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A Messy Kitchen

For Carefree Entertaining

The kitchen may well be the heart of the home, but when it comes to entertaining, you don’t want your guests mingling amongst your used pans and dirty dishes. James McDonald, senior designer with OBMI, has a solution to this common problem: a messy kitchen.

Today’s homeowners often dream of an open plan kitchen with sleek cabinetry and beautiful stone countertops that flows seamlessly into the dining room or living room – but the reality of trying to cook, serve food and stack the dishwasher in full view of your dinner guests may not be so elegant.

“As an architect, it’s my job to determine what can be done to conceal the chaos – essentially giving you the best of both worlds. One of my favourite solutions to this challenge is the integration of a 'messy kitchen' into the home’s design,” McDonald says.

A messy kitchen is a service and storage room usually located between a kitchen and a dining room. The multi-functional space keeps food preparation, storage and cleaning out of sight, leaving your ‘formal’ kitchen mess-free. It works particularly well in open plan layouts and provides a better entertaining and dining experience for both hosts and guests.


Even if its job is to contain the mess, these secondary kitchen spaces need to be carefully planned. Decide how, exactly, you wish to use the space: is it just for storage; a place to wash the dishes; or do you want to cook in there as well? List everything, from appliances to plates, platters and odd-shaped items, that you want to keep in your messy kitchen, so that your architect can make sure everything has its home and you have all the electrical and plumbing connections you will need.


Messy kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, starting with simple butler’s pantries all the  way up to full chef’s kitchens.

The multiuse pantry – a modern take on the traditional butler’s pantry – is typically a small space that serves as an extension of the kitchen and is primarily used for storing kitchen essentials and to provide an extra space for preparing food, out of sight of guests. Butler’s pantries work best when designed in close proximity to the main kitchen and dining room, so that they are easily accessible. If you are renovating an existing home, rather than building a new one, a pantry can often be created where a closet or hallway once stood.

As space and budget increase, more and more of your kitchen functions can be tucked away, ensuring your main kitchen remains clean, uncluttered and elegant.

As the pantry concept grows, you will probably want to add a sink and dishwasher so that dirty plates can be whisked off the table and right ouWords by James McDonald, Senior Designer OBMIt of sight. “Most clients also request the addition of an extra oven or a built-in microwave to accommodate the large dinner parties they plan to host,” the architect adds. Beyond that, some homeowners will add a separate fridge for drinks or a wine cooler.

At the other end of the spectrum, a fully-fledged messy kitchen frequently has all the same appliances and features as the ‘public’ kitchen, but appliances and finishes don’t necessarily need to be top-of-the-line as they are not on show.

For avid entertainers who don’t have the time or inclination to cook themselves, a personal chef is often the answer. If that is the case, the messy kitchen should be planned and equipped so that the chef has  all the space he or she will need to prep, cook and plate up.

Regardless of size, working with your architect to define your needs for a butler’s pantry, messy kitchen or even full chef’s kitchen, will ensure your open plan kitchen remains a pristine gathering and entertaining area of your home, keeping the mess of a kitchen out of sight and out of mind.

To learn more, visit www.obmi.com

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