Vail Design at Altitude column: Creating magic in the kitchen only starts with a good recipe | VailDaily.com

Vail Design at Altitude column: Creating magic in the kitchen only starts with a good recipe

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and with the holidays right around the corner, guests will be lingering in your cooking space. No matter how inviting the rest of the house is, everyone wants to gather in the kitchen … so make the kitchen as welcoming. Add in a few tips for great workflow, and you won't mind having friends and family in your cooking space.

I love having my friends and family hang out with me in the kitchen; it's where some of the most spirited conversations take place, with a side of cocktails and pre-meal nibbles. I think the kitchen is as much of a bonding space as it is a cooking space. So in honor of this room, the area that inspires creativity in meal creation and conversation, make a space that fits your lifestyle — it's the key to living well and being happy in your home.

There are those of us who love to cook: We search for recipes, plan ahead and create menus specific for family and friends. Let your friends be part of the cooking process by setting up a few different cooking spots. Everyone will still want to be in or near the kitchen, so plan ahead and make it comfortable for everyone. Think about bar seating, lounge seating or even a TV in the room for the big game. The cook doesn't want to be left out of the revelry!

Feels Like Home

If your home doesn't have an open-concept kitchen area, then try pre-cooking and setting out a buffet, complete with your favorite recipes, dishes that fit your style from heirloom to modern and a unique centerpiece. Another idea for homes that are closed off is to set up an auxiliary bar area, that way everyone can still hang out together. Added bonus: Everyone loves to think they make the best drinks, so your party guests can all tend bar.

For those of us who aren't quite as interested in cooking or sharing our kitchen space, create an open space plan with lots of seating. One of the favorite tips I've picked up for non-chefs is to have a pantry area that can hold prepared dishes that you've secretly ordered. If you're lucky enough to have a caterer, then find a space they can work in to prep the food — keeping guests out of the way but just as happy.

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Part of the joy of cooking is working with the flow of a room. There are two schools of thought on the kitchen triangle, which is used to determine the efficient kitchen layout of cooktop to sink and refrigerator. But be careful not to sacrifice great design in place of the regimented triangle.

Sometimes, the triangle layout can stifle the creativity of a space and sacrifice the look of the room. Don't be fooled; we are still paying attention to the efficient layout of the kitchen, it's just that there are other ways of laying out the kitchen and the appliances so it makes sense for you and your family … again going back to creating a look and design that fits your personality and lifestyle.

Senior designer and interior architect Kim Toms loves to mix it up in the kitchen. Slifer Designs president Yvonne Jacobs plans ahead so the kitchen is the best spot in the house.