“You’re Doing It Wrong”: Designing Your Home for Entertaining and Socializing

When It Comes to Designing Your Home for Entertaining, Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Says You’re Doing It Wrong…

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While there’s nothing wrong with designing your home for entertaining, you may not be approaching socializing in your home from the best angle. Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel reflects on how we gather in our homes and shares a pared-down approach that gets back to the root of connection. 

“You’re Doing It Wrong”

“You’re Doing It Wrong” is a new blog series where I reassess interior design practices and home life in general. While the title is brash, it’s far from accusatory. Rather, this series invites us to reexamine how we approach life and design in our homes. Now, let’s find out what we’re doing wrong. 

Entertaining and the Need for Connection

Connection is a huge part of what makes us human. Whether we know it or not, we’re all hungry for a sense of community and ties to our neighbors, friends, and family. From the start of 2020 until recently, many of us have been isolated because of the pandemic. We learned a lot during our time apart, including the root of what matters in our connections. 

For me, I discovered a great deal about letting go. I let go of my need for a busy social calendar — finding an appreciation for quiet, taking time for new hobbies, and relishing quaint moments at home with my family. What a gift that turned out to be! That being said, I was eager to get back to connections with others outside my house — but in a different way. 

While I missed my pre-pandemic connections, I found that I didn’t miss yelling across the table in loud restaurants or attending house parties with strict agendas and themes requiring a prerequisite shopping trip at the mall. What I did miss was the genuine connection you get from spending time with someone in a more casual way  — catching up over an impromptu coffee in the breakfast nook rather than making small talk with a martini in hand. I wanted to let go of the fluff around entertaining, but more on that later. 

Designing a Home to Entertain

Because of the human need for connection, we often design our homes around entertaining. As an interior designer, I help people think about their design needs and how they want to gather in their homes. I consider everything, including: 

  • How many people can you fit around the dining room table?  
  • Is there an indoor-outdoor connection between the living room and patio? 
  • Who will watch the game in what chair? 
  • How far will you be from the TV when you sit around the coffee table for game night? 
  • Will the butler’s pantry fit all the platters and dishes that come out for the holidays? 
  • Will the family need two ovens or two dishwashers for Thanksgiving dinner? 

We interior designers consider it all! However, what many of us get wrong (homeowners and designers included) is the root of what a party needs to be successful. Spoiler alert — it’s not an open-concept kitchen

Lost Creek By Amity Worrel

What You’re Doing Wrong: Not Every Gathering Needs to Be an Event 

It’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of entertaining, selecting themes that require guests to dress up like Audrey Hepburn on a Thursday night or blowing your renovation budget on an eight-burner range you’ll use one burner of for 99% of the year. Our biggest mistake is forgetting the accidental entertaining we do, which often is the most memorable. There’s something fulfilling about the “friends popped in, and we heated up frozen pizza” kind of party. Where board games come out, wine is poured, and soon enough, you have a few rounds of Clue and laughter under your belt and a strong sense of connected wellbeing.  

There is a place for fancy dinner parties, cocktail attire dress codes, and place cards at the table. However, what we get wrong is not creating enough opportunities (and spaces) to get together without all the pressure. My mom always said, “People love to be invited over.” She was right! Your friends want to see you, even when you have dishes in the sink and mail stacked on the kitchen table. Remember, not every gathering needs to be an event with mailed invitations and RSVP cards. Sometimes you can just say, “come on by” when you get the itch for good conversation and cheap wine. 

The Solution: Set the Bar Low

So, what’s the solution to no-pressure entertaining at home? Ditch the fluff and set the bar low! If we set the bar just a little lower for what needs to be done in order to socialize, we would all be a little happier, less stressed, and much more connected. Let go of your perfectionism. You don’t have to have a clean house, the perfect decorations, a new renovation, or a manicured lawn to entertain. So, what can we do? 

You just need to open your doors and tell people to “come on over.” Let go of cooking the five-course meal and bring in catering, buy frozen pizza, or even make it a potluck. In our busy world, it’s difficult to make plans and align schedules. Rather than opening Pandora’s Box of coordinating calendars, take an “open house” approach. Set a date and welcome anyone who can swing by. I intend to start a tradition of Second Sunday Suppers, hosting a standing list of invitees who can make it as well as any last-minute impromptu visitors. All are welcome. If someone can’t make it, they can come around for the next one. 

My Guest List Now Includes Unfolded Laundry and Dirty Dishes

Don’t try to plan the perfect party. Just create a means to connect. When you come over for Second Sunday Supper, I guarantee you that all my laundry will not be put away and the floors will not be freshly mopped. While this might sound scandalous to the host-with-the-most type, I can also guarantee you that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is the connections we foster. When I look back, I’ll remember the laughter around my table with friends and family, not whether or not I had my windows washed before company came over. 

I’ve made room on the guest list for laundry piles and dirty dishes, which are welcome additions to my party.  


Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.