I love the holiday season. It’s a great time to catch up with friends and family, enjoy delicious foods and make merry. But, it can also be really stressful if you have to convert an already cramped home into a hotel and banquet hall. I know, I’ve been there. So, when we rebuilt our house, we used these experiences to inform the design process and ensure, going forward, that the holiday seasons and family visits would be more joyful and less chaotic. We wanted to make holiday entertaining easy. The new home achieves this even though it is not substantially bigger. How? Through thoughtful design that maximizes the house’s footprint and allows us to host guests more comfortably.

Here are three ways we made the most of our footprint to host family and friends more comfortably over the holiday season.

Guest Room Separation

What makes our guest room work really well is its separation, with its own bath, from the family bedrooms by an entire floor. Previously, all bedrooms were on a single floor and our guests were required to share the family bathroom.  This was a little too ‘cozy’ for everyone’s comfort.  We needed a better solution.  One that would allow us to have overnight guests in a way that would permit everyone to enjoy the visit more.  The trick was making the lower level a very livable and inviting space, and adding a bedroom and bath for guests.  This gave everyone more privacy and space.

Double-duty Away Room

Another option for even more guests is a sleeper sofa (pull-out couch) in a sitting room on the lower level — one of our Away Rooms — providing a queen size bed. As required, this offers a second guest room on the lower level with easy access to the floor’s bathroom. The key here is that this lower level is livable and inviting with under floor heating and a backyard walkout. These types of features are incorporated more easily when rebuilding and pouring a new foundation. They eliminate that “underground” atmosphere and we don’t feel like we’ve stuck our guests in a basement.

Open-Concept Space for Entertaining

The third entertaining strategy was to combine the kitchen and dining space into a single large room. Parties always end up in the kitchen anyway, right? It has great light and built-in seating and storage along the walls. In the open space we can accommodate a table for 8 throughout the year, plus there is a breakfast bar with room for three. If we need even more space for entertaining, we can also add a collapsible table using the built-in bench seating.

Whether for our family only or guests, we designed The Benson to allow flexible space for being together, as well as separate rooms for quiet and privacy.

Holiday entertaining can be really lovely. Take advantage of the season. You don’t need a really large home with rooms that are used once or twice a year. Using thoughtful design and creative strategies, there are ways to work with smaller spaces and live more sustainably, while avoiding the additional costs of larger homes. The important thing is to enjoy being together and to make memories to last a lifetime. If you want to learn more about the Benson or how to create an urban retreat of your own, contact me any time.