While building their retirement dream home on Wisconsin's Door Peninsula, Dan and Katie Doerr knew they wanted to focus their attention on the kitchen.
"You know how it is," Dan says. "Everyone congregates in the kitchen. We wanted ours to be just as comfortable as any sitting room or den."
To provide space for a big family (with six grandkids) and friends, their open kitchen includes a butler's pantry, a breakfast banquette with a raised fireplace and a large dining table that overlooks the water.
This and the following slides show 12 ways the Doerrs' kitchen is perfect for entertaining.
One: The breakfast nook's fireplace stands 30 inches off the floor, making it visible throughout the kitchen (left). The nook's floor, raised 8 inches, acts as an "observation deck" for lake views.
Builder: Great Northern Construction, Tom Birmingham (920/868-3611)
Two: A key decision in the design: installing two islands. "When you have one big island, it often becomes an obstacle in the middle," says the Doerrs' kitchen designer, Dan McFadden.
Two islands make food preparation easy for the host couple. One has a prep sink for washing and chopping produce. The other island's six-burner range has two ovens and a removable griddle (great for big breakfasts). A nearby warming drawer keeps multiple courses ready for serving.
Three: The 48-inch-wide aisles leave room for guests and cooks to mingle. (Recently updated guidelines raised the recommended width from 36 to 42 inches for an aisle with one cook.)
Kallista (prep sink) 
Four: Party cleanup is quick with a double-basin apron sink (that handles large pots) and two dishwasher drawers that separate fine glassware from dirty pans. Running just one saves energy on daily loads for the homeowners.
Five: A built-in, cherry-stained hutch recesses 15 inches into the wall so it doesn't intrude on workspace. The focal-point furniture piece corrals dishes, silverware and napkins in one spot for accessibility.
Six: A walk-through butler's pantry eases traffic flow and offers guests access to the self-serve beverage center. And when everyone at the party ends up in the kitchen, this congregating spot keeps guests out of the hosts' main work area. The arched opening you see here mimics the curves elsewhere in the kitchen, including an arched doorway on the right, which offers another entrance to the pantry.
Seven: The butler's pantry features a wine bar with built-in bottle storage, glass racks and a raised wine chiller. At left, Katie Doerr pours a glass of Chardonnay.
The pantry also stores small appliances out of sight, keeping the main kitchen neat. (Dirty dishes at dinner parties often hide here, too.) High cabinets display collectibles behind decorative divided-light glass doors.
Design details throughout the kitchen suit the home's 1920s cottage style. Warm black-walnut floors and teak countertops recall classic sailing yachts and contrast with the white-painted beaded-board cabinetry. Vintage-look latches and crescent-shape pulls add to the kitchen's charm.
Eight: A long, narrow custom-built oak dining table seats eight to 10 people. The 38x120-inch piece is just wide enough for place settings and candles, ensuring that meals and conversations stay intimate. The nearby island acts as a buffet-style sideboard.
Nine: French doors lead to a screen porch for outdoor dining, while transoms fill the dining area with sunlight.
Eleven: The pantry's bar sink helps with beverage serving. Water-resistant teak countertops add warmth to the white kitchen, but require a monthly coating of mineral oil to preserve the natural look. Sealed wood offers less maintenance.
Twelve: Refrigerated beverage drawers below the wine chiller encourage guests to help themselves, while keeping the crowd out of the cooking area.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® March/April 2009.)