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Design Dilemma: Entertaining in a Tiny Space

transitional kitchen how to tips advice

As we move into the holiday season, those of us who live in small apartments and condos begin the annual fretting exercise — where do we put all our guests? If you live in a studio apartment, or even an apartment slightly larger like the one above (that measures about 1000 square feet)  this can indeed present a grand dilemma. Many of us forgo dinner parties altogether because we don’t have a dining room. Or we severely limit our guest list. Or we give up on throwing larger parties for fear of not having enough space to seat people. And dance parties? Well, just forget about it.

But alas, living in a small space need not require that you become a hermit. When it comes to entertaining, you just have to be smart about it.

1.) Rearrange the furniture.

traditional living room how to tips advice

Entertaining in a small space requires that you get creative. If you want to throw a dinner party without a dining room, why not commandeer a hallway, using a console table as your dining table? (I’ve done it before, with great success.) Or, move a cafe height table to your couch and create a dining space there? Move chairs around (as above) to create conversation areas, haul out folding tables, feel free to completely reimagine your home for an evening.

Below, a cafe-height table has been moved to the couch to provide a dining space in a home that otherwise has none.

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

2). Press furniture into double duty. Storage benches can become extra seating. Side tables can become cocktail stations, an empty sink can hold ice and cold drinks. Empty a bookshelf to allow for plates and utensils. Turn a four person dining table into a 10 person dining table by adding a sheet of plywood on top. Invest in furniture that is multi-functional, such as the coffee table, below, that can raise up and spread out to become a dining table. Pretty handy!

modern living room how to tips advice

3. Invest in a kitchen island. Islands make marvelous buffet tables and cocktail stations, with the added benefit that they are quite useful for everyday kitchen prep too. If you don’t have one, consider in investing one. The island in this modest kitchen, below, is just large enough to accommodate bowls of chip and dip! And if you don’t have an island and you don’t want one, consider pulling out a console table used somewhere else in your home to become a kitchen island/buffet station for the night.

farmhouse kitchen how to tips advice

4. Make things cozy and atmospheric with mood lighting.
When your place is small, it means things can get tight. If you’re hoping for a cozy feeling instead of a claustrophobic feeling, lighting is incredibly important. Ditch all bright overhead lights and opt for candles, table lamps and floor lamps that are strategically placed in corners to provide a dramatic, sexy feel and to help everyone look beautiful. You’ll be amazed at how lighting can transform your tiny apartment into a cozy club.

Other tips:

  • Drape a tablecloth over your washer and dryer to create a buffet station.
  • Move unnecessary furniture out of your entertaining space and into your bedroom for the evening.
  • Move furniture against a wall to allow for circulation.
  • Use mirrors to give the illusion of a larger, brighter space.
  • Put pillows on the floor and encourage guests to spread out Moroccan style.
  • Offer small plates, so people can stand up and eat.
  • Limit drinks to beer and wine instead of a full cocktail table.
  • Hang all decorations so that tables and surfaces can be dedicated to holding plates and food.
  • Spread out food and drinks so that guests won’t congregate in one spot.

And most of all, remember that it’s the spirit and the company that make the party. So let loose, enjoy yourself and don’t fret about the size of your home!

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Design Trend: Three Tips for Creating Mid-Century Style


mid century modern living room chairs mid century modern living room s how to tips advice

Mid-century modern has been a strong design trend for more than a decade now and yet, many of us still feel a little apprehensive when it comes to incorporating mid-century furniture into our own homes. Can we pull it off, or will it seem that we’re trying too hard? Will our homes look like homes or something straight off a Mad Men set?

If this is your worry, one way to avoid the uneasiness of not knowing exactly how that Arne Jacobsen Egg chair or that Le Corbusier chaise lounge will work in your living room is to digitally visualize exactly how your home will look long before the furniture truck pulls up. EMFURN has made this task a lot easier with its online interior design services that allow you to do just that. Not only can you pick out your very own George Nelson Ball Clock, but you can see exactly how it will look placed over your fireplace.

Looking to put together a mid-Century modern home? Keep these tips in mind:

1) Enjoy mid-century classics but feel free to mix it up. Certainly, you’ll want to incorporate some of the classic mid-century designs of the designer greats like Florence Knoll, Ray and Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen and Marcel Breuer, to name a few. But make your home feel less like a period piece by adding accessories that are not strictly design pieces.  Consider ethnic touches like African or Asian sculpture and stools. Or add a traditional touch such as an oriental rug. The room below, incorporating a classic oriental rug and an African stool used as a side table, has just the right eclectic, cosmopolitan feel.

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2) Embrace asymmetrical and abstract patterns and paintings. In the 1950s and 60s, abstract art and patterns were all the rage. You can bring some of these same looks into your home but with a contemporary twist. Consider adding pillows with a fun atomic print, or area rugs incorporating abstract designs.  In the dining room below, an abstract painting provides just the right touch to complement the mid-century dining chairs and shag rug.

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3) Don’t forget about lighting. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any mid- century home. And the great thing is there are so many statement floor lamps and pendants that you have a wealth of options to choose from.  From the 1962 Arco floor lamp designed by brothers Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo to the Artichoke chandelier, there are many great designs that can actually make your space. Many contemporary lamps also work well in a mid-century setting. Below, the Coil lamp was designed for modern decors seeking a pendant lamp that is impressive but not pretentious.

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Mid-century modern has become a classic style that still seems youthful and fresh more than sixty years after its debut in the design world. The simple, clean look that embraces fun and optimism is the perfect direction for how we want to live today. Keeping in mind these few ideas, you are sure to create a fantastic, well-designed mid-century interior!

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The Simple Pleasures of Nature for New Yorkers


Hudson Woods retreat is part of a larger residential project located 100 miles away from New York and including 26 modern and energy efficient homes.

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Crafted by Lang Architecture, each vacation home embraces the virtues of simplicity and honesty.

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