Furniture for the Holidays
Entertaining during the winter holidays is a deep-rooted tradition. For generations, friends and families have gathered to enjoy a special meal, reminisce about fond memories and celebrate the imminent New Year. Gifts are typically exchanged, and there is often an abundance of food and drinks on hand. However, getting ready for this type of celebration can mean having to redesign or rearrange rooms in your home to accommodate your guests, especially those staying with you from out of town.
The average number of guests invited to a traditional holiday party is 47, although not everyone typically attends. Even so, that is a lot of people to host in one home. You will want to take a look at the main rooms of your house where guests will congregate and determine if you have enough space and, more importantly, enough furniture to accommodate all those party-goers.
Even if you have an intimate number of guests, you still want to look at how your dining room, living room and guest bedroom are set up and ask yourself, “What furniture do I need for the holidays?” Remember, your furniture reflects your personality, your memories and your experiences. You may not see it, but others will when they walk into your home. Don’t try to be a trend-setting fashionista to impress your guests when you are happier simply being a minimalist.
As the holidays quickly approach, many people consider purchasing a bigger dining room table to accommodate larger groups of guests. You will also want a table that can be downsized for smaller gatherings simply by removing a leaf or two from the tabletop. Consider these options before buying:
- Shape: Dining room tables come in four distinct shapes: rectangle, square, oval and round. The rounded tables are good for small gatherings, but if the table is too big, your guests will have a hard time holding a conversation across the table. Oval or round dining room tables with seating for 12 are physically larger than a rectangular table with the same amount of seats. So, if you plan on entertaining a large group, go for the rectangle style. Medium-sized groups would fare well with an oval table, while small groups would do best with square or round tables.
- Material: The material of the dining room table should match what is in the rest of your house. Mahogany and walnut have a formal feel, while oak, cherry and pine offer a more casual and relaxed appearance. With high-quality, handmade Amish furniture, you wont have to worry about craftsmanship. These solid wood furnishings are made in the United States and will last for generations.
- Style: The style of your dining room table should also match with what you have in the rest of the dining room. Antique tables have beautiful, handcrafted workmanship and make you feel a rich sense of history. Contemporary furniture doesn’t show this same craftsmanship. An expandable table – the kind with removable leaves – would best serve holiday gatherings of various sizes.
When considering chairs for a dining room table, you will want to find some that are both stylish and comfortable. Especially during holiday parties, guests seem to congregate around the dining room table to eat and have conversations. Factor in these thoughts when looking for chairs:
- Size: Make sure you know the size of your table and the size of your room when you go looking for chairs, as this will determine what you get. You also need to keep in mind what you will do with extra chairs if your table is not fully extended all the time. To choose a number, calculate the space between the chairs as well as the space the chair will occupy.
- Arms: It is customary to have arms on chairs that sit at the head and foot of a table, but depending on your style and space, you can choose to have those kind all around the table. Armchairs are more comfortable and make standing up out of the chair easier, too.
- Style: The style of your chairs should match that of your table. If you have a formal table, you need formal chairs. Choose from open, solid-back, upholstered or solid wood chairs.
- Material: Wooden chairs are your best option for a dining table as they should match the wood, color and design of your table. If you choose upholstered chairs, this will give you an opportunity to match the pattern and color with other designs in the room.
To make sure your table and chairs will fit nicely into your dining room, follow these guidelines:
- Leave at least 36 inches between the table and the walls or other pieces of furniture to allow for chairs to slide out.
- Make sure to leave about 48 inches between the table and the entrance to allow guests to enter and exit the room easily.
- Chairs and chair arms should easily slide under the table. Leave about 7 inches between the arm of a chair and the apron of the table.
- Chandeliers should be hung between 24 inches and 32 inches above the center of the table to get the best light.
- An area rug should be about 36 inches wider than the table so chairs can slide in and out without catching.
- There should be about 24 inches of space between chairs to avoid elbow hitting or bruised knuckles.
If your living room furniture is looking worn or drab and you want to update before the holidays, there are many options to consider. However, before you head out to the nearest furniture store, heed these guidelines:
- Measure the room: Measure the length and width of the room, accounting for the dimensions of any alcoves or recessed spaces.
- Create a floor plan: Determine how much space you need for holiday furniture, sketching a few different plans. Make sure to leave ample space between the pieces of furniture.
- Check doorways: Make sure they are large enough to accommodate the bigger pieces of furniture you may buy.
- Think about how the room is used: Will your guests be gathering in this room during a party or will they stay in the dining room or outside? This will determine the amount and type of furniture you buy for the holidays.
- Christmas tree: Will you have enough space to put up a Christmas tree? Make sure to sketch that into your plans.
Now that you’ve designed your room, the next step is to actually purchase the furniture. Start with the basics:
From there, look for investment pieces that are solid pieces with wood frames and sinuous steel springs. These may cost more, but the quality and workmanship are worth it as they tend to hold up better and longer. Once you find those pieces, take this information into consideration:
- Make sure fabrics on upholstered furniture are stain-resistant but of high-quality.
- Ensure that cushions are made of a wrapped foam, which makes them more durable and comfortable.
- Test the strength of the frame of a sofa or chair by lifting one leg about six inches off the ground and making sure the adjacent legs rise as well.
- Coordinate your pieces so they complement each other.
- Match the theme you have in the rest of the house.
- Select a loveseat instead of a sofa if you have a smaller space.
To make the most of the space in your living room, consider these design guidelines:
- Allow 18 inches between the coffee table and sofa edge. This allows for adequate leg room but keeps the coffee table close enough that placing drinks or food on the table is easy. Keep the height of your coffee table within four inches of the height of the sofa’s seat.
- Aim to allow between 3.5 feet and 10 feet between seating to allow good conversation flow.
- An end table should be about as high as the arm of a chair or sofa.
- Leave about 7 feet between the television and seating options.
- There should be about 24 inches between the edge of a rug and the wall for a large room, and 12 inches to 18 inches for a small room.
- Make sure to tuck the edges of throw rugs under the legs of a chair or sofa to prevent them from becoming a tripping hazard.
When selecting guest bedroom furniture, you want to find pieces that will make your guests feel comfortable and at home. This will take the stress out of their visit, especially if they are spending the holidays away from home. Simply focus on these essentials:
- Comfortable bed: This is the most important piece of furniture you can provide to your guests. They will rest easy and get a good night’s sleep. If your guest room is smaller, consider a futon, a daybed with a trundle or a sofa bed.
- Chest of drawers: This is another must-have in a guest room. A well-crafted oak or cherry dresser is perfect for storing clothes and other belongings so your guests won’t have to live out of a suitcase while they are visiting.
- Cozy chair: A comfortable recliner or armchair is greatly appreciated when your guests want a little private time to read or make a phone call.
- Nightstand: This item should be made of high-quality wood and can hold a small reading lamp.
Quality Is Key
Even if you are in a hurry to find a new dining room table or sofa, you will want to make sure what you purchase is high quality. Consumers want it and are shopping for it. In fact, consumers have increased the amount of money they spend on furniture every year since 2009. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to know just by looking if your new furniture will last two years or 20 years. Here are some things to pay attention to:
- Composition of wood furniture: You want to find wood that is mostly scratch-resistant. If you take your fingernail to the wood, does it leave an indentation? If it does, it will not stand up to heavy use. You want furniture that is either solid wood or sturdy plywood (at least nine layers). Check for knots, as those are susceptible to cracks. Avoid fiberboard, pressed wood and particleboard.
- Construction of wood furniture: You want to take a look at the joints to determine the furniture’s quality. Anything held together with nails or staples is poor workmanship. The same goes for pieces that are glued to the point that you can see the glue. Dowels, screws, dovetail (interlocking square teeth) or mortise-and-tenon (narrow end inserted in hole) are better choices. Drawers on cabinets and dressers should run smoothly on glides and come with stops so they aren’t prone to being pulled all the way out. Make sure the piece of furniture does not wobble when the corners are pressed. Amish-made furniture, for instance, provides a quality and long-lasting appeal you won’t find anywhere else.
- Composition of upholstered furniture: For a piece of furniture with removable cushions, unzip the cover and take a look inside. Quality cushions have a block of foam wrapped with cotton, down, Dacron and muslin. Cushions that are foam-only are less durable and even less comfortable. Density ratings of seat foam should be 1.8 pounds or higher. If theres a cleaning tag, “W” means water-based cleaners, “S” is solvent-only (dry cleaners) and “X” means vacuum only.
- Construction of upholstered furniture: You should not be able to feel the furniture’s frame if you squeeze the back or arms. Also, make sure the seat’s springs are coil, cone, grid or sinuous. Sit in several spots to see whether you sink. The springs should be spread evenly. Reversible cushions are also a good idea, as you will get twice the use. Just make sure the pattern matches both ways.
How to Arrange Furniture for the Holidays
It’s the holidays, so go all out when arranging your furniture. You want to make the rooms open and welcoming, depending on the number of guests you have invited. Here are some great ways to accomplish that:
- Sense of entry: When you enter a room, you should already know how to walk through it. A clear path separating seating areas or dining areas should be present. A path down the middle of the room allows separate conversations to take place on each side.
- Intimacy: If you have a large room, it’s good to place furniture in small groups. If you have to lean over a coffee table to talk to someone, you’re too far away.
- Various seating options: Don’t just have one area where your company can sit and chat.
- Forget about the television: Downplay the TV in the living room by simply having the furniture faced in the opposite direction. The furniture should be arranged for conversation, not television viewing.
- Allow foot traffic: Make sure all your rooms have enough space to maneuver easily, making it simpler for guests to circulate.
Now that you’ve got your holiday house furniture, it’s time to start decorating. The holidays are the best time of year to decorate and show off everything your house has to offer. Bring the spirit of the season into your home with these ideas:
- Start with a color theme: Typical Christmas colors include white, silver, red, brown, gold, purple and even turquoise and lime. Use these colors for your invitations, decorations, place settings, napkins and more.
- Make sure you have room for a Christmas tree: Real or artificial, it really doesn’t matter. What is a concern is if you have enough room for your guests and a Christmas tree at the same time. To create that “real tree” scent, place some fragrant candles around the house that smell like pine.
- Create a memorable dining room table: You can update your old Christmas china with something more modern and add a touch of color with the placemats, napkins, napkin rings and other table decor such as candles.
- Add personal touches along the way: Because your furniture speaks volumes about your personality, consider adding little accents like a clock, wine cabinet or cedar chest in some of your rooms.
Create Your Own Traditions
Carrying on family traditions is a great way to celebrate the winter holidays. The type of furniture you have can be a part of that tradition. AmishOutletStore.com carries a wide variety of wonderfully handcrafted furniture in solid oak and cherry woods. It is durable, stylish and priced just right. Learn more about our furniture by subscribing to our newsletter or by checking out our website.