Let Me Entertain You
by Tegan Lyon
There is something so enticing about hosting a gathering or throwing a party from the comfort of your own home. Making your abode the perfect setting for entertaining doesn’t happen overnight – it starts with the design. Here, Office Manager for Green Design Homes, Gemma Green, discusses emerging design trends in modern homes and how to tailor your living spaces around a social lifestyle.
The modern home design is less rigid than its classic counterparts, favouring multifunctional spaces over segregated living quarters. These multifunctional zones are integral in cultivating a home that is conducive to entertaining.
COMPLIMENTS TO THE CHEF
The kitchen is no longer a small space tucked away in the corner of a property. Now, the kitchen stands proudly as the centrepiece of the modern home. Green refers to an island bench and butler’s pantry as must-have features for an entertainment-friendly design. Expansive island benches continue to dominate contemporary kitchen designs, offering a practical cooking station and an informal dining area perfect for drinks, nibbles and socialising. “I have noticed an increasing trend of clients wishing to make their island benches more user friendly, with a view to it replacing the traditional dining table,” Green adds. This casual approach to dining is perfect for guests, and with enough seating, can accommodate a small soiree or the ultimate cheese and wine night. Homeowners can also install a stovetop and safety rangehood within the island bench for simultaneous cooking and entertaining.
While a kitchen should promote socialising, it should also be functional. An entertainment-worthy abode should focus as much on what guests don’t see, so ample cabinetry and storage options should be installed in the kitchen to avoid clutter. “A butler’s pantry provides [homeowners] with additional preparation space and a place to store dishes when entertaining,” Green says. If building a butler’s pantry is not an option, homeowners can also achieve greater storage by building recessed shelves at either end of the island bench to store alcohol or other display items.
AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP
The modern home design has evolved beyond structured rooms in favour of open-plan spaces that combine kitchen, living and dining areas. Rather than constructing spaces dedicated to a singular purpose, open-plan living offers freedom in your home design. “If entertaining is your passion … an open plan living and dining area is a must,” Green says. The beauty of an open-plan design goes deeper than functionality; “It provides easy access and a smooth transition for guests from indoors to outdoors,” Green explains. Since there are no awkward transitions between zones, the design encourages easy mingling between guests and improved social interaction for visitors and family alike. Open-plan living also enables better supervision of young children.
Even with the numerous benefits of an open-plan design, there are practical factors that homeowners should consider. A sparse kitchen, living and dining area can appear too bare and clinical – the antithesis of a successful shindig. Conversely, overcluttered, busy zones can be a sensory overload for guests. These areas should feel open, but the spaces should be clearly defined. Rugs, wall furnishings, art dividers and buffets are the perfect ornaments to establish focal points within your home, and they also offer guests a sense of privacy in a party setting. “This may be in the form of a feature fireplace or feature lighting, which can create an inviting atmosphere,” Green echoes. A fireplace distinctly characterises a living area and generates warmth in a home, creating an inviting ambience for your guests to enjoy. Homeowners should be sure to factor in heating and cooling for an open-plan design. Fireplaces aside, heated floor ducts are a great way to quickly heat your room but can prove quite costly when the energy bill arrives. Ensure your home is well sealed and ventilated, hang drapes where you can and incorporate plush rugs into your living spaces.
ALL ABOUT ALFRESCO
If the modern-day kitchen is the entertainment hub of the home, then the outdoor dining area is hot on its heels. Outdoor living and barbecue areas are synonymous with Australian living, and builders are paying more attention than ever to these zones. As with open-plan living quarters, guests want to be able to move freely between indoor and outdoor dining areas. “Areas must have large stacker doors or bi-fold doors where possible,” Green explains. It’s this cohesiveness that is crucial in cultivating a social atmosphere. To make your alfresco even more enticing, Green suggests incorporating an outdoor firepit and built-in seating.
SET THE MOOD
Lighting might be an afterthought for some homeowners, but when employed correctly, it can set the perfect tone for your party or gathering. Green recommends utilising natural light wherever you can with skylights, highlight windows and glass sliding doors. “Skylights and large windows help open up the space and capture any nice views that might be enjoyed,” she says. For smaller blocks, natural light can even offer the illusion of more space. Now that you have daytime entertaining covered, it’s essential to select the right artificial light for entertaining in the evening. “The use of dimmers in large rooms or feature lighting such as pendants or lamps helps to create a nice atmosphere,” Green suggests.
MAINTENANCE AND UPKEEP
Being the chief host amongst your friends and family does have one major drawback; the clean-up. There’s no way to avoid it, but the right build features can help streamline the cleaning and maintenance of your home. Your kitchen and bathroom counters often bear the brunt of a great night with stains, scratches and spills. However, choosing a durable material for your countertops will aid in longevity. “Laminate benchtops are excellent for stain and scratch-resistant countertops in bathrooms and kitchens – and the quality and colour range is excellent,” Green says. For your interior floors, Green swears by timber-look vinyl floorboards, “They are hardwearing, low-maintenance and there is a colour to match any décor,” she says. When constructing your outdoor entertainment areas, timber decking or exposed aggregate are Green’s two preferences; both durable materials that can handle a lot of foot traffic.
There are countless ways homeowners can reinvent their abodes or imbue designs with features that are tailor-made for entertaining, but always put your preferences first and be inspired by the way you love to entertain.
Images courtesy of Green Design Homes