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A flexible bench allows guests to face the sofa or the dining table to participate in conversations or games on either side of the space.
Beth Singer/Margeaux Interiors

The Detroit News: For the Holidays, Make the Little Things Count

The Detroit News // December 2023

To welcome guests with open arms this holiday season and beyond, you can enhance your home with new decor or repurpose existing pieces. Whether you turn a current dresser into a bar area or add some flexible end tables to the mix, your visitors will appreciate the details.

“To create that warmth and magic in a home, people can definitely upgrade what they have and make improvements without a lot of expense,” says Pam Edwards, interior designer for Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design in Novi. “You can add some luxury items like faux fur throws, pillows and beautiful artwork. Mirrors can also enhance a home. They can go above a chest or a console table where you can add a tray with battery candles accented with greens and champagne twinkling twigs.”

When entertaining, seating and surfaces become essential. “Bar carts are wonderful because they are mobile and help to serve food or dessert or drinks,” says Edwards. “In the kitchen, where a lot of people gather, you can reupholster your bar or counter stools. Or you can reupholster your dining room seats and add a new area rug under the table.”

Accent pieces that come in handy for holiday entertaining include cocktail ottomans with leather tops that are readily available. “You can serve on them on trays very nicely and you don’t have to worry about spillage because they wipe clean easily. Upholstered pieces like these offer a great surface for trays and charcuterie boards,” she says.

With buffet-style spreads, Edwards says a dessert station or a coffee bar can go inside a tall cabinet with doors where items can be tucked away when not in use. Console tables can also double as serving pieces when entertaining.

For overnight stays, she says a guest room should feel good when you enter. “You can update with new lamps to add ambiance and a welcoming glow to the space,” says Edwards. “If you have room, a comfortable chair or a bench at the end of the bed is a nice idea for a guest room. With a small table – sometimes even cocktail tables are sufficient in a cramped space – your guests can sit and work on an iPad.”

Lighting can set the tone for other areas as well. “If you have table lamps and you need more serving space, you can move them and put a floor lamp in their place,” she says. “Tall thin lamps with simple shades are trending and gold lamps are quite popular. They add some elegance to an interior during the holidays.”

Comfort and joy

Following a first-floor renovation in a Birmingham home, the main spaces became more conducive to entertaining. “We repurposed the media cabinet in the family room for a dishware/glassware cabinet and buffet in the dining area where the kitchen nook dining set became a game table that can handle overflow for entertaining,” says Margaret Skinner, interior designer and principal of Margeaux Interiors in Birmingham who worked on the project.

Lighting can set the tone for other areas as well. “If you have table lamps and you need more serving space, you can move them and put a floor lamp in their place,” she says. “Tall thin lamps with simple shades are trending and gold lamps are quite popular. They add some elegance to an interior during the holidays.”

A new bar cart adds another flexible element. “The space used to be a formal dining room that wasn’t really used,” she says. “Now it works for entertaining. You can play games at the table and it’s much more relaxed.”

The new kitchen configuration features a custom end cabinet that provides additional storage and serves as a charcuterie/wine tasting area. “We wanted to gain a little more space on the island and it’s so versatile,” Skinner says about the new piece made with Perspectives Cabinetry in Troy.

A scullery has multiple functions. “The scullery is more of a breakfast bar where you can grab coffee and a bagel in the morning and by night it’s more of a serving and bar area. It’s great for entertaining,” she says. “They have a good size family and they like to gather everyone together during the holidays.”

The new banquette in the kitchen nook was another upgrade. “It’s a great feature that allows for additional seating. It’s a very comfortable environment,” adds Skinner.

Pieces that surround permanent features like these can be adaptable when entertaining. “If you need more space for serving, you can move the counter stools away from the kitchen island,” she says. “A banquette is also great for that because you can move the table or the chairs. A bar cart gives a lot of flexibility because you can move it into different rooms and serve different items.”

In the living room, an upholstered bench can also accommodate different scenarios. “You can sit on it and be facing the sofa to be in that conversation, or if you’re involved in a game with people at the table, you can sit on the other side,” says Skinner. “The bench is very versatile, plus it’s easy to move.”

Lastly, a simple update to the chandelier in the dining area did away with the shades that were faded. “When you take them off, it just creates a whole new light fixture,” she says.

Season’s greetings

To welcome guests, Michele Hinds, owner of the Vines Flower & Garden Shop in Farmington says you can add new elements to your outdoor containers to update your entrance. “That way, you are utilizing your pots that you already may have and adding evergreens, berries, branches and pine cones,” she says.

You can also elevate your indoor arrangements without spending a lot in the process. “People can bring in their glass bowls or an old silver piece or little pitcher and we will design arrangements right inside their container, so you’re saving the cost of another vase and using something that might be mom’s or grandma’s piece that you wouldn’t necessarily think to use,” she says. “You can repurpose them for the holidays.”

Holiday decorations you already have can also be enhanced. “Add a bunch of pretty evergreens, real or faux, and artificial berries and painted twigs to an existing wreath,” says Hinds. “We have different evergreen branches that look real. You can also add some fresh ones to an artificial wreath for a nice scent.”

Hostess gifts can help others update their holiday décor. “Candles are wonderful, from little votives to seasonal scents,” says Hinds. “You can put a sweet little ornament with a votive candle in a small bag or tie a little ornament onto a bottle of wine.”

Christmas mugs and cocktail napkins also make great hostess gifts for those who like to entertain during the holiday season, when natural elements can be another thoughtful gesture. “Fresh floral arrangements can be as simple as a pretty white rose with pine to a bouquet,” says Hinds.

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle.
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