cozy seating area by adding a couch and coffee table.

Breakfast nooks and booth seating provide ample space for everything from homework and reading to paying bills. The proximity to the kitchen sink makes for easy beverage refills, and snacks are only steps away.

Family gathering in kitchen

Open floor plans have made versatile kitchens an even more common feature of newer construction. These popular, wall-less layouts allow for the person cooking to easily chat with guests in adjacent rooms as well as watch television while they cook. Perfect for entertaining, these appealing and comfortable kitchens have a pleasant “lived-in” feel that encourages guests to linger and make themselves at home.

Once you’ve identified which seating options work best for your layout, add key things to make the space truly inviting. Add a bowl of fresh fruit for healthy and convenient snacking, and perhaps even a coffee-table book for your guests to enjoy. Make sure your counters are clear of clutter and offer a space that is clean and attractive. Your workspaces and countertops only need a few essential items, and the open space around them will create visual breathing room.

Father painting with children

Have kids? There’s no need to sequester them in their rooms while you prepare dinner. Make yourself available for homework help and conversation by setting up a seated workspace with supplies and ample lighting for your young scholars. 

By creating a hangout-friendly area in your kitchen, you can transform gatherings from occasional, formal events to daily, casual opportunities for quality time with family and friends.