Open houses for Derby need an open floorplan

If you live in the Louisville area– or really, all of Kentucky– spring means one significant thing: the countdown to the Kentucky Derby. You don’t even have to be a fan to understand that spring is all about Derby in town. The Kentucky Derby Festival hosts dozens and dozens of events during the season leading up to the first Saturday in May. From fashion shows to balloon races, bed races, steamboat races, marathons (there are a lot of races) to galas, Derby-themed events span the calendar in March, April and May.

One thing just about every Louisvillian can agree on during Derby season is that one of the most fun events of the season is people’s home Derby Parties. Mint Juleps abound, the decor is often rose-centric (they call it the “Run for the Roses,” after all), casual betting occurs between your friends and loved ones, there are often horse-themed activities for the kids (or a babysitter!). Home Derby parties gather guests to enjoy spring and Derby-themed foods and drinks, socialize, and eventually watch the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.”

Maybe you’re considering hosting a Derby party at your home next year. Maybe you’ve been considering reevaluating your living space to maximize your ability to be your friends’ circle’s “host with the most.” We have a suggestion for renovating the social spaces in your home to make them supremely entertaining-friendly.

The Open Floorplan!

Open floorplans provide your home with so much flexibility when it comes to entertaining. Furniture can be moved around depending on what kind of gathering you’re having. The kitchen, always a perennial social space in its own right, is opened up to the living and dining areas to maximize flow. With a kitchen open to the rest of the living and dining spaces, hosts don’t feel “stuck in the kitchen,” only able to socialize with the handful of guests who can squeeze into the room with them (without tripping them up). 

Taking down walls between the kitchen-dining-living spaces makes party-flow great. You can have stations for drinks, desserts, entrees, etc. Hosting a brunch? Your caterer (or you) can set up an omelet station and guests won’t feel cut off from the party while waiting for their eggs to be cooked. 

With an open plan, there are no doorways to create logjams, minimal walls to cut off sight-lines. Also, there becomes an ability to move your day-to-day furniture to make room for rented tables and chairs if your party calls for them. 

Speaking of renting things for your party, consider renting dishes, glassware, and silverware. Many companies now allow you to put dirty dishes back in dish racks and return them to the company dirty– so minimal clean-up on your part!

Whether you’re hosting a Derby party or a different kind of party, understand that an open floorplan encourages people to be on the move. When you’re planning your menu, consider lots of hand-held foods or foods that don’t require silverware (especially knives!). Make sure there’s lots of places for people to set their beverages while trying to eat. Don’t make people juggle plates and cups. Passed hors d’oeuvres are ideal for the open floorplan party. Make it easy to walk around and eat with one hand.

But outside of entertaining, what are the other benefits to an open floorplan?

Well, if you have a family, it means parents aren’t socially cut off from their children during meal-prep and clean-up times, unless kids are holed up in their bedrooms, which is totally a thing. But if your kids are entertaining themselves in the living spaces before dinner, for example, parents can maintain lively interactions with their kids while they make dinner or prep lunches for school. The open plan also allows parents to keep an eye on young kids when the parents are cooking or otherwise working in the kitchen, and it allows parents to monitor their older children’s behaviors.

Open floor plans allow for flexibility when it comes to furniture arrangements. Maybe on most days, you don’t want the TV to be the focal point of your living area. Totally understandable, who wants all your couches and chairs to point toward a dead, gray slate 24-hours a day? But what if you have declared tonight Family Movie Night? Just shuffle the furniture to center the TV and put it back when the movie is over and popcorn is done. (Furniture on smoothly-rolling casters that can lock in place– a revelation!).

Open floorplans are ideal for entertaining. Have an outdoor event planned, but it’s raining? Move it indoors! Derby parties and other parties are more welcoming when everyone is sharing the same space. And when you’re not entertaining, open plans can help keep your family connected.

What horse is your Derby pick this year? The field has yet to be announced, but there are some 30-odd contenders. If I were basing my pick on this blog, I’d be feeling Catching Freedom. Because that’s what open floorplans are all about– freedom and flexibility.