The big question: Do you design your home for the way you live daily, or the way it should function when guests arrive? Late at night, as I began this advice commentary, I absent-mindedly dictated this first sentence as a question to Siri. Her answer? “I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to that question!”
Forget Siri. The answer to this looming question is: both.
To all hosts out there, one should design a home to phenomenally support the best daily living AND how it must flex to assist with fabulous parties, large and small, that are important as well. Some helpful design ideas to consider about the topic of hosting follow.
The Dining Room:
Few dining rooms are 100% comfortable with 22 bodies inside. If building a dream home with the objective of having a dining room perfectly comfortable for 22 bodies, go wider and longer. But, accept the fact that by doing this, one could end up with a space that feels cavernous when hosting intimate gatherings of six to eight.
A solution for that oversized dining room is opting for twin round tables that cantilever open for an easy crowd of 20-plus. For smaller sit downs, only one table is set for dining, while the other is set as a dessert or appetizer buffet.
If too little space is an issue, don’t ignore the sideboard when having table pads cut. A custom sideboard pad with a pretty covering is a great way to use all available space for buffet serving, or to handle overflow from the table. One also can select a stone-topped sideboard, so in that case, no pad needed.
Flex Seating From Dining to Living Spaces:
Flex seating is a great inclusion in any home design. In that twin table dining room, there is a break-apart custom bench that separates for extra seating when needed, in any room.
Try upholstered ottomans stowed beneath a sofa console table. They can be pulled out and perched on by junior members when larger crowds gather.
Ottomans can be used in tight living room spaces that prohibited additional chairs, yet can accommodate two ottomans floated easily near a fireplace or at the coffee table. Best, most comfy seats in the house? No. Functional. overflow seating, yes.
For any diehard entertainer, design spaces that consider open space versus seating zones. For families who do a lot of fundraising or volunteer-related entertaining, retractable walls are a great solution in the warmer months. For those living in a four-season climate, unlike Bucks County, they can open the walls and guests easily drift outdoors.
And what to do if a home is not of the many thousands-of-square-feet ilk? As ever, embrace and love the home that you are lucky enough to have – what a blessing.
Above all, remember that perfect holiday entertaining happens because of this one thing: Create a space that is authentically beautiful to you -- one that has harmonious rhythms and handsome appointments -- and guests will feel that love and grace when they are in that space with you. Remember that guests who love you as much as you do them won’t mind sandwiching into the middle seat on the sofa, or getting the folding chair at the table.
Cheers to you and your loved ones this holiday season and beyond. May your home’s beauty overflow to spill loveliness into your life, your daily round and envelop those you love.
About Donna Hoffman: As a multiple award-winning Bucks County-based designer, Donna's company -- Interiors by Donna Hoffman -- specializes in new construction, renovation, whole home and full room design, delivering "livable luxury to discerning clients." Industry-leading media sources have called Donna a design thought leader. Referenced as the nation’s No. 1 design coach because she founded TheInteriorDesignAdvocate.com, Donna also loves providing online courses that empower DIYers across the country. IDH has garnered 14 Designer of the Year awards from the International Design Society and American Society of Interior Design.