The Best Tips from Designers on How to Entertain in a Small Apartment

Small space entertaining is possible

small living room

Home by Polly

Think that living in a small space means you can't host the entire crew for happy hour or game night? Well, think again! Even studio dwellers can easily play hostess; it's all about getting creative with furniture arrangement. As designer Charli Hantman commented, "When entertaining in a studio apartment, it's all about defining different areas of the space and utilizing pieces that function in multiple ways." Below, she and other designers share their top tips for small space entertaining. You'll be ready to send out those invites in 3, 2, 1....

  • 01 of 07

    Make the Coffee Table a Central Spot

    apartment coffee table

    Esther Schmidt

    Not everyone in a studio apartment owns a dining table, but most people do have coffee tables—let this piece serve as a workhorse when you host, and encourage friends to gather around it. "[Encourage] guests to feel comfortable on your sofa or in some chairs," designer Sara Queen suggested. "Maybe set up the charcuterie or other appetizers on the coffee table to invite this energy."

    Have fun with your styling, too! "There's no reason you can't use a cake stand for your charcuterie board," Hantman said. "Using different heights for your display is both esthetically pleasing and functional!"

    Have a two-tiered coffee table? Make use of the bottom layer, too, designer Kelly Walsh offered—it's an excellent place to set drinks (on coasters, of course).

  • 02 of 07

    Purchase Folding Furniture to Stash Away

    folding chairs

    Burchard Design Co

    Your apartment doesn't need to boast a party-ready setup at all times—that's unrealistic when living in a small space. However, you can be prepared with all of the essentials behind closed doors. "Folding bamboo chairs can stack in a hall closet and only come out when extra guests drop by for a dinner party," designer Ariel Okin suggested.

  • 03 of 07

    Nix the Idea That Everyone Needs a Seat

    studio apartment entertaining

    Kelsey Ann Rose for Emma Beryl

    Noted designer Emma Beryl, "Remember that not everyone needs a seat; this isn't a board meeting!" And there's nothing wrong with sitting on the ground, either, so long as the setup is comfy. Shared Okin, "A coffee table can be multipurpose as a dining table with cushions on the floor."

  • 04 of 07

    Repurpose Office Furniture

    tea party in apartment

    Scot Meacham Wood

    Don't own a large table? Perhaps you can construct one with existing furnishings prior to your gathering. "For this afternoon tea at our place in Harlem, I decided a skirted table would win the day," designer Scot Meacham Wood shared. "Honestly, it’s an old tabletop resting on the filing cabinet from my office!" Chic fabric and scrumptious snacks elevate the display instantly.

    If you have a more traditional at-home work station, you can even more easily restyle it come party time. Go ahead and set up a standard desk to serve as a buffet table, designer Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski suggested. "Tuck away your laptop and hide your desk lamp, and consider using this space to put out snacks and drinks!"

    And don't be afraid to create multiple food stations throughout the room. "Be sure to disperse the snack tables throughout the space so there's never an overly-crowded corner," Beryl added.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Don't Forget to Use the Kitchen

    bar setup in kitchen

    Heather Bien

    If your studio apartment has a distinct kitchen nook, make use of it! "Be open minded to guests gathering in your kitchen, as much as elsewhere," Queen said. She suggests using the space to set up a bar area. But if your apartment's floor plan makes this difficult, fear not—"I also love to clear off a bookshelf or a window ledge as a makeshift bar," Beryl noted. And don't worry about being fully stocked with endless beverage options. "Create a signature drink so you don't fill the space with different bottles of alcohol," Walsh suggested. Cheers!

  • 06 of 07

    Transform Your Bed Into a Sofa

    apartment bed styling

    Dominique Gebru

    You may need to reconfigure your setup a bit in the process, but it will be worth it! "Because your bed takes us a lot of space in a studio apartment, make sure it's a space that people feel they can utilize," Piotrowski said. "Pushing your bed against the wall will create more floorspace and allow you to pile it with pillows and blankets, more like a sofa."

    Not comfortable having friends plop down atop your comforter? Opt to keep the bed nice and empty. "Resist the urge to pile coats on your bed where it's visible to your guests throughout the night," Beryl commented. "Maintain the ambiance within the party by buying a foldable coat rack and placing it in the hallway."

  • 07 of 07

    Stash Away Unnecessary Items

    living room without clutter

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Out of sight, out of mind! Walsh noted that corralling clutter (even in unconventional places such as inside the shower) will make all the difference. "Think about places people won’t be using or hiding [clutter] under furniture that won’t be moving," she stated, noting that storing items under the bed is also an excellent solution.