Part of what makes a house a home is building memories, and for many homeowners that includes celebrating and hosting guests for special occasions.
While many rooms are designed to support daily living for the homeowner, paying attention to décor detail can elevate everyday spaces to be welcoming and stylish for entertaining.
Here are tips on how to transform your home to make an impression on your guests.
The foyer and the mudroom
The foyer is one of the most understated spaces in the home, but if designed strategically and cohesively, it invites guests in warmly and sets the style tone for the rest of the house, as well as offering storage.
A good foyer is uncluttered to permit easy traffic flow in and out of your home. Ideally, you’ll have a deep and/or long closet to hang coats and store shoes and boots out of the way.
In terms of décor in the foyer, pick statement-making pieces that will make an impression on guests as they enter and linger while saying goodbye, such as a cool custom mirror or thoughtful artwork.
And don’t forget a hall table, with a decorative lamp or catch-all for keys and other small items.
Depending on the configuration of your home, your mudroom might be used often for guest entry and exit, and the same design principles apply, except in a mudroom, storage is even more important.
Designer Heather Jennings with Blackwell & Jennings recommends closed storage so things don’t get so messy and encourages homeowners not to underestimate their storage needs.
“Double the size you think you need in a mudroom as this ends up being the catch-all for the entire house,” she says.
Make a point of including special décor touches in this function-first room.
“Create a warm and welcoming first impression for guests by placing decorative throw pillows on the storage bench in your everyday entry/mudroom area. Storage in a functional drop zone/mudroom is the perfect place for guests to store their belongings,” according to the designers at Toll Brothers.
Many floor plans offer a den option, which homeowners often use as a home office, sometimes with multi-purpose furniture that accommodates guests when needed.
However, a den offers well-located space for creative uses that would give guests a unique experience, such as a cigar lounge, study or even for musical entertainment.
“With the return of turntables, dens seem to be making a comeback for listening to music and showcasing an LP collection,” says Jennings.
The powder room
Apart from a dedicated guest bathroom, which is likely located inside or in close proximity to bedrooms, a powder room tucked off the main living space is one that will be used most often by guests, so it should be appropriately designed and decorated.
This space offers an opportunity for homeowners to experiment with different décor styles while making an impression on guests too.
“Creating memorable spaces for a powder bath means bold color and/or patterned wallpaper. Take the opportunity to design outside the overall style of the home. You can take risks in smaller spaces like using a special finish for plumbing, adding personal hardware to the cabinets, or trying bold patterns for tile and wallpaper,” says Lee Crowder, senior director, national design and model operations with Taylor Morrison.
“Another feature that always makes the space special is a signature candle scent and monogramed or personalized guest towels for the occasion,” says Crowder.
High-end audio systems throughout your home add flair to any occasion, and don’t forget the powder room.
“I love a power room with quiet jazz playing,” says Jennings.
Treat your outdoor space as an extension of your indoor living area and use similar strategies for zones geared for entertaining.
“Create a bar or gathering area for socializing and make sure that your space flows well, with enough space for passing by tables and chairs,” says Cate Singleton, director of design with landscape company Tilly.
“Comfort is key. Like with your indoors, having comfortable outdoor furniture such as couches, chairs, benches, and tables will make your guests’ experience even better. Add cushions and outdoor pillows for extra comfort,” she says.
Singleton encourages homeowners to experiment with colors and textures with outdoor accents to “give your space personality or pops of color,” and recommends weather-resistant materials.
Homeowners should layer lighting outdoors, as they would inside, including task-oriented and decorative lighting.
Pathway or exterior lights help guide guests safely in the dark, and overhead lighting in an outdoor kitchen can help after-dark dinner parties.
Lighting choices outside go far to set the mood.
“Don’t underestimate the ambiance created by outdoor lighting. String lights and lanterns are a very simple and inexpensive way to create an intimate feel and make your space even more beautiful,” says Singleton
A luxe lower level
If you’ve got a finished basement, you’ve got room for party central. Create zones where guests can partake in different activities, such as a games corner, billiards or ping pong table, as well as comfy seating with end or coffee tables within reach.
Don’t forget storage in your lower level. Built-in cabinets are great for housing games and toys and do double duty for a display case.
A lower level is a great space to incorporate a décor theme, such as travel or sports.
Basements can be dark and damp, so pay attention to placement of lighting and oversize windows if possible. Make the room cozy with a gas fireplace.
Also popular on the lower level is a wet bar for serving drinks and snacks to guests.
Up your entertainment game
For homeowners who want to splurge in creating entertainment spaces that will wow their guests, a state-of-the-art media room is impressive, whether you are watching films or watching the big game on the big screen.
Often media rooms are located on a lower level, because it’s easier to control the light, but that’s not necessarily the hard and fast rule, according to Crowder.
“If you love to host football or game nights, look for a media room on your first floor,” says Crowder, because of proximity to the kitchen and main living areas.
Wine cellars with built-in tasting rooms are growing in popularity. So are “saunas, soak pools and ice baths,” says Jennings.
“People are looking for more health and wellness options for guests in their homes,” she says.