However, some houses don’t seem cut out for entertaining, particularly if the rooms are small, cramped and dark, so you may think transforming your home into a social space would need an expensive revamp that you just can’t afford.
But you really don’t have to break the bank to turn your home into a party house, promises Christopher Dance, director and head designer at InHouse Inspired Room Design.
“You may think major renovations are in order when it comes to making your home the perfect place for socialising,” he says. “But small changes can make a big difference”.
And Lucy Mather, interiors expert from the furniture and décor store Arighi Bianchi adds: “My advice for anyone looking to create the wow factor this festive season is to think about the overall look you want to achieve and stick with the theme. So if that’s a slick and sophisticated cocktail party, then think about the key pieces that will help you get the look in your home.”
Here are some of the best ways to turn your home into a party palace, without spending a fortune…
1. Look at the layout
For small get-togethers, Dance suggests hosts arrange sofas and armchairs to face each other so no-one’s left out. “If you’re planning a large party, you may prefer to move the seating to the side so your guests can chat standing up, yet still have the option to sit down if needed,” he says.
If you need extra seating in a small space, why not buy – or borrow – a few comfortable and budget-friendly floor cushions, he suggests.
2. Create ambience through the right lighting
Dance says the type of lighting you need for socialising at home will depend on the type of gathering you’re hosting. “You should consider how to create an inviting ambience for your guests, which is where lighting comes in,” he says.
So if you’re serving food, you’ll need adequate light to allow people to see what they’re eating, but for more intimate and casual gatherings, warm and cosy lighting will go down well, especially on dark, chilly evenings, says Dance. “Opt for warm, low-level mood lighting rather than large and cold overhead lights,” he advises, “and make use of the dimmer switch if you have one. If you don’t, try illuminating with lamps rather than a single main light source.”
3. Change the atmosphere through colour
Different colours can introduce different feelings into the room and can really change the atmosphere, says Dance. “Try out paint swatches or make digital mock-ups to see what everything will look like,” he suggests. “Reds and oranges are a great option for evoking warmth, but if you’d prefer a more calming effect then try out blues and greens.”
You can add further individuality with a feature wall in a different colour, or even a mural. “Whatever you decide, pick the colour scheme early on so you can have it in mind for choosing other elements such as furniture and accessories,” adds Dance.
4. Use outdoor space
If you have French windows opening out onto a patio, consider blending the inside and outside with some biophilic touches, using designs and colours inspired by nature to add to your interiors, often involving real plants, Dance suggests. “This is a calming décor and will encourage you to spend more time in your outdoor space,” he says.
“If you don’t normally use your garden, then consider installing some seating, a barbecue, or a pizza oven. In the summer, relaxing in the garden can become a whole pastime on its own and even the colder months are enjoyable with a log fire, some hot drinks, and stargazing.”
5. Create a home bar
The first step to creating a home bar on a budget is deciding its location, advises Dance. For a kitchen bar, use your existing cabinets and counterspace to save money, or install some basic shelving if you need a little extra space.
You probably already have many of the essentials you need for setting up your bar, like glassware and shot glasses for measurements. For cocktail lovers, add a cocktail shaker.
“A home bar also acts as a visual centrepiece for your entertaining,” says Dance. “When it comes to decorating it, why not use what’s provided to you by the great outdoors? There are plenty of ways you can decorate seasonally, such as using acorns and pine cones in autumn, and fresh flowers in spring and summer. For Christmas, try decorating with sprigs of holly and mistletoe to create the perfect festive home bar. “
6. Why not opt for a drinks trolley?
They might sound a bit retro, but drinks trolleys have actually proved hugely popular over the past few years, says Mather. “They’re a great investment,” she says, “and can be used for entertaining and to display your glasses and spirits when not in use.”
7. Don’t forget the important finishing touches
Little things that guests will see and smell are important additional, and usually cheap, touches, and Dance says: “To create the perfect laid-back atmosphere for socialising, small touches like scented candles, comfortable throws, and side tables with ample coasters for drinks will be appreciated by guests.”
And Mather adds: “Make sure whatever you buy for home entertaining has longevity – invest in high-quality pieces you’ll use time and time again.”