It’s a shame that sometimes those who love to host live in a shoebox. No matter how beautifully designed the shoebox, there’s no doubt that inviting friends for lavish dinners or seasonal soirees does become slightly trickier when you have a finite amount of space. More difficult yes, but by no means impossible; all it takes is a bit more organisation and creativity to create an excellent atmosphere.
Having faux flowers adorning every surface and whimsical trinkets all over the place is great for making a room your own; less so when entertaining. It can make your petite space feel more cluttered and smaller than it actually is, especially when you factor in the inevitable wine glasses that will be dotted around. You don’t want the room to feel stark though, so hide away all but the essential decor in a cupboard or your bedroom. Think outside the box with your party decorations and make the most of wall space—fairy lights, wreaths or garlands keep practical surfaces free whilst adding to the aesthetic.
As everyone with a small home will know: every surface matters. But this fact becomes even more pressing when entertaining, as you really can’t afford to waste any space. If you’re hosting an evening of cocktails and canapés, think about where they’re going to live. In this instance, every surface is useful—windowsills and bookshelves can become fabulous drinks cabinets for a few hours. Another great way of maximising space is by trying to minimise traffic. There’s no escaping the fact that people gather round food and drink, so place your drinks trolley towards the back of the room to make sure that people filter that way, rather than hover around the doorway and create a bottleneck.
As for the canapés, be sure to prepare these ahead of time. You don’t want to find yourself interrupting what was about to be the greatest romance of your friendship group, just because you need to get to the oven. A buffet is a fabulous way of avoiding this problem; using height effectively an even better one. Things like tall, tiered cake stands lend themselves wonderfully to stylishly displaying snacks and take up less space on your counter. If you’re feeling really resourceful, look to other household items that could do this job as well. With its three shelves, our Kakor Side Table fits this bill perfectly.
Create a space for people’s belongings and be very clear that this is where you’d like them to stay. As the host, you don’t want to have to accompany a friend to A&E because she’s tripped over a bag in your narrow corridor wearing high heels. Equally, as a guest, there is nothing more irritating than realising that someone mistook their coat for yours as they were bundled up in a corner somewhere.
If you’re having a dinner party, where to sit and eat will, of course, be at the top of your list of things to decide. A foldable table is worth investing in for these kinds of occasions; you can pop it against the wall later on to create a more sociable space. Now is not the time to be afraid of shuffling things around either, if you have a hallway console or bench there’s no reason not to bring them into the dining room to create more space—the more the merrier. Ottomans and floor cushions come into their own too, either as places to sit, or if you’re embracing a relaxed Moroccan-style scenario on the floor, spots to perch trays of appetizers.
It’s natural to fret a little when having people over. After all, even if you moan about your teeny house sometimes, a lot of work has gone into making it look beautiful. But most of the time what makes or breaks an evening is the mood, not the size of your dining room. Lighting has the greatest bearing on ambiance; so make sure to set the scene with plenty of candles and table lamps to create a relaxed atmosphere.