A New Living Room Idea
One of our significant rites of passage in life is leaving home. For many, this milestone begins with the journey to college and living in a residence hall. But others have different experiences. For example, I lived at home during my college years, which put restrictions on my social life, but saved a lot of money. My first home was an apartment by the beach with my new husband. I was 23 years old and elated to be out on my own. These days, millennials are often opening their apartments to others long after college in order to make their rent or mortgage affordable. Many are long past the point of wanting to live with strangers, and they long for privacy. The fact is, when you live in a small place, you make concessions about how you entertain guests. All sorts of creative ideas exist for how to live day to day with ease and still have the equipment you need for entertaining.
Your first serious home is significant in terms of expressing your own personality and style preferences. No matter what might be wrong with the place, if it is yours, it is heaven. I recall our first little place. There was a broken window in the shower and limited seating in the living room. We had a funky loveseat that I covered with an avocado-green throw. There was no room for a proper dining table. If we had guests over for dinner, they got the loveseat, and we sat cross-legged on the floor opposite them. Last night I watched the 1956 film "The Catered Affair" starring Bette Davis. The working-class family of five lived in a tiny apartment in the Bronx, New York, and when it was time for a fancy dinner with their daughter's future in-laws, the dining table had to be pulled away from the wall so people could take their seats all the way around the table. Urban apartments are still like this, and with the craze of micro-units, this will be exactly how people live for years to come. You make do and you work around certain awkward realities.
One of the best ideas for a tiny living room is to ditch a bulky sofa and use good-size armchairs or lounge chairs. It may initially feel as if you are breaking design dogma, but there are advantages. One is that the room will feel and appear lighter. Another is that you will attain greater flexibility because you can move the chairs at will. When an overnight guest arrives, you can push the chairs away and inflate an air mattress. There is no need to accommodate a sleeper sofa. If you've ever owned a sleeper, you know that guests are not all that comfortable on a queen-size mattress, and anything wider is very difficult to arrange in a tight space. A convertible sofa, for example, can range between 78 and 82 inches wide. That's not easy to squeeze into a tiny place.
Another way to stretch entertaining space is to go ahead and push a dining table up against a wall, longways or perpendicular to the wall. Drop leaf tables are great because you can flip up the wings of the table for extra space when needed, but it is otherwise more compact. Some tables are square, but have drop leafs that flip up to create a completely round table. In very tiny studios, we sometimes even find flip-up tables that are attached to a wall on one end — they operate much like a dining surface in a boat or mobile home. All of these ideas rely on flexible thinking and the willingness to operate just a hair outside of what we take for granted in larger homes.
Photo Credit: Brabba Design Forces