We are fortunate to have a good group of friends that enjoy getting together. We play poker on a regular basis. We have dinner parties. And, as soon as the temps start to drop, we end up in the hot tub. Overall, it's a great group to hang out with and we're fortunate to have the home that suits these sort of gatherings. Today, as I continue my home search, I'm realizing how well our existing home is set up for having people over. I'd like to dig into that a bit and explore some of the ways you can adjust your own home for entertaining or look for these features if you're home shopping like me.
If you have ever had more than 2-3 guests to your home, you know that everyone inevitably ends up in the kitchen. It's not just that we are all snack-crazy, hungry, hungry hippos. Mostly it's because the host(s) are very likely still working on any and all of the food preparation. It also happens to be where the drinks are! It turns out, just about all of our hosting events include some sort of food and drink. It just makes sense that the kitchen is where everyone lands.
Since that's where everyone is going to be, it's pretty important that the kitchen is somewhat "open." The kitchen here has a six person bar which used to be a big wall. Basically the kitchen was closed off from the living/dining area and the previous owners simply cut the top half of the walls out and put in a nice bar-top. Now people can sit or stand "outside" of the kitchen, but still have a conversation with those "inside" the kitchen. Honestly, it's fantastic to have a way for people to not be in the way while you're trying to make drinks and food for a handful of people. Since the kitchen is positioned in one corner of the living/dining area, there are two entrances as well. This helps keep the flow of people moving.
Another priceless feature of our home is the TV or recreation room. It just so happens that ours is in the basement, but having a separate room for people to gather is really quite useful. In many cases, my roommate has some of his college friends over for game night. While I'm friends with most of them, that's not really my cup of tea. I have the option of either holing up in my room or relaxing in the basement/TV room while they are all upstairs playing games.
I can also see this being a fantastic option if you have kids or teens. While you're having your "adult" party upstairs or in the kitchen/living area, the kids can be playing video games or doing whatever kids do in a separate room. You've likely picked up my need/desire for personal space over the years, I think anytime you're considering a new home (or even a remodel) carving out "separated" space is always a desirable feature. "Having a separate room is great for entertaining as well as normal, everyday living," notes Badger Realty agent, Stacy Goodrich. "Having a spot to read, do homework, watch TV, or play video games away from the rest of the house (and hustle and bustle) is just a good recipe for a happy house," she continued.
Another wonderful feature of an entertaining home is the ability to get outside. I realize that seems counterintuitive, but being able to walk out onto our deck from the dining area is incredibly helpful, especially while having guests over. Weather permitting, we're on the deck grilling anyway. And we've added a couch and some chairs as well as one of those cool fire tables. Now, guests can hang out in the kitchen or flow out onto the deck. It obviously makes the house feel larger and also helps keep the noise down if you have a particularly loud group of friends.
While we are very casual and gracious hosts, we don't necessarily want people wandering around the house into our rooms or offices. One of the most common reasons folks wander is to find a bathroom. Obviously, adding a bathroom is no simple feat, so if you're entertaining fools like we are, this will become a priority. You need to have an easily accessible bathroom on the main floor of the home. We do have people sometimes venture downstairs to use "my" bathroom, but mostly they use the one just off the kitchen. This feature is quick and easy for people and doesn't make them feel like they are intruding into the rest of your home.
The last piece of the puzzle, at least for today, is a guest room or suite. If your friends imbibe too much or you simply have folks staying with you for a couple days, having a separate area for them to "live" is luxurious as much has it is useful. A spare bedroom is great and a significant upgrade from having them need to sleep on your couch. The next step beyond that is them having their own bathroom. A guest suite is a bit beyond my pay grade, but just having a separate bathroom is a huge step. My bathroom is next to our guest room, so I tend to share with whomever is visiting. It's a bit more private than them having to use the main bath and makes them feel a bit more comfortable.
If you're an entertaining fool, it's worth investing in a few of these upgrades to make the experience more fun and relaxing for everyone. In reality, the work you put into these features is going to benefit you, the homeowner, just as much as it will the guests. Happy Hosting!