Must-Have Features That Make Your Home an Entertaining Haven
Is entertaining at home a big part of your lifestyle?
From simple gatherings to large parties, you must consider the space in the home where you can host small or big groups of family and friends. Perhaps you have imagined that space very clearly in your mind but aren't quite sure where to start. Getting the process started requires pre-planning before the actual laying of your dream home’s foundation.
Think about where everyone will gather, and where to store plates, chairs, extra tables, and other stuff when not in use. Will you consider a separate area for children and teenagers? Will there be outdoor socials in addition to indoor gatherings? Do you want a smooth flow between the living room and the outdoor patio – and extend the entertaining space? No matter how big or small, or, who the celebration is for – the most important consideration is having the right space for these festivities.
Get set to review the top eight features you should include in your home for entertaining.
1. Open Floor Plan
Ah, the beauty and efficiency of an open floor layout! One of the wonders of modern home design, the open floor concept – without its walls and divisions - makes the home feel more spacious, brighter, and airier. A must-have for those who love to entertain, it allows a smooth flow of traffic from the entryway into the Great Room (living, dining, and kitchen areas).
In an open floor design, everyone can socialize and take part in the action. The family and their guests can congregate in one space without crowding each other or stepping on each other. It is also a welcome and creative innovation that serves chefs well - since they can engage in some social time with the rest of the guests while they prepare and set up in the kitchen.
The open floor concept also works when parents want to keep an eye on their children’s activities. From any area of the house, they can see children playing, doing their homework, and doing other projects.
An amazing open floor layout greets visitors who step into the foyer of this 3,623-square-foot, two-bedroom, 2.5-bath Ranch plan. The spacious Great Room includes a roomy kitchen with two islands, a dining area, and a family room that opens to the rear covered porch. The one-story floor plan has a lower level that can be finished to add a guest suite and other amenities. (Plan #161-1094)
2. Kitchen Island
As always, the kitchen remains the heart of the home. And when families entertain, the kitchen is the place to assemble. But an overcrowded kitchen can be a nightmare for the cooks and those helping to prepare the meal.
To avoid an overflow of people in the hub of the home and reduce traffic when everyone comes in, you need a kitchen island to provide additional seating and prep space. With an island, guests can feel free to say hello to the chefs, chat, and even stick around to help with some chores – without cramping the style of those who are preparing the meal.
The island also doubles as a food station. You can set up the buffet on the countertop as well as all the plates, cups, glasses, and silverware. So, even with a small kitchen, the additional seating provided by the island gives everyone the opportunity to stay in one room and enjoy the gathering.
The spacious kitchen in a one-story, three-bedroom Contemporary style home includes an oversized kitchen island that has seating for six and all the room to move around. In this kitchen, chefs and guests can mingle happily without knocking each other out. (Plan #202-1014)
3. A Second Living Area
Another space – like a family room that is separate from the Great Room – is a plus when hosting a big party.
There are guests who naturally gravitate toward the dining/kitchen areas while some may prefer the living room where they can still be part of the conversation. The younger ones may go to the family room where they can watch a show on television, have a quiet moment away from all the noise, or play a game on their Xbox.
More than one living area allows both adults and children to move around freely in the house, have fun and interact with each other.
Talk about multiple living areas for entertaining at home! A one-story, four-bedroom Country plan has a very spacious Great Room that opens into a separate dining area to accommodate a large number of guests. (Plan #142-1169)
For those who want a little break from the festivities, there is the Media Room where they can relax or watch TV. (Plan #142-1169)
4. Outdoor Space
As entertaining has evolved into more than a simple barbecue, homeowners are including practical outdoor spaces in their home designs. Whether you live in California, Florida, and other places where mild temperatures are the norm, or in the Northeast and Midwest with all the snow, a functional outdoor space is always a plus when entertaining. This area extends the party outside and takes care of any congestion in the kitchen.
Even a small patio – with a small dining table with chairs or a sofa with cushions - will make a difference when you are hosting a large party at home.
The more accessible the outdoor space is, the better for a smooth flow from the inside living room to the outdoor patio or porch. How awesome would it be to have sliding doors that open from the living room into a rear patio or deck?
For the outdoor space, consider a covered or screened-in porch where you can enjoy warm weather breezes and shelter from a rain shower. You can also include a fire pit and a grilling kitchen.
A huge outdoor space is one of the many stunning features of this three-bedroom, 3.5-bath, 3,665-square-foot Modern house plan. Open the sliding doors for a seamless flow from the indoors to the outdoors, then check out the seating around the fire pit, grill, and dining table at the far end of the space. (Plan #202-1027)
5. Wet Bar/Designated Food Station
Where do you serve food and drinks? It helps to have designated “stations” for food and drinks. Since the kitchen is the center of the action, it is convenient to have the kitchen island as the designated food section for all the entrees. A small table can be utilized for desserts and snacks.
Another item on the list of new home buyers is a wet bar that provides not only a place to serve drinks – but ample storage space. This spot is also another area where guests can spend time together while fixing their drinks.
If you do not have the luxury of a wet bar, then you can get a bar cart with multiple shelves for a serving/assembly area. A cart on wheels makes it easier to reposition and move around without guests bumping into it. Another option is a folding table that you can put away when not in use.
A stunning Contemporary home with 2,593 -square feet of space includes plenty of amazing amenities – including this wet bar adjacent to the rec room. The luxurious home includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a powder room, and a huge deck. Finish the basement for an additional 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. (Plan #161-1085)
6. Powder Room/Guest Bathroom
Another must-have for new builds/home buyers is a guest bathroom or a powder room. If you have a two-story home, it is preferable to dedicate a powder room on the main level – that is easily accessible to your guests.
In most of today’s new builds, you can find homes with spacious powder rooms and full bathrooms on the main floor. If you have an older home, this may be a home improvement project that should be discussed and priced out with a contractor.
An attractive powder room in a four-bedroom, 2,686-square-foot Country home is conveniently located near the entryway, making it very accessible to guests when the family is entertaining. (Plan #142-1169)
7. Guest Room or Murphy Bed
Many homes have guest rooms with ensuites or just plain old guest rooms. However, if you'd like to maximize your guest room space perhaps you should consider a bunk room. This is a bedroom for your guests but with multiple beds - perfect when the grandkids or nieces and nephews come to town!
If you don't have a dedicated guest room and would rather use it as flex space for other purposes – like a home office or study. Consider installing a Murphy bed – which can accommodate your out-of-town or overnight guests. After the party, the Murphy bed goes back up the wall and the space reverts to its original purpose – a home office, study, or hobby space.
A guest room in a two-story, 4,964-square-foot Craftsman-style home has enough sleeping spaces to accommodate overnight guests – especially a family. There are bunk beds in the bedroom that are attached to a rec area (see below) where comfortable sofas can be fitted with sheets and pillows. There is also a wet bar area - perfect for out-of-town guests. The home has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a powder room. (Plan #202-1016)
From walk-in and butler pantries to extra cabinets and drawers, extra storage is always an important feature in a home – and a definite must-have for family entertaining throughout the year. Think of spacious pantries and storage rooms to keep small appliances, dishes, glassware, silverware, trays, and party favors/accessories.
Another storage option is a garden shed to store folding tables, chairs, lights, ornaments, Christmas trees, decorations, and other seasonal items.
A spacious mudroom/storage area in a sprawling Modern Ranch home provides plenty of storage space for jackets, extra shoes, small appliances, and other party items. (Plan #202-1027)
Need more storage space? This beautifully built140-square-foot garden shed is the ideal place for items like Christmas trees, lights, folding tables, and chairs. (Plan #100-1361)
In addition to these features, families should also consider parking space – especially if the home does not have a circular or long driveway. Whether you live in a city or a suburban area and whatever the size of your driveway, always be aware of how the number of cars affects traffic flow on your street, and more importantly, how it affects your neighbors.
While your home may not have all these features, you can always take the next step toward home improvement projects for a great home entertaining experience.
Footnote: The lead image in this article is a spacious and beautifully furnished covered grill porch in an amazing two-story, 4,501-square-foot Country style home. For a closer look at this fabulous home with five bedrooms, 5.5 baths, and all the luxury amenities, go to: (Plan #153-1121)