The “snowbirds” are in Arizona for a vast array of fun and games within the next three months. They have been winter traumatized by the last couple of server storms and are now ready to have some warm merriment in our renown state for great winter weather. There will be visits from family, friends and visitors descending on many households for a few days, a week, or even longer. They can enjoy such things as golf tournaments, sports events, car auctions, horse shows, charity balls, concerts and all kinds of cultural entertainments. Is your home ready to entertain guests for the evening, a few days or for a special event?

As we put away the cheerful Christmas decorations, we can evaluate our interiors for updating or replacing any outdated features, furniture, upholstery and dining paraphernalia. First, focusing on just two main entertaining areas such as the gathering and dining places will keep plans from getting scattered and focus gone astray. Draw up a master plan of everything that you want done and then assign a time table to get it accomplished based on when guests are arriving or on budge requirements.

Some projects will take longer to finish such as reupholstering or purchasing a new comfy sofa and lounge chairs. If buying new, then count on at least eight to 12 weeks lead time and know that it can take even longer depending on the manufacturer and shipping time. If reupholstering sofas and chairs, then it can probably take a minimum of six weeks. Generally, you need about two weeks to select and order upholstery fabrics either way.

The timing to complete interior projects is a major factor that can always affect your entertaining calendar. My first sofa purchase was based on how fast I could get it for a major holiday party I was giving. I compromised my fabric choice and ended up disliking it daily for several years until I could afford to get another sofa, so beware.

When budgeting for your entertaining and decorative scheme remember your home is an extension of your own personality. Sometimes it’s better to compromise and buy the less expensive version of an item so that you can afford the more spectacular piece of furniture, fabric or artwork. The mistake would be to buy everything from one location and from the middle-price bracket. It would simply reflect the stores image and lack your personality. For our home’s personality to be a balance of warmth and originality it needs a combination of unique purchases mixed up with some inherited fine furniture pieces and creativity that is only a reflection of you.

Entertaining and storage go together because not all food serving pieces and not all entertaining equipment are used daily. Tureens, candle holders, place settings, crystal, china and table accessories can double as displays on open shelves or behind china glass doors. Many hostesses like to exhibit their collections of fine dining pieces and their displays become an integral part of the interiors room decor. It’s been my experience with hostesses that do a lot of entertaining, that they always need more space for their recent purchases.

Entertaining and storage in the living/family room functions best with a combination of hidden and open shelf storage also. Media equipment, CDs, DVDs and speakers are best hidden while family awards, collections, and photographs are appreciated by all your guests. Custom built-in cabinets or custom free-standing furnishings can solve two problems for more storage in both rooms.

Whether your guests are being entertained by the latest movie in the family room or enjoying a formal dinner, being prepared for entertaining by solving space or room function problems before they arrive is the solution for success.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit

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