Prepare your house for the hosting season with some simple improvements.
Many of us know the feeling of unease that can come over us when we’re away from home for the holidays. Regardless of whether you’re visiting new or longtime loved ones, different variables can create an overwhelming feeling of homesickness. But what stirs this feeling? And how can we prepare our houses for visitors in a way that makes them feel at ease?
“I always try to talk to clients about form versus functionality—that something can look beautiful, but if it’s not comfortable for guests, then it doesn’t really work,” says Jennifer Stanek Anderson, the Stillwater interior designer behind Whitley Evans Home. “You want your home to be artistic and an expression of you, but you want it to also be a place where people feel … warm and cozy and … could sit there for hours with a glass of wine.”
The formula for cozy all comes down to our senses, Stanek Anderson says, specifically the use of light, sound and textures. “As a host, think about appealing to all the senses as someone encounters your home,” she says. “Don’t just focus on the visual.”
Start by switching off your overhead lights to embrace lamps and side lighting. “This helps calm the space and creates a sense of peace in a room,” Stanek Anderson says. “Yes, buy that beautiful, expensive chandelier that looks gorgeous—but don’t turn it on; turn on lamps and create a glow that goes across a room.“
Set the tone of your gathering and help your guests avoid dead space in conversation by adding smart speakers to your common areas. “Consider having soft music flowing through the space,” Stanek Anderson says. “If there’s music in the background, it’s always going to help fill those empty holes and just make the space feel more comfortable as people are getting to know each other.”
Let go of perfection and buy things you love in a variety of textures and materials. Don’t shop at one place for your interior décor, Stanek Anderson advises. “By pulling pieces together from different stores, you create a curated look that is elevated and appealing while representing you,” she says. “Mix your woods and your metals—don’t just stick with one look. Gone are the days of all of the woods in one room matching. And all of the metals in your space don’t have to match either.”
Add moveable pieces to encourage your guests to settle in. “There are easy go-to solutions, like soft throw blankets and pillows, but think about how your guests are interacting with the space,” Stanek Anderson says. “Buy some ottomans that can float around the room, so guests can prop up their feet or have a place to sit if there is no furniture space left.
“These are ideas to help your guests feel more comfortable, but one of the things that’s going to make your guests feel the most comfortable is if you’re comfortable,” Stanek Anderson says. “[Your guests] are there to see you. And your home is there to be a reflection of you and be the ambiance … Remember, you are the star of the show. Your home is your accessory.”
Whitley Evans Home LLC