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9 Design Tips for the Ultimate At-Home Entertaining Space

Whatever the season, it’s always a good time for a celebration. But hosting isn’t just about decorating and food prep. It’s also about the space you have inside and outside your house and how it’s laid out. Some would-be hosts completely avoid inviting people over because they feel they don’t have the right set up. 

You don’t have to do a full remodel to throw a party. A little creative thinking and you might be able to pivot your house to work perfectly for some at-home entertaining. Here are nine key concepts that help you create the ultimate entertaining space with or without the remodel. 

 

Open format living and kitchen area filled with comfortable furnishings and interesting decor.

Open Floor Plan 

The open floor plan is the most conducive layout for entertaining. It makes the kitchen, dining room, living room all one wall-less space where it’s easy for guests (and their hosts) to socialize, munch, cook, relax, and gather. 

The open floor plan generally has better air circulation and lighting, plus it accommodates large groups easily. On the other hand, open floor plans can be echo-y and your friends can easily spend the evening alone in a crowd. If you have an open floor plan, fill the space with plenty of softer textures like rugs, drapery, furniture, etc. to dampen the noise. It’s also a good idea to create smaller zones within the room that give guests different areas to congregate into smaller groups. 

If you don’t have an open floor plan, you can still have large parties, you just need to be prepared to open multiple rooms to guests. Though you won’t have as much capability to gather as one large group, you have built in smaller gathering spaces and much less opportunity for echos. Encourage mingling through the different spaces by serving different food items or having different activities in each room. 

 

Large bright kitchen with tin tile tray ceiling.
Pattern #14 in Artisan Silver Washed White

 

Kitchen Perks 

What’s a party without snacks? This often makes the kitchen the center of the celebration, which means it needs to be ready for all kinds of entertaining. The island can be a buffet and bar all in one and is readily accessible for all your guests without them getting in your way in the kitchen.  

As the night goes on, you don’t want things piling up for everyone to see. A dishwasher (or two) is excellent for keeping party mess out of sight. The oven or a warming oven keeps hot hors d’oeuvres at the ready. Throwing extra boxes of crackers and bags of chips into a pantry allows you to keep things stocked without having extra sitting out on the countertop. 

 

Simple butler's pantry with cabinetry, countertops, and appliances.

Butler’s Pantry 

Closely related to a kitchen full of perks, the butler’s pantry is a dream when entertaining. A butler's pantry is a small room or countertop not directly in the kitchen (but near it) that provides some excellent prep and staging space.  

The butler’s pantry is perfect for serving multi-course dinners or having extra food prepared as a backup on a buffet. Unlike a standard pantry, the butler’s pantry has countertops and cabinets. It can also include sinks, ovens, appliances, and be a miniature second kitchen that’s out of sight of your entertaining space.  

 

Basement entertaining space with red tin tile on the ceiling and a pool table in the center.Pattern #6 in Custom Color

Basement 

That neglected basement you’re using for random storage is primed and ready to become your dream entertaining space. Many a humble basement has undergone the transformation from dingy and dark to stellar basement bar.  

For a winning basement entertaining space, consider the many benefits of tin ceiling tile. Metallics reflect light, which enhances a traditionally dark space. The embossed pattern adds texture and interest with a speakeasy bar vibe. Take a closer look at the many colors and patterns that could define the design of your basement. 

 

Pool table in the center of a large entertaining space with rustic design and comfortable seating.Pattern #7 in Brushed Satin Nickel

Fun Zone 

Don’t forget to add items of interest or even games to your space to attract those who like to socialize in different ways. A pool table, foosball table, chess or checkers set, or puzzle are great draws that allow for fun that goes beyond food and conversation. 

Other items of interest like a fireplace, piece of art, antiques, and collections can be great conversation starters too. They do double duty because they are both aesthetic and items with entertainment value that bring people together.  

 

Dining room suitable for entertaining with tin ceilings and a large chandelier.Pattern #6 in Custom Color

Lighting 

The lighting you select for your home is like a little black dress that is a functional staple of your everyday life but can be dressed up for special occasions. Chandeliers, dimmers, and plenty of accent lighting can shift the mood to the party atmosphere with the flip of a switch.  

Accent lighting is especially important when it comes to at-home entertaining spaces. Consider under-cabinet lighting for the kitchen, spotlights for art, sconces for the foyer, architectural lighting over the dining table and island, or some colored lighitng to add interest and flavor to your entertaining space.

 

Open format living and dining area with lots of different seating for all occasions.
Pattern #19 in  Rustic Copper Translucent

Seating 

That you need lots of seating for a party is obvious, but what might not be as obvious are the many ways you can incorporate seating to solve both functional and aesthetic problems. In an open format space, use seating to create zones that work as separators into more traditional arrangements. For instance, large sofas for the living room area, dining chairs around the table, stools at the island for a bar vibe, and a few arm or club chairs for a little corner vignette tete-a-tete.  

You can add even more seating inconspicuously by adding benches or ottomans in front of a fireplace or the TV. They keep the space feeling continuous because they have no backs but also provide extra seating when needed. 

 

Spacious white foyer with a large rug on wood floors.

Foyer 

Often overlooked as a necessary part of a home designed for entertaining, the foyer welcomes your guests and provides a transition from one environment to another, literally and figuratively. A good foyer should offer places to stow shoes, bags, and coats but also leave them readily accessible to guests to retrieve when they need them.  

They say there’s nothing like a first impression and the same goes for your house. The front porch and foyer are the first impressions your house offers and they should be an inviting taste of what’s to come. In both design and décor, this foremost part of the house deserves your attention. 

 

Large powder room with bright colors and varied patterns. Also features tin ceiling.
Pattern #29 in Custom Color

Powder Room

Another necessary part of a great at-home entertaining design is the powder room. All you really need for the powder room is a sink and toilet but if you have a more functional half bath, that will work too. The bottom line is to create a restroom that’s 100% focused on guests. 

Depending on the type of parties you throw, you may simply need a functional yet elegant space that continues with the ambiance of your layout. Or you may need something that offers a few convenience items for guests.  

Consider the design of your powder room carefully. As one of the smallest spaces (and maybe only enclosed space), you can really go all out with the powder room. Create a place of luxury that will make your guests feel pampered.  

 

Outdoor space with a lighted pergola and comfortable seating.

Inside Out 

Many homes, especially those focused on entertaining, include a seamless flow from the indoors to the outdoors and a backyard that’s just as comfortable and stylish as the house. Spend just as much time updating the backyard as you do the house if your soirees tend to move outdoors. Large retracting glass walls or doors are an excellent way to invite guests to use both spaces.  

No matter how much space you have outdoors or how intricate a space you build out, keep your focus on three things to keep your outdoor space comfortable: lighting, protection, and what's underfoot.  

Include plenty of lighting so you can enjoy your space long after dark. Roof some areas so you are protected from the elements. Cover the ground with some sort of flooring to ensure it’s a space that’s just as accessible and comfortable as your indoor spaces. 

 

Ready to party? Make sure your home is too with a little prep that will put your guests at ease and make hosting so simple you’ll be ready to throw your next party anytime. 

 

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