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Tips & Trends

With gatherings of all shapes and sizes starting to pick back up, you may have the urge to reconnect with family and friends in your own home. But how do you make sure your spaces are ready to take on a crowd? Whether it’s a savvy selection made in the building stage or a functional furniture piece added in ad hoc, these experts have the answer!

Larry Waldrep HeadshotLarry Waldrep, Waldrep Construction, LLC

More open spaces are very important these days. A little planning on the front end of a project can go a long way. I like to take advantage of connected outdoor spaces such as a covered porch. A covered porch can serve as a spillover area for larger gatherings and provide fresh air and shade as well. In the design phase, you can plan for larger openings between your interior and exterior living spaces. Larger sliding doors that open up as wide as 8 feet can be used and will make the interior and exterior areas feel connected. Planning ahead by installing ceiling heaters on the covered porch allows for use during the colder months as well. By doing these things, you can spend a little extra money on the front end and create a much greater amount of valuable living space for the long run.




Jay Caughman Headshot

Jay Caughman, Caughman + Caughman Architects

If you’re looking for a way to accommodate a group of people, I would encourage you not to think solely of how you make a space for entertaining, but also how you can create spaces that serve multiple functions. This has become easier with today’s open-space floor plans, and the true challenge is opening and combining spaces in older homes and making sure that they operate cohesively. When possible, try opening walls to create sightlines from one space to another, which encourages interaction while still allowing spaces to maintain their individuality. The kitchen is a great example and is a place people regularly congregate. There are minor tweaks to a floor plan that homeowners can make to help their visitors feel connected to the kitchen, but at the same time discourage actual entry to the kitchen.




Dexter White HeadshotDexter White, Dexter W. White Construction

It’s no secret that the kitchen is the heart of the home and is where people tend to gather. If you’ve built or remodeled your home with entertaining in mind, there’s plenty you can do to keep spaces open and maintain sightlines between functional spaces and stylish seating areas. In existing homes, this can be a little harder to do. Try creating work zones where cooking and prepping can take place, and leave little to no reason for guests to enter that space. Also, prioritize storage solutions near areas that might need to be tidied up when guests arrive. And be mindful of how guests can serve themselves, whether that is piling up a plate or pouring a drink. Use furniture and cabinetry to create stations that are out of the cook’s way but still nearby and will encourage conversation.

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Ashley Stinson headshotAshley Stinson, Cain Development, LLC

When planning for events and gatherings, space is everything. Large islands that open to family room spaces make an awesome place to chat and hang out while not missing out on the big game or any of the action. Wet bars have made a huge comeback. Displaying glassware and liquors or wines can make a big visual impact (especially with a great wow-factor tile and a fun cabinet color!). Functional features such as under-cabinet beverage fridges, ice makers, and a bar sink (which can double as a great spot for ice and bottled drinks) make the space practical. Don’t like to see it? You can always do full cabinet doors with the bar hidden behind. Open them when you are entertaining, and tuck your wet bar away for daily living. 




Michael Bridges headshotMichael Bridges, Surface Architecture & Design

We are seeing entertaining spaces become more and more prioritized in new home designs as people begin to plan for reconnecting with family and friends. That usually means flexible spaces that can be intimate as well as adaptable for larger groups. An island in the kitchen can be used as a casual breakfast spot for two or as a hub of conversation for a party. An investment in a more elaborate exterior door system can turn two smaller spaces into a large indoor/outdoor social space. In addition, looking at a comprehensive master plan for the backyard can be a great way to add enviable entertaining spaces, whether that means a deck, patio, outdoor kitchen, or even a pool.




David Ambrosetti headshotDavid Ambrosetti, Ambrosetti Construction, LLC

Open the doors and let the fun spill outside! It doesn’t need to be fancy; just focus on comfort and function. Know the weather in your area. Will your guests need shelter from sun or rain, a fire pit for cool evenings, or fans for sultry days? A few chairs clustered around small tables facilitate quiet conversations, while benches flanking long tables make way for bigger feasting and louder laughter. Keep a few cushions, throws, or even beach towels handy to soften things up. Thoughtful lighting makes an impact. Have fun and get creative! There are endless options available. Don’t overlook safety, and avoid unstable structures, tipsy furniture, and tripping hazards. And always take proper precautions when fire or water is involved. If it isn’t safe, change it. In all of this, don’t forget to make it yours. Make a space that tastefully reflects your personality and passions, allowing you and your guests to relax and enjoy.

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