Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii
The ways we entertain at home are literally opening up more and more. While it used to be that the dining room was reserved for special occasions, and the kitchen was a cornered-off space guests never entered (unless they wanted a private chat with the hostess), the walls have literally come down. Now, spaces are less defined (and confined), and guests actually enjoy seeing the meal coming together.
Kitchens, dining rooms and backyards are being reimagined as one cohesive whole, in both newer homes and home renovations.
“The open floor plan encourages interaction between activities,” affirms University of Arizona alumnus Tyler Jorgenson, director of design for Los Angeles’ Irongate, known for designing custom furniture for brands like Chanel and Nike.
“Connecting with your kids, who are using the living room or den while you are cooking dinner, or enjoying your outdoor deck area, is an amazing and very forward way of living. No one skips a beat with an architectural organization like this. It sets the stage for everyone to really be involved in each other’s lives.”
He illustrates this dynamic of flow and fluid space with his work on the Costa Palmas home development. The architecture not only connects the people inside the home, but also the natural backdrop that surrounds it.
“Beyond appliances, details like infinity and tension-edged pools help the home feel like an extension of the horizon,” continues Jorgenson. “If done correctly, it draws one to appreciate the sky as it meets the ocean’s edge or the mountains. These items are punctuated with features that really inspire people to spend most of their time here. Besides the obvious wine fridges, cigar humidors and liquor cabinets, large outdoor cooking areas, sunken fireplaces, built-in banquettes or sofas, games like bocce and pop-up TVs help guests spend more time outside than anywhere else in the home.”
Richard Albrecht, president of luxury home developer Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii, finds that the most successful way of blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces is by continuing the flooring from the indoors out onto the patio. To minimize the visual delineation of the two spaces, designers will pocket sliding doors and recess the threshold or track so there’s not an obvious barrier.
This ties in to the changing ways homeowners travel, evoking a desire to make their party guests feel like they’re enjoying a vacation in their backyard.
“Hotels have long had seating areas that are comfortable for small groups, but then can be expanded by pulling in chairs from an adjacent seating group,” says Albrecht. “Ski hotels have done this as well because they deal with large family groups. We are seeing that people are now traveling in large groups. In the homes we build, we plan for furniture groupings that can work for a small group, but can easily adapt as people gather round.”
Today’s contemporary high-end restaurants also inform home design and home entertaining trends. Brandon Boudet, chef/co-owner of Los Angeles “it” restaurant, Little Dom’s, and wife Isabelle Dahlin (landscape and interior designer and owner of design firm deKor) transformed their 650-square-foot weekend property in Ojai, California into a stunning home for outdoor entertaining.
The spread includes an outdoor kitchen area with a Portuguese clay-dome oven found at an auction, a rustic-chic communal table made from reclaimed wood overlooking the gardens, and backyard pool with teepee, fire pit, barrel-made sauna and other repurposed finds such as a butcher-block countertop and 1950s-era stove from Craigslist.
Lorena Gaxiola, Director of Lorena Gaxiola, a luxury lifestyle brand and design firm with offices in San Diego and Sydney, Australia, also observes that in regions where nice weather prevails year-‘round, indoor-outdoor home entertaining space is very much in demand among her clients. However, when money’s no object, there needs to be an emphasis on high quality materials and continuity of design.
“A relatively simple solution to create a sense of shared space is to match the cabinetry and make your kitchen look like a seamless expansion to the outdoors,” says Gaxiola. “At an even larger scale, you could completely build an outdoor kitchen with fantastic and efficient outdoor appliances (including) dishwashers, sinks and cooling fridges to give you full gourmet cooking functionality.”
Grills by Everdure by Heston Blumenthal are examples of appliances which tie together indoor and outdoor style in design and function. Gaxiola says stainless steel is always a safe choice material, as it’s sleek, easy to clean, and doesn’t hold bacteria. However, when extending the design of the cabinetry to the outdoors, wood or other materials used in the product have to hold up to rain, sunlight and other weather-related events.
“Melamine typically used in indoor kitchen applications cannot survive outdoors,” she advises. “Ideal outdoor wood species are cedar and teak, but you can also build the [fixtures] in stainless steel. If your internal kitchen follows a color scheme, you can build the external one in metal and powder coat it in a color that complements the internal kitchen or the exterior color of your home.”
So when it comes to dining, it’s time to get out.