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On the Menu, At Home

Curating an elevated dining experience at home

The art of hospitality is alive and well, not just in Las Vegas' ever-popular restaurants, but in the homes of valley residents, where lately, homeowners are enjoying entertaining in the comfort of their own homes. Indeed, according to local designers, curating a welcoming and inviting space in which to enjoy and prepare meals that feels both elevated and practical is what’s on the menu these days.

“A space does much more than merely exist,” says Liz Werner, owner of Mercato Interiors, a renowned local high-end furniture store. “It influences, ignites memories, and ultimately brings joy.”

The nostalgic influence of food and its preparation is undeniable, but often, there are memories just as strongly associated with the act of preparing and enjoying it. Undoubtedly, decades later, many can still conjure up memories of sitting around their grandmother’s kitchen table, finishing that last slice of pie, and what type of chair they were seated in.  

While the design styles may look different, designers today are elevating those kitchens of yesteryear, utilizing more flexible space, and offering new ways to integrate the cooking process into the at-home dining experience while creating plenty of memories along the way.

With the popularity of open-concept floorplans still on the rise, the labor of preparing and cooking food is no longer relegated to behind closed doors but rather incorporated into the process. Memories are often made throughout the process of preparing a meal together or while simply keeping the cook company as they get everything ready.

“Larger islands are even more popular as they are a bigger workspace and a great place to be able to sit and eat a meal or have a glass of wine while chatting with the cook,” said Werner.

Installing multifunctional islands can help home chefs maximize kitchen space for prepping and entertaining. Such as Las Vegas-based ESG Gallery’s offerings. Take its SapienStone as an option to elevate kitchen counters. These beautiful porcelain slabs are crafted from a proprietary blend of ceramic clays and mineral colorings. They are uniquely resistant to heat, making them perfect for discrete induction cooking, using an invisible induction plate placed directly under the countertop. This creates a seamless extended working space that can double as additional prep space when not in use.

But for those homeowners who really need more space to entertain at home, adding a second island for friends and family to gather around while one remains dedicated to cooking can be both sleek and practical. One serves as a workhorse while the other can be filled with appetizers and drinks or even serve as a “chef’s table” at home. 

While Werner echoes that clean lines and functional stone countertops are still popular among home interiors, keeping those spaces, which are perhaps being used more than ever before, looking their best is also a priority in curating a well-appointed space at home.

“We are seeing trends with leather on barstools to make them easy to keep clean, as well as armless [stools] as people are tired of swivel chairs with scratched arms or damaged countertops.”  - Werner

By trading the large, clunky barstools so often found in the early 2000s with sleeker counterparts that easily tuck under the lip of the bar, homeowners can also create the illusion of a larger room.

But one of the easiest and most transformative ways to elevate a space is by changing up the lighting fixtures. Incorporating different shapes, materials, and levels of lighting can completely alter the look and feel of a space, particularly in the kitchen, where basic functional lighting often comes standard.

“Kitchen lighting is a great way to add an organic feel to the kitchen,” said Werner.

Swapping out the lighting to an elegant fixture or something that creates a warmer feel can make a room feel more finished and welcoming. Adding lights at different heights by placing table lamps on other furniture elements, including buffets and sideboards, can also provide depth and dimension within a space.

Ultimately, space and comfort are paramount in curating a kitchen and dining space that feels elevated and inviting— a space where one truly wants to spend time cooking or dining. Being able to comfortably host a gathering of friends and family, large or small, to create memories together is the ultimate goal. While walls can’t always be moved to create larger rooms, incorporating furniture and design choices that flex, when needed, can help maximize the space.

“As we all know, meals are an important part of family and friends, said Werner. “Tables that accommodate any size group are always a plus. Many tables these days have self-storage leaves, so they are easy to use and do not take up any space.”

After all, nothing feels elevated about getting sent to the dreaded “kid's table” or being forced to balance a plate filled with food while sitting on a couch.  

Cooking at home, surrounded by friends and family, much like beautifully designed and well-appointed spaces, is about spreading joy and creating lasting memories that can be treasured for generations.

Businesses featured in this article