We Asked My Favorite Hostess, Kim Vargo, 5 Questions

July 29, 2021

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If there was someone who hosts even more than we do, and probably more effortlessly–it’s Kim and Scott Vargo of Yellow Brick Home: our dear friends with whom we wish we could share a charcuterie board and game night a lot more often! And Kim isn’t a “hostess with the mostess” because she’s doing over-the-top candlelit 7 course dinners with live music entertainment–she’s just mastered crafting cool gatherings and not breaking a sweat. She’s here to calm all your hosting fears and change the conversation around what entertaining even means. The floor is yours, Kim!

1. What are your best tips for stress-free hosting?

Worry less about the food! Period, full stop. The most fun we have with friends is setting a theme — say, taco night! — and asking everyone to bring a couple of ingredients. As the host, we’ll always prepare the main part of the meal (like taco meat, veggies and plenty of bowls and utensils for all the potluck elements), but it’s always fun to see what comes together when we all play a part. Unless cooking is honest-to-goodness your favorite thing to do, take some of that weight off your shoulders. Lastly, a special cocktail for the occasion always feels way fancier than the effort needed to make them! It makes me so happy to look around and see everyone with a house cocktail, which adds an instant cool-factor to any gathering.

2. Do you have a cleaning routine before entertaining?

For a casual gathering, Scott and I will tag team a few things, but the extent of it is a thorough vacuum, wiping down the guest bathroom and making sure the kitchen is tidied up. And we definitely close doors to messy rooms! If we’ll be dining indoors, I may set out fresh flowers on the table, but if we’re gathering in the backyard, I consider myself off the hook.

3. How do you set an ambience in your home for guests?

Aah, my favorite part of entertaining. Every light in our home is on a dimmer, so I’ll take 5 minutes to set the lighting (and even lighting temperature – we have a lot of smart bulbs!). If it doesn’t interfere with cooking smells, I’ll also light a few nice candles. You know the ones, the ones where one sniff will make you feel good all the way in your soul? Those candles. And right before the first guests arrive, we hit play on one of our Spotify playlists! Good music is ev-er-y-thing.

4. What aspect of entertaining do you think people overthink, and what part do you think people should actually consider?

Hands down (and I’m guilty of this at times), people overthink the menu. I think it’s more about how you feel, and lighting is a huge part of that. 


5. What would you tell someone who feels inadequate hosting because of how his/her home looks?

No one is looking at your home under a microscope. They’re in your home for you and your wonderful company! But if you’re feeling truly stressed, remember my tips from the question above. Those actionable items are in your control, and they’re the things that people will leave your house remembering.

Kim is one-half of a DIY husband and wife team, living in her favorite city in the world: Chicago! Since 2009, Yellow Brick Home has been focusing on the places we love to call home + our journey along the way. They take care and pride in nurturing old homes back to health, while sharing the story of their renovations, family and rescue pets with kindness + honesty.

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What do you think?

  1. Elayne says:

    We have a small house (812 sq ft), which we love. After this past year I finally got over having to have everything perfect before inviting friends over. We do have a large backyard so once the weather warms up we do everything outside, even into fall.

  2. Just yesterday I was listening to the book, “Minimalist Home” and he said that “entertaining” guests is when you are there to show off your stuff, but “hospitality” is about serving your guests. I liked the distinction. I would so much rather serve people in my home than entertain them. When you think you have to entertain then the expectation of perfection and “show” comes to mind. But hospitality is about serving people and helping them feel loved, accepted, and welcome in your home. In that regard, we treat them like family, and we are okay with everyone contributing food and not having the home show ready in every space.

  3. Julie Marquez says:

    I’d go to Kim and Scott’s house any day of the week, they seem like the perfect, most friendly hosts! I’m learning that I now enjoy going to people’s messy homes, because my young kids might track in dirt or smear a handprint somewhere, and my husband might even spill his drink, but then I won’t feel as bad. It’s real life, folks.

  4. Nicole says:

    I love going to someone’s house to experience who they are on a personal level. Not to judge that they didn’t get a project done or haven’t found that perfect piece for their living room. My best friends are people who are all about function they aren’t looking to make there house perfect but it to function well and feel good. And guess what I love going over there! I love the old mismatch couch that you sink into and there quirky love for disney themed wall art because that’s who my friends are, their home is authentic to them and I wouldn’t change it for a second.

  5. Sydney says:

    Having just moved into a beautiful home that really just needs a coat of paint, I find all my guests assume we will be renovating and come in pointing out “well you ought to have a door here. Well this should be like this. Have you considered moving this wall?” It’s totally offensive, and I can’t believe I should have to tell people to not tell me how they think I should renovate my home— that I am not interested in renovating!

    • Julia says:

      Sydney, I know the feeling. I’ve learned to say, “You would?! I love that!”

      • Dianne says:

        Julia, that is a reply of true grace – perfect.

        Sydney, you have opinionated guests! I would not feel comfortable stating what someone should do with their space even if I thought something would be improved if changed. If asked, I’d state my opinion in a kind way. Maybe you need friends that cheer you on?!

    • Liz says:

      I was the jerk that did this to a friend. My husband and I were looking at being first time homebuyers, and could only afford the most rundown spaces, so our mindset was super focused on taking something awful and making it lovely. I also had been watching too much HGTV. Cue me, walking through my friend’s beautiful home casually mentioning all the ways to improve it. I wish she had directly said, “I actually love it this way.” Fortunately, a mutual friend pointed out how rude I was, but I still cringe six years later.

  6. Tracy says:

    In regard to #5, my mom has said that if someone at your party is inspecting your home from under a microscope, don’t invite that person into your home again! The people you love will love you even if your home isn’t perfect!

    My cleaning routine always includes clean the toilets, take out all the trash, and empty the dishwasher- so clean up is easy!

    • Karen says:

      I agree with your Mom. They only thing I would add to your list is to change to fresh towels in the kitchen and bathroom.

      And for closing doors to messy rooms, so much stuff goes into the laundry room/pantry off the kitchen, so of course I close the door. This spring we had friends we’ve known since we moved here 25 years ago saw me get a serving bowl and was shocked. He had no idea it was a room, he thought it was a closet!

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