Open Floor Plan

How to Create a Home for Entertaining

No matter how often you entertain, it’s always great to have a home designed to get the most out of a party. If you’re buying a home, here are features to consider if you plan to entertain regularly.

Great curb appeal

Your guest’s first impression of your house is the outside. Is there enough room for parking? Do you have good lighting from the street to the porch? Is your walkway smooth and free of cracks and potholes people might trip over? If your walkway involves stairs, is narrow or has other minor obstacles, you can add lighting, landscaping and maybe a second walkway to improve it.

A covered front porch or entryway

No one wants to stand in the rain or snow while waiting for someone to answer the door. If you don’t have a covered front porch, consider investing in a portable structure or tent you can deploy for parties. Don’t forget to string lights around it to make it more festive.

home for entertaining Foyer

A large entry hall or foyer

People often arrive in groups – which can cause a jam at the front door. Make sure you have a large enough entryway for your guests to stand, remove coats, and make the usual greetings, etc. Having a small table where they can place gifts, drinks, bags, and other items temporarily while removing their coats is always an added bonus.

A place for umbrellas, boots, and other wet items

Winter and spring entertaining can mean rain and snow and coats and boots dripping water on your floor. Don’t be afraid to lay down plastic protection (think thick ply painter’s plastic or a brightly colored tarp taped to the floor with contrasting colored duct tape). This can protect your wood or carpeted floor and guests will understand! Include good quality mats where they can wipe their shoes as well, and an umbrella stand or plastic umbrella bags where they can put their umbrellas. It’s a wise investment if you live and entertain in a wet climate.

A coat closet or a place to put a coat stand

Many hosts pile their guests’ coats on the bed in their guest room. This can cause things in pockets to fall out, and it makes it hard for early birds to leave because of the mountain of coats on top of theirs. Rolling coat stands can be purchased for as little as $15 or $20 at retailers. Put them in the entryway (if you have a large entryway), or in a spare bedroom. Most parties only require a couple of stands.

home for entertaining Open Floor Plan

Plenty of seating space

Whether it’s multiple couches, individual chairs, or benches, make sure there’s enough floor space to seat everyone – even if you only bring out folding chairs. Make sure there’s enough room for people to stand and move about freely as well.

Open floor concept

The more open your home’s floor plan, the more flexibility you’ll have in creating seating arrangements, tables, and a buffet. While many guests like to gather in the kitchen to talk with the cook/host, having a table set up in the middle of an open floor plan can move a lot of traffic out of the kitchen and into the rest of the house.

A walk-in pantry

The thing about parties is you’re going to need more plates, platters, glasses, and more everything! A walk-in pantry is a great place to store extra supplies, cases of soda, water, or drinks.

A wine cellar, or wet bar

You can buy a home with these features, or convert a closet or corner into a place where you can keep wine, alcohol, ice, and soda. It’s not a must-have unless your entertainment style dictates it. Consider creating a mobile bar you can store in the garage or spare room and bring out for parties.

home for entertaining Patio

A first-floor bathroom or bathrooms

Depending on the size of your parties, it’s nice to have one and a half bathrooms on the ground floor. It makes it easier for guests to find and use, and keeps people from wandering around your upstairs. Stock plenty of toilet paper, a basket of paper towels, a soap dispenser, etc. as well. A bathroom with plenty of counter space for setting down a clutch, purse, etc. is always welcomed.

Indoor-outdoor flow

People like to step outside for a smoke, for fresh air, a walk, to get away from the noise and bustle of the party. Make your parties popular by having a good indoor to outdoor flow – like a sliding glass door that opens onto a deck, yard, patio, or another area with seating (again, a tent or portable gazebos work well), and even an outdoor heater or fireplace, or other focal point. It can get warm inside a home with a lot of guests – so the alternative of a cooler setting outside is nice. If your entertaining takes place outdoors, like a BBQ, all the better.

A yard, deck, patio, or outdoor feature that can hold all, or most of your guests

If you’re a casual sort, you may enjoy throwing most of your parties outside. That means you need a lawn, a large deck or patio area, and room for people to mingle. Look for a fenced-in yard for privacy, and a place to have a fire-pit, patio, and seating for your guests.

You don’t have to have all these features, but if you entertain a lot and you’re buying a new home, it’s a good idea to decide which features you’d most like to have and look for them while house hunting. Happy partying!

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Becky Blanton is a full-time ghostwriter and writing coach for Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, and business speakers. In 2009 she spoke at TED Global at Oxford University, her first ever public speaking gig. When she's not writing, she's kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. Her dream home is to live aboard a sailing or houseboat.

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