In an ideal world, I would live in a three bedroom cottage across the street from the beach (pictured above) in Southern Spain. This imaginary house would have an amazing kitchen, separate dining room, my bedroom with a view and massive walk-in closet, a guest bedroom with a view and massive walk-in closet, a creative studio (for me to write and do projects in), and an expansive outdoor space with a garden, pool, dining area, and pizza oven.
Obviously with so much ample space (each of my tables would seat 14 comfortably and 18 uncomfortably), I would host memorable and fabulous dinner parties all the time and everyone in Southern Spain would talk about my dinner party prowess. Alas, this gorgeous house essential for entertaining is a mere fantasy. The reality is I live in a 700-square foot studio with a galley kitchen, dining table that seats 6 uncomfortably, a fire escape that you’re not allowed to walk or grow herbs on, and virtually no extra space for chic and sophisticated suppers.
But extreme times call for extreme measures and four years ago when I moved to my current apartment, I was thrilled to finally have a small, but separate kitchen area that allowed me to have a dinner table (albeit a hand-me-down Ikea one) that allowed me to host many a dinner party. At first, I kept the invite list small with no more than a total of 6 guests squished around my tiny table. But like most things, once I mastered the 6-person dinner party, I wanted more — bigger, better, greater! So I decided to invite 10 people to a half birthday celebration with a Moroccan theme that involved everyone sitting on the floor while eating. It was a smashing success and only increased my desire to host a proper seated dinner party with 10+ people. In order to do this, I would have to transform my entire house, which may seem crazy at first, but luckily, I’ve developed a scheme for throwing intimate meals for 10-14 people. Here’s how I do it:
1. I start by turning my bed from perpendicular to the wall to parallel to the wall (as illustrated in the above photos). This creates a couple feet of free space in the middle of the studio. I change the pillows to make the full bed look more like a day bed (a genius idea from my clever mom).
2. The kitchen table gets moved out of the kitchen and into the middle of the living room.
3. I move my pink sitting chair from the living room area into a corner of the kitchen.
4. I put the coffee table against a wall in the kitchen, next to the pink chair, creating a small sitting room in the kitchen, which is perfect for hanging out while I’m preparing the last few items for the meal.
5. I have a square folding card table that I keep hidden behind my dresser in the closet. I pull this out and use it as an extension of my regular dining table. Cover the whole thing with a big tablecloth and no one knows that it’s a ramshackle table!
6. There are four regular chairs, four folding chairs, a storage bench that can seat two, and two small stools. When I need more space, I pull the bed up and have guests sit on that.
7. Finally I set the table, light the candles, and viola: My apartment is dinner party ready! Yes, it’s insane, but trust me, once you attend a dinner at my place, you’ll get it. It just works.