from the archives: tips on small space entertaining + dining room update

Okay, this post should show how much I had still to be shared from AGES ago but I’m not going to overthink that too much right now. For those that don’t know, this used to be our dining area in our old house (this one about that little house of ours / this about this area ) that we turned into a little reading nook. This is what it finally looked like after we finally had our chandelier put up. These photos I found I’d taken one night as we waited for guests for the potluck we were hosting. It was probably one of the last gatherings we hosted since ended up moving later that year.

You can see the house all set up for guests, with the extra chairs and the area for drinks etc. I didn’t use to host inside our home too often there because our main group of friends had expanded quite a lot over the years and our space was REALLY tight. It used to get chaotic but over the years there were a few tricks I picked up about small-space living and hosting ..

Here are a few things I had learned from our 9 years in a small space:

1: For gatherings try to see if you can open up any space by moving larger furniture items eg: moving a dining table against the wall or towards a side.

2: Think about the space in terms of how guests would move through the room and try to plan layout with that in mind so it doesn’t feel too crowded in one area. eg: While food was going to be laid on the dining table, I purposely laid out drinks on the bar cart so it’s less crowded in the food area.

3: Place dining chairs around your room for extra seating for guests. Bring out ottomans, stools etc for seating too.

+also these general small space tips that come in handy when entertaining too+

4: When buying furniture items, try to keep these three things in mind – 1) ones that can multi-purpose eg: a bar cart can be an end table, a serving station and more, sofa bed can be seating as well as a space for guests – 2) ones with storage, eg: an end table with shelf underneath, ottomans with storage etc. – 3) choose items with a smaller footprint overall eg: that Ikea dining table was perfect for us.

5: Look at your needs for your space and don’t be afraid to think creatively. For us: moving our dining area into the kitchen (a rug, artwork, lights and more made it still feel like a dining space over a kitchen) and turning the actual dining space into a little sitting area was the best decision ever.

6: If you feel you really can’t have all those people over without going crazy, maybe think of other ways to host : A few ideas: instead of trying to invite everyone in one gathering decide to do only 1-2 families at a time / think about doing a mom & kids playdate for your child’s birthday (remember this?) instead of a family affair host a drop-off birthday party for your kids friends if they’re older or do a girlfriends night (like when I did this) / if you have an outdoor space, maybe only host a few big gatherings a few times a year when you’re able to do that and let go of hosting indoors (we ended up with this pretty much over the year / here’s one & here’s another one)

+one last thing+

Don’t be embarrassed or tell yourself you can’t host the way you’d like because of your small space. Light those candles, bring on those flowers and find a way to have friends over and enjoy your space to your heart’s delight.

More ideas here on how I’ve learned to host low-stress larger gatherings.

AND ideas to making your gatherings better for the planet.

(Because someone will ask: Dining table, dining chairs, chandelier from Ikea. Table used for drinks from World Market.)

Thank you so much for reading. Much love!