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Prep your home for party season

Tips and tricks from the experts to create a party-ready space

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The East Coast is known for its kitchen parties, but with the holidays on the horizon, your whole house could be called into action. East Coast Living asked an event planner, a contractor, and a decorator for tips and tricks to prep your home for party season.

Open door policy

Your entertainment space begins the moment you open the door. Start the night right.

“I like to encourage a functional and welcoming entryway, especially in the winter,” says Katherine Langford, owner of Picture Perfect Event Design in Moncton, N.B. Incorporate a mudroom and coat room into your entry way, or add a small seat and a rimmed boot tray or two.

Built to host

If you love entertaining, build it into your new home.


“With an open-concept kitchen, living, and maybe even dining room, no one is left on their own in the kitchen while guests are gathered in another room,” says Guff Thompson, owner of Root Developments in Bedford, N.S., a custom construction, contracting and home renovation service.

Create a working zone and gathering zone so guests can mingle with the host without being in the way. A kitchen island helps define the space between party and prep.

Consider adding in extra kitchen gadgets, such as double ovens, warming drawers, an extra stove element, and a pot-filler pipe by the stove

The basement bar is a thing of the past, says Sara MacKeeman, an interior decorator with Doucet-Watts & Davis Interiors in Halifax. Put yours in the heart of your home; focus on a functional, understated space. It can be as simple as a walk-up bar with a wine or beverage fridge, storage for glassware, and counter space.

Transform your existing space

You don’t need a big renovation to make your home party-ready.

Look for places to add storage: the basement or garage can hold an extra fridge, wine fridge, or dishwasher.

A dining room table can become a buffet or bar, a low bookcase can hold dishes or drinks, or become seating with a couple of cushions.

“Closed-off rooms can be a challenge [for entertaining] but if you’re not up for doing a large renovation simply removing doors or cutting back the walls just a bit to create larger openings from room to room can help,” says Thompson.

Set the tone

The right lighting and décor sets the mood for your gathering without a big time or financial investment.

Keep paint light and bright with pops of colour, such as throw cushions, suggests Langford.

Hanging décor, like strings of globe lights, makes a big impact without taking up much space.

Create ambience with lighting on dimmers, recess lighting, sconces, and lamps that can be moved around or not turned on at all. Low-watt soft or warm white bulbs produce less heat.

Hide TVs behind cabinet doors and wiring in the walls. If you can’t move the TV, get a big piece of fabric and turn the TV into an art piece and protect it at the same time.

Take a seat

Create seating areas that encourage guests to chat, move around, and get comfortable.

outdoor-indoor-space-webConsider smaller furniture. Large sectionals cut off the room.

Group together love seats and chairs to create pockets where guests can break off from the crowd.

For more elaborate affairs, Langford suggests renting a storage pod to stow belongings. Rent some smaller pieces or move excess furniture to a different room.

The same ideas for indoors apply to outdoor spaces: don’t overcrowd it and provide lots of seating. Keep comfort in mind with patio heaters, a fire pit, or cozy throws.

Heather Fegan

East Coast Living