Why do guests always end up in the kitchen at parties? Is it a social phenomenon? Some strange gravitational pull? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: If your friends are going to congregate in your kitchen, you’d better make it as nice as possible. I recently designed an amazing kitchen for my favorite client: my mom (aka Judy, aka Grandma).

Why do guests always end up in the kitchen at parties? Is it a social phenomenon? Some strange gravitational pull?


I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: If your friends are going to congregate in your kitchen, you’d better make it as nice as possible.


I recently designed an amazing kitchen for my favorite client: my mom (aka Judy, aka Grandma). Mom raised me all by herself, and although we went through our share of lean years, she always worked hard to make our home warm and welcoming.


My mom loves to cook and socialize. So my plan was to give Mom The Ultimate Social Kitchen.


Opening the space


Her home’s existing kitchen was large and had an adjoining sunroom, but the space was outdated, dysfunctional and closed off from the rest of the house. I knew the transformation would be a big undertaking.


I decided to keep the room’s lovely terra-cotta flooring, but everything else had to go. I blew out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, removed the old cabinetry and appliances, and opened up the entire space. I then began to organize the three distinct areas — the kitchen, the dining room and the sunroom — so they would flow together.


I wanted the kitchen to have a bright, clean look, but didn’t want it to be too formal or traditional, as my mom’s style is more country chic. So I painted the whole space in a lovely off-white and used an oyster finish for the myriad kitchen cabinetry. I also put up some off-white tongue-and-groove panels on the ceiling that added cozy country charm.


Form and function


In the kitchen, I installed a new island in a contrasting, natural wood finish, with a quartz countertop, a large white cast-iron sink and a concealed dishwasher. The island provides a place where friends can gather around Mom while she’s cooking.


Meanwhile, along one feature wall, I added lots of cabinetry, a range top, a custom-built in-range hood and a beautiful new oven.


Along a second wall went the concealed fridge and pull-out pantry, and next to this I added a peninsula that serves as a sideboard and separates the kitchen and dining-room spaces without obstructing the sight lines.


Cozy details


In the window-filled sunroom, I positioned a round wooden table for more casual interaction and a perfect spot for leisurely afternoon chats. I surrounded this with an eclectic grouping of seating: a Victorian chair, a comfy loveseat, a casual armchair and wooden dining chairs. I included a wood stove in one corner to bring warmth and comfort during those long winter days.


After adding a host of perfect accents and accessories, the kitchen was finally complete.


By keeping sight lines open, choosing comfortable furniture and picking cozy accents, I created the perfect Social Kitchen for mom. My wish is that she will always enjoy cooking and entertaining in her new kitchen as much as she did back home, making memories and maybe offering to baby-sit once in a while.


Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s ‘’Candice Tells All.’‘ For more ideas, information and show times visit www.hgtv.com.