Designing For Today And Holiday Entertaining

Advice Editorial: Three Rules For Being Prepared For Guests

Design lovers always have been pained to create homes to “love living in and coming home to." Yet, as the pandemic shifted most of us to even greater home use, for both work and play, more attention is being paid to designing for today, and for entertainment. 

With the holidays nearing, here are three rules to guide the next design project with an eye toward designing for year-round enjoyment and for when crowds gather. 

No. 1: Design by thinking of intimacy and expansion at the same time.

“Large size” homeowners are surprised when oversized dream rooms present challenges for cozy daily living. “Modest size” homeowners are sometimes frustrated by rooms that easily support comfort and intimacy, but may not accommodate crowds.

Regardless of a room’s size, daily living requires intimately connected seating zones. Nobody wants to use a bullhorn to be able to talk to the person sitting on the nearest club chair. 

Designing with distinct seating zones, and more than one if a room so requires, ensures both comfort for a shared Friday night cocktail between spouses, as it does ensure space expansion at holiday time. It’s perfectly alright for a large room to have an unused zone when it’s not in, “’large-crowd-use."

The large great room showcased in this article boasts high ceilings and generous square footage. It requires two distinctly different seating zones for intimacy, each cozy in its own right, but used together wonderfully hosting a large extended family or more.

For smaller-scaled spaces, include double duty furnishings, such as movable ottomans tucked beneath a console table or handsome nearby upholstered dining chairs that easily can be pulled into a space for expanded seating. 

No 2: Design specialty spaces to indulge passions, then share them at holiday time.

Mixologist at heart? A fantastic specialty space, such as a bar or wine room, is an ideal choice. Movie lover? A home theater or integrated media room is in the cards. Love gaming? A tricked-out game room or billiards room to enjoy on any given Friday night, but easily a hot ticket for entertainment, follows the same double-duty logic. Design spaces around personal passions and know that they will “share well” when guests enjoy them with their gracious hosts at holiday time and beyond. 

No. 3: Juggle seating needs to accommodate reclining or crowds.

Extra-long, extra-deep sofas provide year-round comfort and are equally prized when entertaining. Equally so, movable seating like ottomans, custom beanbag chairs or barstools at a console also can act as overflow seating as shown in the integrated media room highlighted in this article.

The other important consideration for dual-duty spaces is the deliberate use of hard-wearing fabrics that stand up to toddlers or red wine. Thanks to the significant improvement to indoor-outdoor fabric, this is easily done. These fabrics may cost up to 30% more than a similar home fabric, but for carefree hosting and daily living, the price may be right. 

In the end, designing first with consideration to daily use and enjoyment needs is the wise starting point. From there, consider the ideal entertainment needs. Together, these will help point the way to spaces that serve multiple masters.

As a multi-award-winning interior designer, Donna's company, Impeccably Designed Homes, specializes in high-end, luxury interior design, from single room design to whole homes of 20,000 square feet and more; from decorative design to full scale renovation and new construction. 


Donna Hoffman

Donna is a design thought leader in Forbes, Real Simple, TV and radio. She's also called the "nation’s No. 1 design coach," after founding TheInteriorDesignAdvocate.com online courses that empower DIYers and design professionals internationally.

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