How to plan the perfect entertaining space

Plan the perfect entertaining space
Jennifer Morgan,-Interiors Editor

Take entertaining to the next level this autumn with our boutique hotel-inspired ideas

Autumn is the perfect time to ask friends over and show your home at its most cosy and inviting. And with a few tricks inspired by design-led restaurants and boutique hotels, your living-dining space can easily look and feel the part too. ‘Take time to enjoy preparing your home for your drinks or dinner party,’ says Fionnuala Johnston, Partner & Senior Designer, Home Design Studio. ‘Dress your table, light lots of candles and use plenty of luxurious materials, such as velvets and silks. Why go out to a fancy restaurant when you can recreate the feel of one at home?’

living room

Go for flexible furniture

Plan ahead for when your guests arrive, with a tray of drinks at the ready. They can always help themselves to a glass of fizz as you add those finishing touches to dinner. Swap out your usual coffee table for an arrangement of smaller side tables, which can be positioned next to sofas and cocktail-style chairs. Look for dramatic combinations for occasional pieces of furniture, such as copper with warm wood, matt black or touches of brass. Use pouffes to add extra seating where you can and layer up sofas with luxe cushions and throws – just make sure there's enough space for guests to sit back and relax.

drinks trolley

Style a cocktail bar area

Turn a corner of your living or dining space into a cocktail station. Use a bar trolley or cabinet to store your favourite alcoholic and non-alcoholic tipples, along with your best glassware, cocktail shakers and barware – this is the perfect excuse to be decadent when it comes to accessories. Keep the lighting soft, with plenty of candles or a floor lamp, adding to the mood. Add a cocktail chair or two, making a cosy corner within your living room. Try one in velvet, which could also work in your bedroom when not needed for guests.

dining room

Choose dining chairs made for lingering

Mix and match dining chairs for an elegant restaurant vibe. Choose a carver-style set with arms and two pairs of two different chairs to make up a set of six – any more and you risk too many conflicting shapes and styles. Look for a common design thread – either colour, shape or finish. For drama, why not go for on-trend black?

Make sure any chair is comfortable enough for sitting on post-dinner, as some guests will want to stay at the table to chat, while others will opt for the comfort of your sofa.

dining table

Offer ‘help yourself’ courses

Having the right serveware is essential when entertaining a crowd. Look for large platters, serving bowls and boards, which will encourage guests to help themselves to starters or puddings and cheese, allowing you to concentrate on serving up the main course. Plate up in advance, giving you more time to be with guests, rather than being hidden away in the kitchen.

coffee table

Retreat to the sofa for coffee

Work every corner of your living-dining room and suggest guests retreat to your sofa for after-dinner coffee. Have a pre-prepared tray, with coffee cups, teaspoons, cream and sugar, along with a few petit fours or posh chocolates to offer. Swap out the welcome drinks tray from earlier for one ready for coffee.

Relax and spend quality time enjoying the company of great friends, knowing that your home has worked nearly as hard as you have.…

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