They want to live, work and play at home. But the play component of life ranks high on the priority list. They’re people who want the ultimate entertaining home, whether inviting another couple, an entire family or 50 to 100 close friends for a holiday celebration or an open-house style birthday party.
They are in luck. Builders today offer floor plans for buyers’ needs. But the extended variety of home plans — and options for customizations in each of them — can be mind-boggling. Several Bay Area and Northern California builders are offering options for new-home buyers who like to entertain.
By pairing individual style with builders’ options, buyers can create the flexible spaces they need for parties and gatherings.
Gather in style
Because the kitchen serves as the center of most homes, even if the homeowners aren’t big on culinary skills, a few key options for entertainers include placement of counter space, tables and access to outside.
The large center island is a must-have, if possible, ideally with more than the required 4 to 5 feet on all sides of the island. For those who cook while they entertain, consider designs in which the oven and range are positioned out of the flow of traffic.
The center island not only serves as a gathering space, but a terrific place to spread out food and beverage service. Consider installing counters large enough for bar-style seating with stools to accommodate up to four people.
In some homes, this setup might eliminate the need for a large kitchen table; a smaller family might instead opt for a cafe table near the window that can be removed to free up space before entertaining.
Provide plenty of seating — both indoors and out. Three or four stools at the kitchen island create a perfect hangout space.
Inside, consider gathering spaces for two to four people. Outside, sprinkle seating areas in clusters of different amounts — two, four, eight and more.
While hardscape can include valuable built-in seating outside, create other spaces for two or more, positioned away from the door to the inside. Doing so will prevent traffic jams at the door.
Where possible, create shaded areas under permanent structures such as gazebos or under shade sails with poles that can be moved or adjusted as the sun moves.
Traffic jams in the kitchen and by the sliding doors to the patio don’t have to be inevitable. Look at options for kitchen cabinet configurations and tell the builder’s design center experts that you prioritize flow and movement.
Frequent entertainers might consider placing cabinets with the most-often used items either on the outside of the island or at the end of banks of cabinetry.
Wine glasses, for instance, can be hung within cabinetry encasements above the end of a kitchen counter. If that’s not an option, purchase or design a counter-height table using elements from your kitchen design. Pull it out for parties and place it at the end of the counter to hold pitchers of water, glassware, ice and other tools for beverage making.
Utilize the kitchen table, the outside of the island or a peninsula counter for displays of serving platters. Keep traffic moving by putting plates and bowls at the beginning of the food-service flow and eating utensils and napkins at the end or near the seating areas.
Will the home have a California Room with additional yard space beyond it? For larger gatherings, position pairs of patio seating away from the California Room space in the yard or near the fence.
Doing so lures guests out into other spaces and encourages more enjoyable conversations in comfortable places.
Prewire for sound and light
People congregate where there’s light. Let guests, and yourself, feel comfortable by working with the builder before construction to plan indoor and outdoor wiring for lights.
Garden lighting can be controlled by a timer set to turn on at dusk; outdoor lighting at tables may require additional exterior outlets. Also consider power needs for motorized outdoor bug screens and motorized shades both inside and out.
Determine in advance if, while entertaining, you like to provide background music audible to all guests. Discuss built-in options and compare them to portable Bluetooth speaker systems.
Ask builders about suggested wiring for home theater systems both inside and outside. Movie screenings on cool summer nights are a wonderful way to end a lovely evening with friends.