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In the past, home design separated cooking from dining and socializing. But modern design treats the kitchen as the heart of the home where everyone can gather.

No matter your home’s age, smart design can make your kitchen more welcoming. Elevate your home’s functionality with these three design tips for creating a more social kitchen.

1. Embrace a More Open Layout

An open-concept layout lets the kitchen flow into adjacent areas, such as the dining room and living room, to create a unified space. The design makes interacting with other family members or guests easier for people who prepare meals. It also better includes guests by allowing for conversation during what would otherwise be a time of separation.

If you prefer more separation between the kitchen and living areas to contain the sounds and smells of cooking, you don’t have to have a completely closed-off kitchen. Feeling cramped is one of the telltale signs it’s time to remodel your kitchen. Consider a semi-open concept with features such as partial walls and sliding or barn doors.

2. Integrate an Island

Another design tip for creating a more social kitchen is to include an island. This versatile feature serves as a natural gathering place.

Islands provide extra countertop space for meal prep and double as a casual dining area. Guests can sit on bar stools on one side of the island and eat or converse while the host works on the other. For hours of eating and entertaining, look for comfortable bar stools with cushioned rather than wooden seats.

3. Install Task and Ambient Lighting

Proper lighting improves the functionality and ambiance of any room in your home. Task lighting provides focused illumination for specific activities, whereas ambient lighting provides overall illumination that is softer and more diffused.

Strip lights and puck lights are effective task-lighting options for illuminating the sink, cabinets, and drawers. They make food prep safer and more efficient.

Ambient lights include kitchen ceiling lights, such as flush and semi-flush mount lights, and ceiling fans with lights. You can install dimmer switches to adjust ambient lighting levels for the occasion.

Having an open layout, integrating a kitchen island, and installing task and ambient lighting transform your kitchen into a social space. Use these design tips to make your kitchen a stylish, functional, and comfortable place to gather.