Design Dilemma: Designing to Entertain
Holiday season is here, which meansÂ that many of us are looking around our homes (sometimes in disgust) and thinking about how to make it work for entertaining. Some places don’t call for much… Any place with an open floor plan and a decent-sized dining room can be a great place to throw a party.Â But what happens if you have a warren of rabbit hutch rooms that are small, oddly-shaped and far, far away from the kitchen? What if you don’t have a dining room? Well, then you’ve got a challenge.
1) If you don’t have a dining room… Think multifunctional. Invest inÂ Â furniture that can help you when you’re hosting the office Christmas party or that wild New Year’s Eve bash. Excellent multifunctional pieces include coffee tables that can rise up to dining height,Â hallway consoles that can do double duty as buffet tablesÂ or drink stations, and gateleg and drop leaf side tables that can serve as formal dining room tables when the need arises. If that sounds like too much furniture, invest in simple floor pillows that can stand in for extra seating around your coffee table.
2) If you don’t have an open space… Create something similar byÂ puttingÂ a little bit of everything in one room. SetÂ up a table for food, another for drinks, several sitting areas, perhaps a dining table, Â in the largest room in your house in a way that will encourage people to mix and mingle in that space. Togetherness is what it’s all about.
3.) If you don’t want guests hanging out in your tiny galley kitchen…Spread drinks and hors d’oeuvres throughout the house to encourage people to mingle and move around.
4.) If you don’t have party-friendly flooring… If you’ve got carpet, invest in some stain remover before the party begins to handle the inevitable accident. If you have tile floors with grout, make sure it’s been sealed before you get your groove on.Â Fruit punch, wine andÂ your brother-in-law’s rum concoctionÂ will stain grout, even when household cleaners will fix the tile.
And what is our list of the top design elements conducive to entertaining?
— An open floor plan. We noticed a dramatic difference in parties when we moved to a space with the kitchen attached to a sizeable dining room and a good-sized living room. Parties livened up and hostingÂ becameÂ much more fun because we could actually interact with our guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen all night.
—Hardwood floors. Sure, drinks may be spilled, but what do you care?
—Lights on a dimmer switch. Creating a cozy party atmosphere is easy with dimmer switches on chandeliers, recessed lights and track lights.
— A sizeable foyer. A huge closet for coats, a nice long bench for taking shoes off during the snowy season, and a place for dropping umbrellas, purses, keys, etc. makes arrivals and departures easy.
—Kitchen islands. When you don’t haveÂ one you may not miss it, but when you do, you’ll be amazed at how well it functions as a drink/food station during a party.
—Microfiber and leather furniture. A damp sponge takes care of most spills, so the host can relax.
Image: Sarah Kate Gillingham Ryan