Dinner party

In an increasingly online world, there is something beautiful about the act of gathering friends and family together for meaningful, face-to-face interactions.

Whether that be through hosting a dinner with friends, a game night, or a festive celebration, the room you choose to hold these gatherings plays an important role in creating the perfect setting for socialisation and entertainment.

To help explain how to create the ideal home entertainment space, HSL has partnered with popular home renovator Greg Penn, also known as “Man With a Hammer” by his 250K+ Instagram followers. Taking lessons from renovating his 30 room home, Greg has shared the 6 steps everyone should follow when looking to create a social living space that is perfect for hosting.

1. Utilise pattern and colour 

Greg states: “Obviously this is subjective, but to me, a room full of colour and pattern is immediately welcoming, homely and relaxing, which helps to create the sort of environment that friends and family quickly sink into.

“It stops things from feeling too stuffy or sterile by providing visual interest that’s both stimulating and comfortable. It helps to shape an environment in which you’re not afraid to kick your shoes off and put your feet up! It also has the added benefit of disguising the occasional spill!”

Leanne Eastwood, Commercial Director at HSL, shares: “Timeless prints, like colourful florals for the more adventurous, or perhaps classic stripes for those who favour more simplistic designs, help to create warmth in a room and add interest.”

2. Complimentary, but not ‘matching’ furniture 

Greg explains: “A three-piece suite may be the easy option, but it leaves a space looking unconsidered and very one-dimensional. Instead, choose pieces that work together, but don’t match – it could be furniture from the same range, but in different colours and fabrics, or different pieces but all from a similar period to ensure cohesion.

“Equally, throwing something completely different into the mix can work too – a big, comfortable country house sofa paired with an armchair with a much lighter footprint and a mid-century feel can feel fun and informal. An exception to this is a pair of something – a couple of wingback chairs for example, in the right setting, are incredibly pleasing and inviting!”

Leanne adds: “Don’t be afraid to seamlessly mix and match non patterned furniture with a standout, patterned centrepiece. For example, you could opt for a muted, unpatterned sofa, paired with a quintessentially British patterned armchair to provide a splash of character.” 

3. Think about spacing 

Greg stresses: “Often, in large spaces at least, the seating is much too far away from each other to promote conversation – there’s nothing more off-putting than having to shout, especially when there’s a few of you there! 

“Instead, group the furniture around a focal point, a fireplace for example, with a coffee table or a pouffe close enough to be useful when seated, bringing the furniture off the walls and zoning the space, perfect for chatting.”

4. Layer your lighting 

Greg shares: “The big light is great for when you need to find things, but it isn’t ideal for creating a cosy, welcoming environment for entertaining. Lamps are definitely your friend and are an easy, non-permanent way to create an atmosphere.

“I use smart, wireless bulbs, meaning I can turn them all on and off from my phone and effortlessly dim them. Candles are another great way to add to the ambience.”

5. Add ‘softness’ 

Greg says: “This is especially important in a room full of hard surfaces where sound tends to bounce around – adding textiles really helps create a much more appealing acoustic environment, something that’s frustratingly so often overlooked in public spaces, but is easy to get right at home. 

“There are so many ways you can introduce softness, for example through the means of rugs, thick curtains, throws, cushions, pleated lampshades and upholstered furniture. These all help to absorb sound and create the right environment for entertaining.”

Leanne adds: “Throws are a great way to add softness and look very luxurious draped over your cosy fireside chair or sofa. Not only do they look great, they’re also super practical and invite guests to cosy up and get comfortable.”

6. Create ambience through scent and sounds

Greg states: “This is an element that is often overlooked, but it’s one of the first things your guests will notice when walking into a room. You can build scent throughout your room through a reed or plug-in diffuser, as well as room sprays and scented candles.

“Choose a scent with a gentle aroma as anything too overpowering can overwhelm the senses. Subtle scents that are crowd pleasers include vanilla, lavender, and citrus, and are all very inviting.”

Greg adds: “Music, which isn’t too loud, also helps create a warm, relaxed environment that sets the tone. Try and think about your audience when choosing your playlist, but the likes of streaming apps like Spotify make this an absolute doddle.

“If there is going to be a lot of talking, try to opt for an instrumental playlist as songs with a lot of vocals can make conversating a lot more difficult, especially if you have older relatives who may be hard of hearing.”