So, surprise, I love welcoming friends into my living space to share great food and participate in lively conversations! In many ways, my home is an extension of myself. When people come over, I want them to feel comfortable and well cared for – my home is a place to kick off your shoes, laugh loudly, and forget the worries of your day. Here are some of Entertaining Family’s design tips that can turn any space into a “warm hug” – it doesn’t matter if your personal style is modern, traditional, or eclectic.
Your home’s exterior is the first greeting that guests receive, so use your walkway to say something special about you.
Think about the homes you pass that have brightly painted doors, sculptural planter boxes, little free libraries….these elements begin to tell a story about the home owners…and you kinda wanna peek inside, right?
When you see my house, it shares a few things about me: 1.) I love color! My house is green and red for crying out loud – and what you find on the outside most certainly continues throughout my home. 2.) I am not formal or traditional – I like to go against the grain. For example, our landscapers removed a typical grass lawn to make way for a wild, beautiful rain garden (you can read more about it here) that reflects our laid-back lifestyle. 3.) I have an artistic flare. From the stone wall in front of our home to the recycled fence along our garden, I enjoy creative statements that make people pause and think.
Most importantly, when people walk up my front stairs, I want them to feel relaxed and at home.
Your entryway draws guests in to the rest of your home. Use colors, textiles, artwork, and lighting to create a warm, inviting space.
I love to play with the juxtaposition of old and new, bright color and absence of color, and pattern and texture. In this way, my entryway is a preview to the rest of the house. This important space is also the transition area to my dining room, which I consider the heart of our home. I use lighting, artwork, and textiles that move guests through the entry and into the party.
Artwork sets your space apart from all others: Find pieces that speak to your unique aesthetic.
I love to be surrounded by artwork. My favorite pieces are the ones that have been created by family and friends, some of them are shown below. I’ve created some works as well! The piece that hangs in our lower entryway (pictured on the far left) was a drawing that I completed in 2003. For years, it was in my husband’s ad agency office, but when his firm went through a major construction project he brought it home.…never to return again.
Spend time making your dining room special. Create a space where friends will want to spend hours sharing stories, food, and wine.
Without a doubt, our dining room table is the center of our home. Intimate family dinners and large social gatherings are all focused around this antique piece of furniture that has been passed down from one generation to the next. Throughout the week, the table is set for our little family…but for large dinners (or elaborate buffets) it grows to comfortably seat 12 guests.
The room itself is adorned with a beautiful shell chandelier that casts soft light on the table and ceiling. The space is filled with artwork and antiques, and the lyre back chairs have been upholstered and re-upholstered to keep up with the evolution of our home. Our table is always decorated with a centerpiece, pretty dishes, and glasses that change to reflect the seasons. I don’t want it to feel like an ordinary table, I want it to feel like an occasion to celebrate.
Create “work stations” in your kitchen so you can invite guests to help you prep and cook.
Most of our dinner parties start in the kitchen….so I always have something yummy simmering on the stove and music playing when my guests arrive. My husband and I have tried to plan our kitchen so multiple people can be working at once – a couple of friends stationed at the island, someone working over the stove, someone using a cutting board on the counter….you get the point. My kitchen is going to undergo a big makeover in 2016 – I’ll document it all here – new flooring, lighting, tile, and more. In the meantime, the space that we have to work with now is inviting, efficient, and easy to maneuver.
Be playful when personalizing your space. Decorate with things you love that are perfectly, well, you.
When my husband and I bought our 1896 Victorian, we were so excited to make the space our own. We tried to pay homage to the age and tradition of the house, while letting our unique personalities shine through. The way we display our collections, the textiles and colors we use…these things are special to us, and they weave together the narrative of our lives. When friends come over, I want them to leave feeling like they know us better than when they walked in the door.
Your home tells your story. When guests come in, they should have a greater appreciation for who you are, what you love, and how you live. That sense of intimacy and sharing is the “warm hug” that should surround your guests when they enter your space. I hope this post will help you make it happen! Remember, don’t be afraid to break the rules you grew up with, always be yourself, and have fun creating your home!