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Interior design and the rise of dinner parties, events + house gatherings

Discover the top 10 tips to make your home or residential project party ready!

1920s dinner
Vintage photography by the Everett Collection
Interior design and the rise of dinner parties, events + house gatherings
Clara Carlino de Paz
January 10, 2024

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This article was originally posted on Making Space, a Substack penned by our Cofounder, Matteo Grand. Subscribe below to receive more content just like this.

Crafting a room’s interior design for parties, events and hosting is an artform in itself (and one we want to support). While many clients will not focus on the entertainment faculties of their house during the briefing process, its importance cannot be understated; particularly in the context of Gen Z, who is currently entering the interior design market for the first time.

Outlets like Business Insider will tell you that venues are recording record low sales of alcohol among Gen Z-ers. However, any actual member of this generation (including my 1998-born self) will let you know that many people choose to drink before events to cut down going out costs. With rising prices and inflation in urban areas, gathering to drink with your friends before a gig or night out has become a staple of the nightlife scene, and also somewhat of a social tradition with young people. 

Even among those who can afford luxurious and opulent lifestyles (and the work of interior designers), house gatherings have cemented themselves as a generational staple. In the months and years following the pandemic, dinner parties became a popular and increasingly integral part of socialising and performing hosting duties, and even now, three years on, the ramifications of this time continue to reverberate. 

With these shifting needs in mind, interior designers can preempt future generations’ design needs and start considering them now. In this article, we will go through some of the tips and considerations you might want to consider if you’re designing for a social butterfly. 

These tips come to you via Portaire, a product management software that helps interior designers do more of what they love: design. Through our platform, you can source from vetted luxury suppliers, organise their products into project-specific schedules, and share your progress with clients, contractors and team members.⁠ You can join us, and 2,500+ other studios.

How to design a party-ready home for events, holidays and dinners

01. Always consider flexibility as a necessary component of your design

When designing a party-ready home, flexibility should be at the forefront of your planning. Assuming your clients will be hosting different types of events (e.g. one focused on dancing and music, maybe another relating to food), thinking of a versatile layout will allow for seamless transitions between different event setups. Opt for movable furniture (such as modular sofas, light tables, and stackable chairs) which can be easily reconfigured to accommodate various party sizes and arrangements. 

If you and your clients are open to more intensive renovations, remember that open floor plans are excellent for hosting gatherings, providing ample space for guests to mingle and move around freely. Additionally, incorporating multi-functional spaces, like a convertible home office or a guest room with a Murphy bed, ensures that your home can adapt to different needs without compromising on style or comfort.

Example: Higienópolis Apartment by Teresa Mascaro

In this apartment, the floating slab of cement is a flexible focal point in the interior design. It can act as a dining table, a bar, a workspace, or whatever the client could ever desire. Here, the space is allowed to shift depending on the needs of the client right then and there, without having to put in much leg work.

multi use room
Photography by Pedro Mascaro
multi use room
Photography by Pedro Mascaro

02. Make lighting the out-of-reach “WOW” factor of the space

Lighting sets the mood for any occasion, and it's essential to create a captivating ambiance for your party-ready home. As a host, it is important to have places that inspire awe, but that are out of reach of children, adults, and above all, unwelcome accidents. There are many options around, but we’d recommend installing dimmable overhead lights that can be adjusted to suit different settings; from intimate dinners to lively celebrations. You can also add accent lighting through strategically placed wall sconces, floor lamps, and LED strips to highlight architectural features or decor pieces. Don't forget to create drama with statement chandeliers or pendant lights in key areas, like the dining room or entryway, to leave a lasting impression on your clients’ guests. For some great ideas, check out our article about 2023’s best lighting trends.

Example: Cameron Design House’s Kuulas Chandelier

As seen in the image below, a chandelier can be the captivating centrepiece of a whole room. This specific chandelier is created by one of our suppliers: Cameron Design House. You can find out more about their work and design philosophy in this exclusive interview.

Cameron Design House’s Kuulas Chandelier
Cameron Design House’s Kuulas Chandelier

03. Invest in durable architectural materials

Parties inevitably breed accidents and increased footfall, which means a party-ready home should be designed with durability in mind. Choosing high-quality architectural materials ensures that your space can withstand the wear and tear that comes with hosting frequent gatherings. Opt for hardwood or porcelain tile flooring in high-traffic areas, as they are easy to clean and resistant to scratches. Consider using stain-resistant fabrics for upholstery and drapery to handle accidental spills. When it comes to countertops and tabletops, select durable materials like granite, quartz, or engineered stone, as they are less prone to chipping and staining, making them ideal for food preparation and serving.

Example: Artisans of Devizes’ Dyrham Dairy Ceramic Decor

Artisans of Devizes is a British interior architecture supplier that specialises in the design and production of luxury stone, tile, and wood flooring, as well as other interior products. They are known for their high-quality craftsmanship and unique designs, offering a range of products that cater to both classic and contemporary styles. By the way, remember you can source from them through Portaire!

Tiles are incredibly durable, and the Dyrham Dairy collection is simply beautiful and a great addition to any and all hosts who admire the British sensibility. This particular tile collection is inspired by the blue and white delft tiles found in the house at Dyrham Park. It is a charming and characterful collection that complements both classic and contemporary interiors. These tiles are ideal for creating a striking feature splashback in neutral or monochrome schemes. The collection includes nine motifs that can be mixed and matched.

Moreover, Dyrham Dairy is part of the National Trust collection, which draws inspiration from various properties, gardens, coastlines, and countryside cared for by the National Trust. A portion of the sales, with a minimum of £10,000, will be contributed to support the National Trust in its efforts to preserve nature, beauty, and history for everyone.

Dyrham Dairy Ceramic Decor

04. Investigate natural stones’ porosity before choosing the perfect one

Natural stones like marble and limestone can add elegance and sophistication to your party-ready home. However, it's crucial to investigate their porosity before selecting the perfect one for your space. Porous stones are more susceptible to staining and etching, particularly when exposed to acidic substances like wine and citrus. If you're planning to use natural stone in high-traffic areas or near dining spaces, consider opting for less porous varieties or apply a protective sealer to minimise potential damage. This way, your clients can enjoy the beauty of natural stone without constant worries about maintenance.

Example: Artisans of Devizes’ Trusloe Limestone Seasoned Finish Parquet

As we just mentioned, Artisans of Devizes is a renowned artisan tile and stone supplier, and they lead designers into worlds filled with beauty and artisanship. Their Trusloe Limestone Seasoned Finish Parquet is “ultra-hard stone that can be used for interiors and exteriors”, and can work seamlessly in period homes as well as modern country ones.

Artisans of Devizes’ Trusloe Limestone Seasoned Finish Parquet
Artisans of Devizes’ Trusloe Limestone Seasoned Finish Parquet

05. Don’t make the powder room a simple afterthought

The powder room may be small, but it plays a significant role in any party or dinner gathering. Often used by guests, it should not be a simple afterthought in your design. Use this space as an opportunity to impress visitors with a touch of luxury or unique design elements. For instance, you can consider adding a stylish vanity with a statement mirror, chic wallpaper, or textured tiles to create a captivating visual impact. Of course, you should ensure there is proper ventilation and ample lighting to make the powder room a comfortable and inviting oasis for guests. And finally, above all else, remember to include hospitable and gracious details in your design, such as a place filled with sanitary and beauty products for guests to use. 

Example: Powder room by Arent & Pyke

This beautiful guest bathroom by Arent & Pyke is gorgeous, sultry and sexy – perfect for parties. Plus, the dark palette lends itself perfectly to a night time event. If you’re thinking of how to design your own secondary bathroom, we think this image is simply the perfect blueprint.

dark moody bathroom
Architecture by Polly Harbison Design, Interior Design, Furnishing, Object and Art by Arent & Pyke, and Photography by Anson Smart

06. Think of colour palettes that will work during daytime and nighttime

Selecting the right colour palette is crucial in designing a party-ready home that shines both during daytime and nighttime events. Neutral colours like warm whites, soft greens, and earthy tones create a versatile backdrop that complements various themes and decor styles. If your clients lean more on the eclectic side, you can Introduce pops of vibrant colours through accent pieces like cushions, artwork, and table settings to inject energy and personality into the space. While we’d normally be all for a crazy colour scheme for these sorts of clients, if they want to host different types of events, leaning into one concrete aesthetic might not be the right way. Also, don’t forget to consider how natural and artificial lighting will interact with your chosen colours, as this can significantly influence the overall atmosphere of your home during different times of the day. You can make sure your clients are happy with the choices by swatching the wall and observing the changes throughout the day.

Example: Ken Fulk’s maximalist wooden design

Ken Fulk is a man of endless talent which he mainly uses for his interior and event designs. In this example below, we can see how the dark and rustic wooden palette would work perfectly during the day and night. The focus on the warm ambers of the fire gives the room a perennial glow that would work with many types of events.

wood living room
Photography via Leo

07. Think of the acoustics from the get-go

Music is the language of emotion, and as far as parties go, the latter doesn’t exist without the former. To greatly enhance the party experience, designers should consider sound management as an important component of design. Without being a sound engineer, you can start by choosing materials that absorb sound, such as acoustic panels, area rugs, and curtains, which can help reduce echoing and improve the overall sound quality in your clients’ space. If your clients have an open floor plan, consider incorporating soft furnishings and strategically placing furniture to act as natural sound barriers. For those who take entertainment seriously, you can recommend investing in a high-quality sound system that blends seamlessly with their home's design to create an immersive experience for music, movies, and announcements during gatherings.

Example: Tim Page’s soft, luxe rugs and carpets

Tim Page Carpets is a renowned provider of exquisite rugs and carpets sourced from across the globe, catering to both eclectic and minimalist designers. Their extensive range showcases an array of fibres, textures, and distinctive characteristics, elevating any space with style. For those seeking exclusive pieces, bespoke solutions are readily available. You can source from them by joining Portaire.

Rug by Tim Page Carpets

08. Add focal points of interest

Creating focal points of interest throughout your clients’ home adds visual appeal and can spark conversations during events. As a designer, you can consider architectural features like a grand fireplace, a striking statement wall, or a captivating staircase that draws attention and serves as a centrepiece for your clients’ space. Artwork, sculptures, and unique decor items can also act as eye-catching focal points, reflecting your personality and interests. Of course, when designing these focal points, ensure they are proportionate to the space and don't overwhelm the overall aesthetic.

Example: Kendall Jenner’s home, as designed by Clements Design

In 2020 supermodel Kendall Jenner shocked the world with a well thought out, wonderful LA abode, designed by Kathleen and Tommy Clements and Waldo Fernandez. First released to Architectural Digest, the home has many focal points, like the one shown below. There, we can see how the artwork by James Turrell greets the guest and invites conversation. 

neon art
Photography via Hommes Studio

09. Let go of the “perfectly manicured” aesthetic

While a perfectly crisp minimalist aesthetic may seem appealing to your outgoing and trendy clients, it might not be the most practical choice. As a designer, you should suggest embracing a more relaxed and inviting atmosphere by incorporating materials, textures, and colours that can withstand the occasional mishap while exuding warmth and comfort. Earthy tones, natural finishes, and well-crafted imperfections can add character and charm to your space, making guests feel at ease and encouraging them to relax and enjoy the festivities without worrying about leaving a trace. Of course, as we’ll delve into below, there are ways to embrace the white look.

Example: Maddux Creative embraces all white with textured warmth

Maddux Creative is an incredible studio that plays flawlessly with dimension, rhythm and colour. However, in the image below, we can see how you can play with a homelier, more “used” look while still incorporating limited colour palettes and white tones.

white living room
Interior design by Maddux Creative

10. Invest in storage, even if your client thinks they don’t need it

It might seem small, but storage is a crucial aspect of designing a party-ready home… Even if your client believes they have enough already! Parties and gatherings often involve various equipment, decorations, and seasonal items that require adequate storage when not in use. Designing integrated storage solutions, such as built-in cabinets, closets, and shelving, helps keep your home organised and clutter-free. We’d recommend going for concealed storage options in communal areas to maintain a seamless and tidy appearance while having all the necessary supplies readily accessible when the occasion arises.

Example: Smart storage solutions by Jonathan Tuckey

London-based Jonathan Tuckey Design showcases below how important it is to incorporate storage space in living areas, even going as far as creating huge structures to support this goal. We love this streamlined design for the party goer clients around.

integrated storage
Design by Jonathan Tuckey Design