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Entertaining Without Borders: Open Concept Home Design

open concept entertaining guests for dinner at Kukui`ula-Kainani-Hale-Lanai

Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii

Expand your horizons at home with these expertly-chosen design features to bring the outdoors in.

The ways we entertain at home are 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 that guests never entered (except a private convo with the hostess), are now evolving. The walls have literally come down with open-concept houses being designed with rooms that have become less defined—and confined.

Kitchens, dining rooms and backyards are being reimagined as one cohesive whole, in both modernly-constructed estates and through high-design home renovations.

open concept house for entertaining guests for dinner

Alexandre Zveiger / Shutterstock

“The open floor plan encourages interaction between activities,” affirms University of Arizona alumnus Tyler Jorgenson. Jorgenson is the director of design for Los Angeles’ Irongate, known for designing custom furniture for brands like Chanel, Nike and the exquisite Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Las Palmas in Mexico.

“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,” says Jorgenson, who illustrates this dynamic use of fluid space through his work on the Costa Palmas home development.”

The design may include large outdoor cooking areas, sunken fireplaces, built-in banquettes, and games like bocce and pop-up TVs to help guests spend more time outside than anywhere else in the home.

entertaining guests for dinner in an open concept house

Irongate

An open concept homes’ 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, the design may include large outdoor cooking areas, sunken fireplaces, built-in banquettes, and games like bocce and pop-up TVs to help guests spend more time outside than anywhere else in the home.”

Kainani_Villas-Kukui'ula open concept entertaining

Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii

ICONIC LIFE also spoke with Richard Albrecht, president of luxury home developer Kukui’ula in Kauai, Hawaii, to hear why he thinks the most successful way to design an open concept home and blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, is by continuing the flooring from the interiors 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 through their own space, and entertain dinner party guests to make them 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 groups but can easily adapt as people gather round.”

Ojai outdoor dining open concept house

deKor

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 his wife Isabelle Dahlin (interior designer and owner of design firm deKor), have transformed their 650-square-foot weekend property in Ojai, California into a stunning open concept home for outdoor entertaining.

Portuguese-clay-dome-oven- for the open concept home

deKor

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 a backyard pool with teepee, fire pit, barrel-made sauna and repurposed finds such as a butcher-block countertop and 1950s-era stove from Craigslist.

In regions where nice weather prevails year-‘round, open concept home entertaining spaces centered around the outdoors is what’s in demand among her clients.

indoor outdoor kitchen in an open concept house

The director of her namesake architecture and design studio, Lorena Gaxiola, who has offices in San Diego and Sydney, Australia, observes that in regions where nice weather prevails year-‘round, open concept home entertaining spaces centered around the outdoors is what’s in demand among her clients. And 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.”

open concept dining and entertaining with an Everdure Grill

Everdure

The grills designed by Everdure by Heston Blumenthal are excellent examples of appliances that tie together an open concept home that emphasize indoor-outdoor living through thoughtful design that functions seamlessly. Gaxiola says stainless steel is always a safe choice material, due to its sleek and easy-to-clean qualities, plus it 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,” Gaxiola advises. “Ideal outdoor wood species are cedar and teak, but you can also build the [fixtures] in stainless steel. If your internal kitchen follows for 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 entertaining your dinner guest: it’s time to get out.

COOKING ALFRESCO
pizza oven in open concept house

Oliveshadow / Shutterstock

If you’re outfitting your outdoor kitchen, you’ll love Wood Stone pizza ovens, which brings the stone hearth oven to your home.

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