Design Dilemma: Preparing Your Home for the Holidays
Are you ready yet? We hope so, because the long holiday party season is just getting started. Most of us can expect to have at least one party in our home, and many of us may have several ranging from an intimate tete-a-tete of two to a gigantic blow-out holiday bash of hundreds.
The problem for many of us, however, is that our homes are not necessarily made for entertaining. Some of us have tiny digs, others have homes with small kitchens, non-existent dining rooms, inadequate living room space. Here are a few ideas to tackle the design issues that can make entertaining difficult:
1) You’ve got no dining room.
While sit down dinners at a proper dining table can be memorable, so too can dinners held in offbeat places. Try using your coffee table as a dining table. Add floor cushions, candles and atmospheric music and your guests will be charmed. Got a large foyer but no dining room? Consider turning your foyer into an impromptu dining room. Move the hallway console table to center stage and offer dinner right there. (Or invest in a folding table that you can set up and take down.) Again, add candles, music, lights on a string. Joila, a simple foyer becomes a magical dining space. If you’ve got an eat-in kitchen, use it. Dinner parties in kitchens can be convivial and warm. Consider ditching the overhead work lighting in favor of strategically-placed table lamps on countertops and in corners. The effect is instant warmth and coziness.
2) Your kitchen is tiny. Kitchens are the notorious gathering spaces of parties. For some reason, that’s where all the action is. If your kitchen is too small to take a center stage in your gathering, create that cozy place to gather by laying out a scrumptious buffet on any table that would seem to provide the perfect hub. This could be a dining table, the table behind your couch (see above), a coffee table, or a long and low entertainment center. The table idea works best when people can circulate around the entire perimeter.
3) Your lighting is harsh and overhead. Here’s a secret that most entertaining mavens already know: cozy, intimate, slightly dimmed lighting is key to creating a special party atmosphere. Overhead lights just don’t cut it. If you’ve only got an overhead fixture in your room, turn it off and bring in different sources of light. White lights on a string create an instant party feeling and can be strung up where ever you need them. If that sounds like too much work, bring in table lamps and place them strategically around the room for a soft lighting effect.
4) You’ve got high-end furniture that is delicate and you’re afraid of damage. A party won’t be fun for you if you can’t relax. If you’ve got high-end furnishings that make you nervous when guests arrive, simply rearrange your furniture placement in advance to keep your entertaining worry free. Pull up the white shag rug if you’re afraid of red wine spills, cover the white linen couch with a slipcover for the evening. Put away breakable heirlooms and any chairs, etc., that you know aren’t sturdy. Be sure to supply plenty of napkins all around your home and invest in a stain remover and spill cleaner (seltzer water for one) in advance.
5) Your space is small. Get creative! If your space feels too small with furniture arranged as it is, consider rearranging or moving out a few items to open up floor space. Don’t feel locked into your usual furniture placement. Maybe the couch would work better at the other end of the room, or the dining room table would work better as a buffet pushed up against the wall. Feel free to rearrange until your place functions best for the number of people you will be hosting.