Design + Build, Houseplans

Designing a Home that Works Perfectly During the Holidays (and the Rest of the Year, Too!)

It’s that time of year again – when families and friends gather to celebrate the Season. For many, that means dusting off the formal living spaces you might not use much of the year (read: cleaning off the dining room table for the first time in months). For many others, it means wishing for additional space – for entertaining, and for hosting out-of-town guests. 

Our team of builders and designers are especially familiar with this challenge. We often build homes for clients building a retirement home or a second home in the mountains, and how the home is designed often circulates around these two statements:

1.) we need space for out of town guests and entertaining

2.) but we don’t have guests all the time, and we don’t want wasted space. 


Lots of time, that means thinking creatively and strategically about how a home’s layout can expand to comfortably accommodate guests and the Holidays. Read on to learn more about how our experts design homes that work perfectly during the Holidays, and during the rest of the year, too. 


1.) Think About the Kitchen First

The only saying, “the kitchen is the heart of the home” is really true, especially in designing a home fit for entertaining. Why? Chances are,if you’re entertaining, there will be food involved (even if it’s just snacks, or drinks).

“One of my biggest recommendations if you entertain a lot is to design space for seating in and around the kitchen. The open concept floor plan is beginning to fall out of trend – and everyone has differing opinions about that – but if you entertain, as the host, you want to create space where at least part of your guests can join you in the kitchen without feeling like they’re in your way” says Lindsey Kehres, Interior Designer.  

Other ways to equip a kitchen for entertaining? 


  1. Think about planning a space for a second dishwasher: They’re a relatively affordable appliance, and if it means keeping your kitchen in better order while entertaining, definitely worth it! 
  2. Add a “back kitchen” or butler’s pantry (and customize it to the way YOU entertain!)
  3. Use your kitchen island to achieve your goals: don’t just automatically go with the usual kitchen island design. Think about how you want your kitchen to flow, and consider whether two islands (like this), a U-shaped island, an island with a center break, or some other creative approach may be best for you. 


2.) Plan for “Entertaining Stations”

“A wet bar with drinks and snacks or even just a seating space arranged around a bar cart will do wonders for traffic flow as you’re hosting. Guests really want to be directed as to where they should go when they enter your home. Setting up stations, like a wet bar or bar cart, is your way of directing them. Also, most guests won’t come to the kitchen while the meal is in process, so this way they can find a snack and be content prior to the main event”. 


3.) Use Your Outdoor Spaces

A properly equipped outdoor space can be the perfect place for groups of your guests. “Put a TV on a screened porch or 3 season room with some snacks and warm blankets, and you have the perfect gathering space for the men or the kids. You really just want to think ahead and sort of designate specific areas for groups of your guests and think about what would draw them to that space” says Lindsey. 


4.) Open Floorplan vs. Traditional For Entertaining

There is a significant trend in the design and architecture industries away from the open-concept house design. Some still greatly prefer an open-concept home, and we find a hybrid is usually a helpful approach. If you’re someone who loves to entertain, there are a few things to consider about the design of your home’s layout. 

“If you have, or you’re planning for an open-concept home, remember that there is inevitably a lot of echoing, and with everyone in one or two rooms, it can feel loud and overwhelming” says Lindsey. “Even if you go with an open concept design, you want to designate separate or distinct spaces with seating”. 

“If you’re someone who likes to host elegant or elevated dining experiences, you’ll want to think about separating the dining area from the rest of the home. Even with an open concept floor plan, there are some ways to do this – a half wall, a glass partition, and more. But, be very honest about the type of entertaining you like to do and don’t opt for a floorplan that doesn’t create that environment” says Kelsey. 

“I’m honestly a big proponent of and love traditional floor plans” says Jessica, Design + Build Manager, “I love giving guests an experience of progressing through the home rather than stepping inside and just experiencing everything all at once. But even with that said, there are definitely ways to make open concept plans more engaging, and traditional plans more open-feeling for entertaining”.


5.) Strategy for Hosting Out of Town Guests

If you’re someone who hosts out of town guests, designing your home to fit the needs of those guests while also making sure you don’t have lots of unused space is essential. 

“If you’re building a retirement home and your children are grown or if you don’t use secondary bedrooms often, one of the things we do most often is put everything the homeowners need on the main floor, with the secondary living spaces downstairs. This works especially well in the mountains where we’re often building homes on a basement, but the same can be true for putting secondary living space on the second floor of a home” says Design + Build Manager, Jessica Coogan. “If you can, always plan for en-suite bathrooms for guest bedrooms, or at the very least, a jack-n-jill style bath so that guests don’t have to leave their room to reach their designated bathroom”. 

“If you can, always put a wet bar or a small kitchenette in the spaces where your guest bedrooms are – you want to give people some time to themselves and not feel like they have to come to the main living space for essentials, like a glass of water or their first cup of coffee. If you don’t have space or budget for these things, even just a little coffee station and an under-the-counter refrigerator will do the trick” says Kelsey. 


6.) How to Use Extra Guest Spaces when They Aren’t in Use

Some of our clients love for their guest spaces to remain unused throughout the year so that there is no transition period, and they are ready to go anytime an overnight guest may pop by. If you prefer to make daily use of the extra spaces of your home, here are some ideas: 

  1. Design your guest bedrooms with high quality, comfortable murphy beds. This way, the rooms can be used as offices, reading rooms, or for other uses when you don’t have guests. 
  2. Plan the room to have enough space for a stationary desk or small seating area, and you’ll be surprised how much you may use the space on a routine basis.
  3. Use modular furniture or custom cabinetry to have space for using the room in creative ways (like sewing, crafts, etc.), but easily close the mess away when you have guests. 
  4. A guest bedroom on the main floor can easily be used as a playroom, library, or sitting room most of the year, and transformed to a guest room when needed with the proper furniture. 
  5. Built-in window seats or built-in window desks can transform guest bedrooms into lovely spaces to escape or get things done on a routine basis. 
  6. Bunk rooms for grandkids can be furnished with a couch and TV for a secondary living room space 
  7. Thinking in reverse: have a long bonus room with sloping ceilings?  Use  Murphy bed chests placed along the walls to create a bunk room with plenty of room for kids.

Have a question about building or designing a custom home or commercial project? Leave your questions here, and they may be answered by our expert staff in our next blogs or newsletter!


Contact Us today to get started planning your dream home.


Buchanan Construction is a full-service, award winning construction firm offering a vast array of services including Custom Luxury Homes, Semi-Custom Homes, Luxury Renovations, Commercial Construction, and Community / Planned Development Construction. As a custom home builder in Asheville, our dedicated team of over 40 experienced professionals guide clients through the construction process from concept to completion. With an all-inclusive design/build approach, on-staff interior designers, and exclusive project management software, our team strives to provide our clientele with an exceptional construction experience.  Located in Asheville, NC, we serve Asheville, Hendersonville, Cashiers, and the greater Western North Carolina region.