By Jennifer Parker
I love entertaining. A house full of friends is one of my favorite things. When designing and building our home I kept this in mind and I wanted to create spaces that would accommodate all types of get togethers. The bar and butlers pantry area along with the large family table that is the center of our home creates a synergy for friends to gather. I am also a firm believer that decorating and designing for parties does not have to be overly complicated, although it’s always fun to go “over the top” when the occasion calls for it. How you decorate a table can set the tone for the event immediately. Using different spaces in your home, expected and unexpected, to entertain is a fun way to also bring an element of surprise for your guests and create movement within the gathering.
The heart of entertaining in our home is a space I designed as a beverage bar and a butlers pantry together. I felt the need for both but wanted to combine the spaces for a larger area and better function. The curve of the design in the room helps with the flow, and additionally I am a fan of unexpected curves in homes. They create movement and a classic elegance. In the design I knew I wanted lots of storage, but also function. If you know me, you know “function” always comes first. The first decision was to find a cabinet top this area that was different, functional and beautiful. As we settled on wood, we found a craftsman to custom make the wood cabinet tops. After a field trip to his workshop we picked out some beautiful wood pieces salvaged from large pickle vats in Kentucky that were used to make pickles back in the day. I love the grain and the depth of the wood, and also the occasional small drain holes in the pieces. I did not want it to look distressed, and also not new. The result was a timeless rich dark wood that brings a real warmth to the space.
The wood countertops also compliment the large wood beams in the floor and help balance the textures of the room. The Carerra marble tile backsplash add’s a touch of elegance and the glass fronted cabinets are perfect for displaying special entertaining items. The antique rug helps to warm the space and completes a pop of color in otherwise a neutral space. We use this area almost everyday in one way or another, but especially when entertaining. There is plenty of room to set up beverages for a party and also space on the buffet cabinet side to place appetizers and snacks. It was important to have a refrigerator and sink in this area for prepping drinks and food as well. The large drawers accommodate placemats, napkin rings, napkins, candles and all the other items needed for entertaining. The space is a “one stop shop” for the storage and also for the function of gatherings with friends and family.
In the very center of our home is a large round kitchen dining table that seats up to 10. Again I am a fan of circular items in spaces as they add to the movement and utilize space well. I also love eating and entertaining at a round table as I believe that it connects people in a different way that a standard rectangle. I have 10 chairs for the table but love to mix and match chairs for different occasions. For this setting, a more casual gathering with friends and family, I used upholstered and wood chairs. After the meal is cleared the round table is perfect for a rousing game of group Domino’s or Monopoly. I have various tablecloths for this table but when entertaining casually I like the actual wood table on it’s own. The dark grain of the wood and the inlaid pattern are beautifully decrotive on their own. This also allows for a more casual feel, and spotlight the centerpiece. Speaking of centerpieces, my pet peeve is one that guests have to dodge around while eating and visiting with friends. Large florals can be stunning, but so un functional. I like to keep dining centerpieces low and elegant, and most importantly simple. Fresh stems, or just blooms floating in water with votive candles can make a great impact and also allow everyone at the table to still feel connected. Napkins can also completely dress a table on their own. By using a simple cotton napkin with a ring you can add an instant pop of texture and warmth to the table. Don’t be afraid to mix and match plates, glasses, napkin rings, and placemats I love using a mix of all these elements to entertain as it looks more curated and you are able to use more of the things you love. Placecards are always a good idea, for casual and formal entertaining. To me they say, “welcome” to your guests and personalize the event.
So the next time you host a gathering think about using unexpected spaces in your home, and also curate your own sense of style by using a mix of different elements to decorate. If you are building or designing an entertaining space always lead with function and your efforts will pay off. As we look to Springs arrival I am excited to welcome friends and family into our home and many more evenings of food and fellowship around our table. As always, let me know if I can help you in designing your spaces or just finding new ways to explore decorating in your own home. Here’s to many happy gatherings in your own spaces!
Using different spaces in your home, expected and unexpected, to entertain is a fun way to also bring an element of surprise for your guests and create movement within the gathering.