‘How We cre­ated the per­fect party space’

From grand din­ing ta­bles to plenty of light, three read­ers re­veal how they planned the per­fect en­ter­tain­ing space…

Real Homes - - Contents -

Three read­ers re­veal what they did to make their homes ideal for host­ing friends and fam­ily

‘Hav­ing a sep­a­rate cook­ing area en­cour­ages the flow of peo­ple away from the kitchen’ Stylist Philippa Mc­far­lane lives in Sur­rey with her hus­band, Alis­tair, who works in telecoms and de­vel­op­ment, and their sons, Zack, eight, In­die, six, and Max, three

‘When we moved into our house, it was made up of small sep­a­rate ar­eas

– a kitchen, a din­ing room, and an un­us­able, leaky or­angery. We wanted to cre­ate an open-plan liv­ing space all on one level. We knew we had enough room to cre­ate zones within one big­ger area so we wouldn’t be on top of each other all the time.

‘We re­placed the or­angery and ex­tended out by a me­tre. Be­cause we have a Vic­to­rian home, we were care­ful about keep­ing the pe­riod feel of the prop­erty, so we chose a glass de­sign sim­i­lar to the ex­ist­ing or­angery. We had no so­cia­ble out­side space thanks to a set of steps lead­ing to the pa­tio, so we ex­ca­vated the gar­den to cre­ate a court­yard and con­nect the in­doors and the out.

‘Cre­at­ing an open and so­cia­ble space was key, but we also wanted clear zones. Be­fore, ev­ery­one would pile into the kitchen while I tried to cook. Now, the space is di­vided so that peo­ple can sit at the break­fast bar while I’m pre­par­ing a meal. Hav­ing the cook­ing area sep­a­rate en­cour­ages the flow of peo­ple into other ar­eas of the room, rather than cir­cu­lat­ing around the food.

‘I think com­fort­able seat­ing helps. The break­fast bar means I can chat to guests while I’m cook­ing. We also have a ta­ble that raises up to be­come a bar – ev­ery­one loves it when they come round. It can change the feel of the room in an in­stant, whether we want to lay out drinks with ice buck­ets and gin glasses or have a sit-down din­ner.

‘In the past we’ve hosted a sup­per club, and we usu­ally have a New Year’s Eve party, too. As well as our so­cial kitchen space, we have spare bed­rooms for peo­ple to stay over – our friend­ship group has moved away over the years and we’re in the mid­dle, so we usu­ally all meet up at our house. The lay­out works per­fectly for us now.’

‘The wine room has be­come a real fea­ture of the space – and it means easy ac­cess to al­co­hol, too’ Ser­ena Dob­son and her hus­band Michael, who work in ex­ec­u­tive search, live in Lincolnshire with their chil­dren, Finn, five, and Beth, three

‘We came from a two-up, two-down ter­race be­fore we made the move into a big­ger house. The space was a ma­jor sell­ing point and we saw the po­ten­tial to turn the kitchen into a fam­ily room, but the din­ing room was sep­a­rate. That meant we never used it ex­cept at Christ­mas – it seemed like a huge waste of space.

‘I’d al­ways thought I’d like to ex­tend, so we de­cided to cre­ate a din­ing room ex­ten­sion off the kitchen and make the space open plan. That way, we’d be able to fit in a much larger din­ing ta­ble to ac­com­mo­date more guests. We also in­stalled bi-fold doors to open the room up to the gar­den and cre­ate more com­mu­nal space.

‘The ex­ten­sion re­placed a long strip of decking to the back of the house, so to avoid the room look­ing too nar­row, we sec­tioned off part of it and turned it into a wine room with Crit­tall-style glaz­ing. You can see it from the din­ing room and it’s be­come a real fea­ture of the space – and there’s easy ac­cess to wine, too!

‘We had a 10-seater con­crete din­ing ta­ble made be­spoke with leather din­ing chairs, which is a lovely com­mu­nal space with plenty of room for ev­ery­one. We also had a lantern roof put in, so the room is light and airy and it com­ple­ments the other end of the kitchen, which has dou­ble-height glaz­ing.

‘Hav­ing an open-plan space is def­i­nitely the key for us when it comes to en­ter­tain­ing. We don’t have to serve food in a sep­a­rate room to the kitchen any­more, and if I’m cook­ing din­ner I can still be a part of the group of peo­ple sat chat­ting around the ta­ble.

‘We’ll host Christ­mas this year with all the fam­ily and the in-laws, and in the lead up to that we’ll be hav­ing our neigh­bours round for a one-course meal as part of a “Sa­fari Sup­per” event we do ev­ery year. We have plenty of room now, so when the house is full of peo­ple it’s lovely.’

‘The stereo is al­ways on in the back­ground and the kids love danc­ing around to the mu­sic’ Iseult Fitzger­ald, a jour­nal­ist, lives in south-east Lon­don with her hus­band, Patrick, also a jour­nal­ist, and their chil­dren, Se­nan, four, and Imo­gen, one

‘The orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian lay­out of our house wasn’t well suited for en­ter­tain­ing. We had a small din­ing room and a gal­ley kitchen, and there were two walls be­tween the din­ing room and the gar­den. It needed bring­ing up to date.

‘We re­con­fig­ured the back of the house, knock­ing down walls and ex­tend­ing into the side-re­turn. We used a lot of glass in the de­sign be­cause good light­ing was our pri­or­ity. We have a glass roof and went frame­less with our slid­ing doors for a seam­less ef­fect.

‘We knew we wanted a so­cial space but didn’t need an­other liv­ing room. In­stead, we de­signed a room specif­i­cally for en­ter­tain­ing, with a big 2.5 me­tre is­land. When I’m cook­ing, it means peo­ple can sit around it and chat.

‘Our kitchen is a no-tv zone – we were adamant that it would be screen-free. We wanted peo­ple to talk to each other. We have speak­ers in the ceil­ing and an in­te­grated sound sys­tem, which comes into its own when we’re host­ing guests. The stereo is al­ways on in the back­ground and the kids can dance around to the mu­sic. We host loads of play­dates be­cause we can fit a lot of peo­ple into the room.

‘The lay­out was some­thing we thought a lot about when we de­signed the kitchen. The fridge, dish­washer and hob are all in a tri­an­gle, which makes it easy when you’re cook­ing or clear­ing up. We’ve had no fam­ily over for the last two years – we haven’t even had an oven! But now we have a proper host­ing kitchen, I can cook a big meal for ev­ery­one to cel­e­brate.’

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