It started with supper clubs where amateur party hosts invite diners into their own homes and it’s now evolving into an interior design concept revolving around contemporary furniture – where ordinary homes are transformed into hubs of entertainment taking direction from the hospitality industry. In the current volatile financial climate, a legion of creative consumers are focusing their amateur skills on their homes in a bid to ensure that the new need to stay in, becomes as satisfying as the old routine of going out.
So how do you create the sophisticated sparkle of hospitality in your home? Global Head of Visual Display at The Conran Shop, Betsy Smith gives her top 5 tips:
1. Set the mood: You don’t have to invest in top of the range equipment or fancy dinnerware but you need to get the look of your space exactly right. Lighting is key, as you really want to indicate a level of debauchery to create the perfect dinner party. Bright lights, clean lines and shiny surfaces are great by day, but for entertaining, intimate lighting, preferably candles in clusters on the table and an overhead light that can be dimmed right down to create the perfect balance of light and shadow is preferable. Candle light is very forgiving but low level overhead lighting will also ensure it doesn’t get too dark to see what you’re eating. Tiny pendant lamps in the room also give enough light to make the room feel like a cosy den.
2. Colour is Key: Rather than the large relaxed kitchen dining room that has become a way of modern living. Current trends focus on décor anchored in contrast rather than in compliments, mixing up palettes to spark interest rather than to play it safe. Moody hues such as greys, dark blues and blacks work brilliantly with lead red, oranges and sulpher yellow to create a zingy feel that smacks of a good party. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not brave enough to part with the neutral palette, enliven by using furniture pieces and soft furnishings to get the look.
3. Use Paint: Paint is the cheapest and most effective way of creating mood, Dark colours are sexy and sophisticated and make people feel that way too. Paint vertical stripes of gloss paint over matt paint in the same colour to create texture and a surface that will reflect low lighting and glasses ensuring the whole room sparkles.
4. The Unusual: Once you have the lighting and wall colour right, eccentric accessories and design details will create drama and interest in the space. While you want your space to feel comfy and relaxed – it should also be edgy and quirky enough to ensure it holds the attention and reflects the owners personality. Limited edition, one-off pieces by designer makers or junk shop finds that are beautiful and interesting to the eye, work perfectly and get people asking questions over the dinner table.
5. Comfort: Seating is key to the successful party. High backed chairs encourage guests to nestle in and get comfortable and huge squashy sofa’s give a sense of welcoming comfort. As long as you can get everyone to relax in your surroundings, you’ve got the key to the perfect night.
If you consider these top tips your dinner party is guaranteed to have a contemporary look and feel and inspire conversation over great food and drinks with friends, who knows you may even inspire some invites from some of your guests which will make life a little easier next time around!
Jonathan is a freelance writer who regularly hosts dinner parties