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As the heart of the home, the kitchen is always a happening place. Regardless of the time of day, there’s always someone there, whether the person is absentmindedly scrounging for food, spending time with friends or cooking an extravagant holiday meal. With all the hustle and bustle that happens there, having a well-organized, functional space is
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key.

It’s often hard to strike the perfect balance between a chef’s kitchen and a host’s kitchen; after all, they require different things. But the ideal kitchen is both, and this often requires a kitchen table, a kitchen island, many cabinets, deep kitchen sinks and plenty of countertop space. Luckily, you don’t need an oversize kitchen to get what you want, though. With a little bit of organization and quality purchases, any kitchen can become the perfect place for trying out a new recipe and congregating with friends.

Properly organize your cookware and bakeware. If your cabinets and drawers don’t include handy built-ins, all is not lost. For baking sheets, use rods or handy dividers to keep them upright and separated. For measuring cups and smaller items, purchase cabinet dividers or plastic storage containers, and use pullout cabinet organizers or hanging potracks for pots and pans. When organizers aren’t an option, make things easier to find by grouping like items together, such as cups, dishes, bowls and food storage containers.

Don’t take the cheap route for large kitchen appliances. Although it feels great to find a deal, there are some items that are worth the splurge. Because of their frequent use and already expensive price tag, large kitchen appliances are definitely about quality. They don’t need to be top of the line, but a good-quality refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and cooktop/range will last you for years to come, so you won’t have to worry about constantly replacing them. Smaller things, such as microwaves and coffeemakers, don’t have such big price tags, so they can be swapped with very few headaches.

Easily create an eat-in kitchen. The foundation of a kitchen for entertaining is having it be an eat-in version, a place where friends and family can sit down with a plate or a cup of coffee. If you have the space, a kitchen island is a great way to accomplish this. When you’re cooking, it can work as extra countertop space, and when it’s time to eat, bar stools can turn it into a nontraditional table. If you have a breakfast nook, add a regular-size kitchen table for a less formal dining option. If your kitchen is too small for either, a small bistro table can have the same effect.

Reserve countertop space for the important things. Even though it might be tempting, fight the urge to display all of your kitchen purchases; save some countertop space for cooking. You can keep everyday small appliances, like a toaster or coffeemaker, out for convenience, but if space is tight, it might be time to stow cutting boards and mixers (yes, even those fabulous KitchenAid mixers). Instead, think about alternative storage. When it comes to your spice rack, opt for cabinet and drawer organizers or a wall rack. And though they might be pretty, dishes and knives are best stored.

Add some color in unexpected ways. Kitchen materials are often neutral colors, but there’s no need to have a blah kitchen. Instead of going with the traditional beige or white countertop, bring in a fun, entertaining vibe by opting for a green or blue countertop; even a wood countertop would add some warmth and color to an all-white kitchen. When you’re picking your kitchen backsplash, think along the same lines. Kitchen tile comes in many vibrant colors, so it’s the perfect way to add a splash of red or yellow without overpowering the rest of the room. Even inexpensive items such as bright dish towels, toasters and tea kettles can help bring a stronger entertaining vibe to your kitchen.

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