Have you noticed that no matter the get-together—birthday party, Friendsgiving, or Sunday dinner with the in-laws—people always congregate in the kitchen? I have so many memories set against the backdrop of a bustling kitchen, from my big Catholic family hovering over foil-covered casserole dishes at my grandparents’ house to my girlfriends crowded around my countertop, catching up over a bottle of wine while dinner cooks in the oven.

Though I miss the buzzy energy that happens in the kitchen before a meal with family and friends, I’ve also come to appreciate the quieter traditions that have taken root during this period of social distancing. My kitchen is now the venue for Zoom cooking nights with my sisters, and the laboratory where my partner and I are mastering the art of making a great cup of coffee (thanks, Chemex). It’s also where I’ve tried countless new recipes to decompress after a long day or simply to pass the time on an idle afternoon.

In this issue, you’ll find a handful of hardworking kitchens that beautifully blend form and function while accommodating lively gatherings and those more intimate moments. And if the heart of your home is in need of a face-lift or a total overhaul, our expert sources offer design ideas and inspiration (“Recipes For (Reno) Success,”) as well as perked-up kitchen essentials (“Not-So-Basic Basics,”) to help you transform your cooking space into a place that guests will gravitate toward for years to come.