This isn’t college, anymore — gone are the days of sitting on the floor at a get-together and using a shoe as a cup-holder under bare, flickering lightbulbs. You can't get another futon. Remember what happened on the last one? The most expensive piece of furniture was the stack of textbooks in the corner of the room. What an irresponsible use of literature.
Pretty much the only great thing about being an adult (besides taxes, of course) is getting your own place, even if it's just a small home. Remember that feeling? MINE MINE MINE.
But then you realize, it's yours alone, and to be alone, if you treat it the same way as your college pad. Ain't nobody coming over for a dinner party if your furniture looks like Berlin in 1946. Your home is basically a physical representation of your personality, and when you've got guests (or worse, family) coming over, it's like a job interview from the moment they walk in the front door.
And therein lies the problem. Yet another life skill we're expected to know but are never taught: entertaining in a small space. Well, let me drop some knowledge on you. You were a mediocre student, right? Remember your report cards? That's how we're gonna decorate.
All you have to remember are the three C’s — comfort, convenience and culture. (Just made that up, but it kind of works, right?)
Let’s start with comfort. How many people do you usually entertain and how big is your space? Six people will be a bit lost if all you can offer them is one loveseat in the living room. Plus just the name loveseat is creepy. I never want to sit next to someone on the "loveseat."
However, if your apartment is small, a gargantuan sectional sofa could be more cumbersome than it’s worth, just like the word "cumbersome." Try mixing a six or seven sofa with accent chairs for extra seating, and a coffee table. Does your furniture feel good to you? If not, it won’t feel good to anyone else, either. On the other hand, if you’re the only one who can stand it — because, say, you just avoid sitting on the ripped leather or exposed springs — you should probably reevaluate your standards.
Riffing on a more nuanced form of comfort is convenience. There’s just nothing like sitting down in a great chair. You feel powerful. You can criticize anything, A great chair makes you a God among men, even in a small apartment.
Think. Imagine yourself in that chair. What do you have? Vodka martini straight up with a twist? Side table. What are you doing? Leaning comically far back? Ottoman or poufs. Sharing your wisdom? Which direction is your interlocutor? Sofa. What are you discussing? Is it something in the room? Bookshelf. Is it just a little too dark? Throw up some string lights.
Think about this vista from any given angle. Don’t fill an area just because it’s open. Avoid horror vacui (that's Latin for “fear of empty space”). Sure, that oak dining table is beautiful and would impress your guest list, but could you even walk around it? A small table is probably a better option for your dining area, and you can dress it up with a tablecloth and a centerpiece. Super grown-up, right? Imagine how people (and pets) will move through a small space, and let your pieces work together with plenty of room to allow light, air and hopefully a little mojo pass between, even in a studio apartment with next to no square footage.
The best part: No one is going to tell you that you can’t have your appetizers or beverage with you in your living space(ahem, Mom) because the furniture should also be convenient to clean up, and maybe you don't have a dining room, anyway. Sure, the family heirloom dining room table you inherited looks cool, but is it practical? If you find yourself chasing people around with a spray bottle and dustpan, you either need to chill out or invest in some more manageable furniture.
Okay, finally: Culture. No, I do not mean the mold growing behind your refrigerator. (Ew, really?) By culture, I mean things like style, trendiness and even sustainability — yes, we are moving toward a greener culture, even when it comes to furniture. Tables and chairs can now be environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing. Whether that be a sleek nod to minimalism, a bold geometric design or a trending color or texture, you can play with side tables, accessories, accent chairs, bar carts — new and old — to bring character into your home while sticking to your values. Just be sure to shop with sustainable retailers. Throw in a green plant, and BAM, you’ve got your life together — you're basically an interior designer.
These guidelines and entertaining tips are nothing you can’t handle and will go a long way in entertaining your friends and having a great party — not to mention yourself. Now go out there and make me proud!