Get ready for guests with a few quick tips to make your home look professionally planned for the holiday season.
Help visiting family and friends feel welcome by playing up the holiday spirit with decor and a couple simple home improvement tricks to make things light, bright and warm. (Getty Images)
The holiday season has arrived. Family and friends travel from all around the world to gather with relatives and loved ones to create new, lasting memories.
Seasonal occasions call for special gathering atmospheres, and this year you’re the host. While your guests escape the winter chill inside, let’s make your home a warm and inviting space; one that’s sure to be filled with laughter and merriment for the holidays. Here are some effective design tips to help make your home a holiday hosting oasis.
1. Entertaining seating areas and conversation pits. Trends from decades past have a habit of returning to popularity when it comes to interior design. One of the most recent trends to do so is the conversation pit – an interior design trend featured throughout old films and perhaps even in your childhood home. These unique seating areas are recessed into your floor and decorated with large, comfortable cushions.
Include a midcentury coffee table in the middle and you’ll have an inviting and cozy spot to entertain small groups of friends with food, drinks and conversation. If your home doesn’t possess a recessed or step-down living space, simply use your current den or living room and arrange your furniture in such a way that creates a semicircle sitting area using your couch, armchairs and ottomans. Try and arrange so that everyone has a nice view of the party, and can easily converse with one another over holiday treats.
2. Indoor fire. Nothing beats the comfort of a crackling, lively fire on a cold winter day. Your guests will love how cozy and warm the entire home feels. Installing one doesn’t have to break the bank either.
Costs to install start as low as $400 for a simple freestanding electric fireplace. For a gas installation, costs are closer to around $4,000, and for a truly authentic wood-burner expect around $7,000. Depending on your budget, it will be money well spent as nothing says “home for the holidays” better than a warm fire dancing in the hearth.
3. Open-plan kitchen and dining. The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where your guests will mingle, refill, reminisce and, of course, eat. The time for barbecues has come and gone and now is the season of hibernating. Making small kitchen updates can be a relatively quick process, allowing your new beautiful kitchen to be unveiled as the winter holidays arrive.
Make the space more usable, open and bright by adopting an open floor plan. Allowing the kitchen, living room and dining room to all connect with wide, open lines of sight – meaning no obstructing walls – will create an atmosphere where guests can freely wander, lounge and mingle. As you prepare dishes and do any necessary clean-up, you can talk and drink with guests without skipping a beat. You’ll be the host and chef simultaneously. Or if you’re lucky, family and friends can help with the preparation too while still feeling connected with the party.
4. Winter-ready design. When your guests arrive at your front door, they should feel transported to a holiday destination. Whether you’re going for the white, silver and snowy feel or the rich, warm, woodland feel, be sure that the aesthetics are consistent throughout.
Luxury decor such as quality wreaths, well-crafted holiday figurines or objects, cashmere throws, customized place settings, tasteful color schemes and some classy holiday tunes will achieve that perfect party ambiance. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to create a great atmosphere. It’s all about choosing the holiday aesthetic you prefer and adhering to the theme. The rustic, woodland, flannel look will deliver a very cozy, cabin-like feel, while the white-washed winter wonderland theme is great for more formal parties or homes that possess mostly light-colored walls. Either way, you’ll make quite an impression with your guests.
5. Updated lighting. There’s no better time to update your home’s lighting than before winter. As the seasons change, your home will experience far less natural light during the evenings, meaning you need to make sure each room is well-lit and inviting. Installing tight-interval recessed lighting is a great way to liven up a space. A less expensive option is to install track lighting that doesn’t require recession into the ceiling. Either way, ensure the lighting attractively showcases the best features of the room, and provides an even glow throughout.
Always use LED lights, which are nearly six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and will only cost around $50 to $150 to install. Your guests will appreciate that each room they explore has attractive, inviting lighting. And don’t forget about the exterior too. Use tasteful holiday lights to really excite your guests as they pull up the driveway.
First published on USNews.com. 5 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Holiday Hosting Oasis