After I finished last week’s episode, I thought of a few more design features you should consider for your home if entertaining friends and family is important to you. If you didn’t get a chance to listen last week, check out episode 126 called Designing your Home for Entertaining and Family Gatherings.
Here are a few more entertaining design features.
1. Bullnose corners. Bullnose corners provide an alternative to sharp, square drywall corners. Because bullnose corners can take a beating better than standard squared off corners, they’re a great feature to include in a house designed for entertaining. Bullnose corners are curved and give walls a softened, higher end look. But they’re also strong and can hold up to people repeatedly bumping into them. The more often you entertain, the more often your drywall corners will get bumped. And the more often your corners get bumped, the more likely the corners are to get damaged. It’s much easier to chip and nick standard squared off corners as compared to strong bullnose corners. If you plan to entertain regularly, investing in upgraded bullnose corners makes sense.
Bullnose corner pieces are made of metal, vinyl and paper-faced beads. Typically, metal bullnose is used in commercial construction, vinyl in residential construction and paper-faced when doing repairs. Installation is more reliable using staples instead of adhesive or setting the pieces in drywall mud. The bullnose pieces come in several sizes, from broad, exaggerated curves to minimally curved pieces, sometimes called “baby bullnose.”
2. Built-in Speakers. Built-in speakers (both indoor and outdoor) are obviously not a must, but definitely a nice feature to have if you like background music playing during your get-togethers. There are many systems to choose from, including wireless and wired speaker systems, and those that can play different music in different rooms. Talk to your electrician or audio visual specialist about the pros and cons of each option. Be warned though, that wireless systems, especially the lower end ones, notoriously have problems with sound output and sound quality, as other wireless signals often interfere with music output.
3. Sitting walls. Add a sitting wall to outside spaces, not only for architectural interest, but as a practical seating option for outdoor gatherings. Sitting walls are typically 18-24 inches high and made of brick or stone. They can be used to outline patios, firepit areas or a pool. If you want a taller, fence-like option, you can add a railing to the top edge of a 18-24 inch sitting wall. That way, your guests can still sit down on the wider base wall, but, with a top railing extending the height of the wall, you can keep pets and children in, and intruders out.
4. Double sinks. If you have the space and the budget, a second sink is a really nice extra, especially if you have more than one cook in the kitchen. The second sink doesn’t have to be full sized. It can be a smaller vegetable or bar sink that’s located steps away from your main clean up sink. That second sink can be used to rinse vegetables, wash hands and stack dirty dishes during a party while the main sink is in use. If you don’t have the space for a second sink, you might think about making your main sink a double bowl sink with two separate faucets.
5. Double ovens. For the same reasons an extra sink would be helpful for entertaining and holiday dinners, a second oven would be too. Often, we have more dishes to bake than we have oven space. In addition, different dishes sometimes need to be baked at different temperatures, so having a second oven is ideal. No necessary, but ideal. Traditionally, when we think of double ovens, we imagine double wall ovens. And that’s great option. But you can also get ranges with double ovens. Even some standard, 4 burner ranges now have double ovens. If space and money are tight, consider buying a combination microwave/convection oven as your second oven, or a counter top convection oven.
6. A butler's pantry. A butler's pantry sounds fancy, and I guess it kind of is, but it’s also really practical for those who entertain a lot. It doesn’t have to be a huge space. You can simply expand your regular kitchen pantry, or use a small hall near the kitchen or dining room. Typically equipped with counters, a small sink, and storage space for platters and extra dinnerware, a butler's pantry is usually tucked away and out of sight of guests, so messes can be made by you or caterers without your guests seeing. You might also include a second under- counter or full-sized fringe. A butler's pantry helps to keep your main kitchen less cluttered and more tidy during parties.
7. Space to expand your dining table. Ok, an expandable dining table is a given if you’re planning to have holiday dinners or dinner parties. But when I say “space to expand your dining table”, I don’t just mean having enough room to add one or 2 extension leaves to your table. I’m talking about having enough room to significantly enlarge your dining table by adding another full-sized table. But you’ll have to make sure you have sufficient space in a room adjacent to your dining room for the temporarily enlarged table. Position your dining room so you can extend the dining table into an adjoining living area during dinner parties. Then butt the ends of the tables together, producing for an extra long banquet style table. Or connect the extra table to your regular table to form an L or T configuration. That way all, or most adults, can dine together. That’s a good way for all your guests to enjoy each other’s company. Having a few guests at the dining table, a few guests on the sofa and a few guests in the breakfast nook is ok, but it’s not as fun as having everyone sit together.
Your extra table can be a folding table that you can stored in the garage or attic until needed. There are also tables on the market that can convert from a entry or living room console table into a dining table. Add stackable or folding chairs, occasional chairs, benches, garden stools and ottomans for the extra seating.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
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