VICTORIA - Creating a home that can easily be converted from serving the needs of daily life to a venue for entertaining guests is something homeowners might want to consider when they are planning their spaces and purchasing furniture.
According to Angela Robinson, a Vancouver interior designer, most Canadians are casual entertainers, which means their guests might find themselves eating appetizers in a living room rather than sitting down to a formal dinner in a dining room, so seating and tables, including coffee and side tables, are important pieces.
"If you are sitting in a living room having a drink and some food, there is often not enough seating and surface space for people to feel comfortable putting drinks or plates down, and space for a homeowner to put plates of appetizers down," she says. "You really don't want them to put glasses and dishes on the floor beside them."
Storage for extra seating is not an option for many homeowners, but Robinson says there are functional and stylish alternatives to having stacks of folding chairs tucked into a closet.
"It is wise to consider choosing chairs for the rest of your house that co-ordinate with your dining area," she says. "For example maybe a homeowner does a patterned upholstered desk chair or a chair at your kitchen phone desk and as long as they all co-ordinate with your dining room you could pull them in when entertaining."
Robinson says one of the major problems her clients have when it comes to creating spaces conducive to entertaining is how to approach a home with an open concept.
"A homeowner will be prepping the meal and getting ready for the evening in the kitchen, and quite often are entertaining right beside the kitchen in the adjoining dining room or living room," she says. "I know that having their mess exposed to their guests is a concern for some homeowners."
Creating partitions or barriers with sculptural pitchers or vases and flower arrangements is one easy way homeowners can block guests from what's going on in the kitchen.
A benefit of an open-concept home is the ability to transform the various spaces to suit the needs of a party. Ellie Chapple, manager and senior designer at Rook and Rose in Victoria, says having pieces that can be moved to create intimate spaces for casual dining or to make way for a large table for formal dining makes entertaining easier.
Chapple also applies the same concept to the accessories that set the mood for the perfect event.
"A big trend we've seen in the past year is the rustic look," she says. "People are using everything from ceramic pitchers and mason jars to wood rounds and cuts, and loose marble cuts."
Nothing is worse than when you create the perfect mood in the space you want to entertain in and your guests congregate in the kitchen for the evening instead. Chapple says paying attention to the small details can help draw people to other areas of the house.
"Little finishing touches go a long way in terms of decorating your home for an event," she says.
"Making sure that you are putting those extra touches, whether it is flowers, candles or a string of lights outside, help pull your guests to the areas you want your guests to gravitate towards."