Many of us love to host friends and family, but not everyone has a large space that easily lends itself to entertaining. However, home entertainment certainly isn’t limited to open and airy spaces. Scale and intentional design are far more important than square footage. With the savvy tricks and strategies below, hosting in your small space won’t feel cramped or uncomfortable. 

Design tricks to maximize the space

Maximizing your space is always important, but even more so in small spaces. Here are some ways to make your space efficient, free of clutter, and welcoming to guests:

  • Multi-purpose rooms: If you’re in a small space, chances are you don’t have the option of having a games room, dining room, or home theater. That doesn’t mean you can’t have those functionalities – you’ll just need to be crafty about how each room is used. For example, A coffee table makes a great board game table, but where do you put snacks so they’re not in the way? Luckily, some coffee tables have a top section that lifts up and to the side, effectively doubling your space. Snacks go on one section, games on the other. Best of all, the section flips back down when you’re done. 
  • Leverage symmetry: The human eye loves symmetry, and you can use this to your benefit when designing your small space. Rooms with symmetrical elements tend to look larger, so using decor like artwork in the same frames at opposite ends of a wall naturally draws the eye along the length of a room, making it appear larger. 
  • Maximize underused spaces: Those oddball spaces like super small nooks or out-of-the-way corners can always be used for something. If you’re short on space for cocktail glassware, turn a small nook into a spot to showcase your glassware by putting up shelving.
  • Don’t forget about vertical space: Vertical space often gets overlooked, but using it to your advantage is a great way to maximize the functionality and design of your small space for hosting. Higher shelving running the length of a wall is great for storing games. If you’re not a board game lover, find baskets that match your style and use the shelves to store things like seasonal entertaining items. 
  • Lighting is everything: A poorly lit room looks smaller. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do without breaking the bank. Floor lamps are great for corners, warding off shadows and drawing the eye further into the room, making it appear larger. While soft, homey ambient lighting is cozy, it’s important to layer it with task lighting that gives you a brighter, more focused light source.  
  • Clutter is the enemy: Nothing makes a small space feel more cramped than clutter. This is where shelving, baskets, and furniture with built-in storage come into play. Take every opportunity to create places that tuck away everyday items without making them inconvenient to access. Consider an ottoman with storage for blankets and games.

Decorate with intention

In an increasingly compact and fast-paced world, interior designers are emphasizing the importance of maximizing every inch of space in a home. They advocate for décor that doesn’t just add aesthetic appeal but also enhances functionality and comfort, especially when it comes to entertaining guests in smaller spaces. Interior designers recommend a few key strategies to make a significant impact on small spaces. Decor goes hand-in-hand with design when it comes to making your small space feel comfortable and functional while entertaining. Here are some easy ways to make a big impact:

  • Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Mirrors have the superpower of making a room seem much larger and brighter. Placing mirrors in strategic spots, like directly opposite a window, brings in light and can give the illusion of a second window. Natural light is great for creating a healthy environment in your home, so you’ll enjoy the benefits, too.
  • Get a projector instead of a TV: Want to elevate your entertaining space by taking out that home entertainment center but still want to be able to binge-watch your favorites? No problem. Projectors have come a long way in quality and size. Discreetly mount one in your living room and put a collapsible screen behind a piece of furniture. 
  • Swing the day away: Indoor swings, like the classic egg swing, are a great way to open up some floor space, making your small house design seem bigger without sacrificing seating space. 
  • Work your musical items into your design: If you play instruments, mount them to create a musical gallery wall. Instead of a typical stereo, think about a jukebox. 
  • Personalize your small space with interesting wall art: Not only do things like gallery walls or custom neon signs elevate your space, but they also make great conversation starters when you’re hosting guests. 
  • Don’t hide your geek side: Much like musical instruments, if you’re a board game aficionado, don’t hide them away. If you’re concerned about clutter, think about organizing them by color or creating a board game gallery wall. 
  • Harnessing the potential of your space: Every interior designer knows that the key to successful home design is understanding how to effectively utilize the available space. Designing a space requires the artful manipulation of spatial dimensions to create a balanced aesthetic that fosters comfort and functionality.
  • Game on: Table games are making a comeback, but it can be challenging to fit them into small space designs. Many table makers are creating ping pong, hockey, and shuffleboard tables that double as dining room tables. You’d never know the game table was there until you flip the tabletop for an instant game room.
  • Mini bars can be big fun: A place to mix drinks out of the kitchen is a great way to keep things less chaotic when you have guests. A bar cart or well-organized countertop can make a great bar area. 

Space-saving furniture 

In small spaces, your furniture choices can make all the difference. Here are some tips for choosing the right furniture for your small space:

  • It’s all about scale: If your space has low ceilings, choose furniture that sits lower to the ground. 
  • Not just a couch: Your furniture should do double-duty as much as possible, giving you extra accessible storage. 
  • Round the table: A round dining table instead of square or rectangular gives you space for extra chairs and saves space when it’s not being used. 
  • Float on: Floating furniture and storage is great for increasing the sense of space in a room. By not anchoring your eye to the floor, the space seems larger overall. Floating cabinets are relatively easy to install – or have a handyman install them for you. Cabinet makers also play a pivotal role in the transformation of a room, especially when it comes to creating more space and promoting a minimalist aesthetic. Mounting your TV on the wall can make a drastic difference in the look of a room. 

Entertaining in a small space

Hosting guests and also getting to enjoy yourself without stress is all about preparation and planning. That’s even more the case in small spaces. Here are some ways to make sure you’re a calm and gracious host:

The menu

Menu planning is one of the most important parts of making your entertaining experience run smoothly. In the same vein, hosting the perfect dinner party extends beyond just the food and drinks; considering your guests’ comfort and interaction dynamics is equally crucial to create an enjoyable atmosphere for all.

  • Plan menu items that allow you to prep them a day – or even two – before. Remember that the best restaurants can only serve beautiful food as fast as they do by prepping and par-cooking items.  
  • Before you get caught up in dreams of making the perfect beef Wellington, think about the style of seating you have. If you can’t fit everyone at your dining table, it might be easier to make finger food items instead of a meal that requires a knife and fork.
  • If you’re confident in your bartending skills and stock, ask your guests to choose what they’d like to drink. Have a set drink menu with a few options, including a non-alcoholic choice. 

The seating

Planning out your seating beforehand will make things much easier as your guests start to arrive and as the evening progresses.

  • If you have extra chairs and side tables that can be brought in from other rooms, arrange them before your guests arrive.  
  • Decluttering countertops, end tables, and your coffee table gives everyone more space to move around and reduces the risk of something being knocked over.
  • Having pillows available on the floor can encourage your guests to get creative and lounge there instead. 
  • Create zones by spreading out a few serving areas to avoid overcrowding spaces, like setting up a buffet with the food on the counter and a self-serve bar in the kitchen. 

The vibe

Another big plus of entertaining with a plan is that you’ll have the chance to focus on details that make a space warm and welcoming and create the perfect ambiance for your guests. If you’re running around at the last minute and guests arrive, you might not have thought about where to have them put their shoes and coats, which can be a problem in a small space.

Giving yourself some time to breathe and relax before entertaining lets you think more about things like lighting, a scent for the room, and how to organize cleanups so that your space stays tidy throughout the day. 

The style

The style of your event largely dictates if you should plan activities or just let your guests organically mingle. Even if you’re not hosting a game night, it’s always a great idea to have a few easy games available.

Often you’ll know ahead of time if you have guests that want to stay overnight, but it’s good to have things like toiletries, clean bedding, and towels ready in case there are any surprise overnight stays.

Fun for the whole family

Entertaining isn’t limited to adults only. It’s just as important to be able to host and plan events that are family-friendly. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Make a craft table for little ones during game day. 
  • Organize play dates with outdoor elements, like a wiffle ball game or snowman-building contest.
  • Make sure kiddos feel involved with drinks and fun snack food just for them. 

The size of your space should not deter you from hosting a memorable event at your home. By maximizing space through multi-purpose rooms, leveraging symmetry, utilizing underused areas, and incorporating vertical storage, you can create an efficient and clutter-free environment. Thoughtful decor choices, such as mirrors and unique elements, add charm and personality. Planning ahead, considering seating arrangements, and creating a welcoming ambiance through lighting and organization are key to being a calm and gracious host. Additionally, including family-friendly elements ensures that all guests can enjoy the event. Remember, the size of your space does not limit your ability to host unforgettable gatherings with careful planning and attention to detail.