Anna Barnett’s guide to optimising your kitchen for experimentation

A woman standing behind a counter in a kitchen.

The London-based member and cook on how to turn a functional space into the most welcoming room in the house

Images courtesy of Anna Barnett    Thursday 7 May, 2020   Short read

If there’s one thing that’s giving us all some joy right now, it’s food. This is particularly the case for cook, author and member Anna Barnett, who recently took over @sohohouse for a live cook-along of her spin on the White City House favourite, Big Max Fried Rice.  

When your kitchen is your creative workspace and most popular restaurant, the design and organisation of the space is crucial to inspire culinary inventiveness and true enjoyment of food. ‘When you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s important to make it an inspirational space,’ says Barnett. ‘We often think of kitchens and cooking as purely functional, but they’re also somewhere you can get creative and have fun.’

Here, Barnett shares her tips for how to optimise your kitchen for experimenting, indulging and – eventually – entertaining.
A yellow chair.
A sink underneath some shelves.
Use an editor’s eye
‘I like to curate my workspace so that I have a few things around to inspire me – whether that’s art, vases of flowers, bowls of fruit and vegetables I want to use, a cookbook turned to a favourite recipe or piles of fresh linen. Just make sure everything is pretty enough to have on show.’
A kitchen.
Make it social
‘Create a nice spot for companions to perch while you cook. Cooking doesn’t have to be a solitary activity – it’s nice to have people around you, and when you’re spending hours labouring away (over sourdough or a banana bread), it’s a must.’

Keep it on display

‘Your pans, bowls, vases and glassware dress up perfectly as decorative shelf-ware. I find that if you keep things out on display, rather than shut away in a cupboard, you’ll use them more. If you have limited space, rotate things to remind you of what you’ve got.’
Asparagus on a plate.
A bowl of lemons next to potatoes and flowers.
Don’t skimp on presentation
‘I’m all for relaxed family-style dining. Whether there’s two or 10 of you, make your kitchen counter a centre-piece for entertaining. Beautiful bowls and serving platters are perfect for that informal dining experience, and food always looks so much better served on a beautiful dish. It’s a great way to elevate any meal.’