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Furniture and Entertaining in a Small Home

Updated on November 23, 2011

Think multifunction, modular and an efficient use of vertical space. These are the three most important uses of your small space especially for entertaining, regardless of you throwing a formal elegant dinner party or a casual potluck during Super Bowl Sunday.

Upholstered Cubes:

Instead of purchasing standard wood coffee tables and end tables consider small ottomans, I like to call them cubes. I am huge fan of these cubes, I strongly recommend one that is triple function; I have them in my home. The one I have is an ottoman, a coffee table and storage unit; you can break them up or put them together to form a bench or large ottoman. They are excellent for small space and entertaining. If you must go with a large coffee table consider an upholstered ottoman with a couple of decorative trays for drinks and snacks.

Upholstered Benches:

These also work great for breaking up a space into zones. Benches are ideal if you have just one great room rather than a separate family and living room and bench can be placed to have on group of guests in a conversation and another group in the other half of the room in other words people can sit on the bench facing opposite directions or talking to each other. Social conversation zones from head to head shouldn't exceed 12 feet. You can easily break up an 18x10 room into these zones and still look spacious and multifunctional with a bench or two bisecting a space to create conversation zones.

Creating a Formal Dining Space:

If your living space doesn't have a formal dining room, but you like to entertain with dinner parties forgo the standard dining table and consider a table that has an insert rather than a drop down leaf. The insert will always let you seat people from all sides and convert from a small to a larger size, by adding up to 2-4 people more.

Also consider 2 or 3 small tables that can be group together and split apart to make side tables for a buffet in more informal potluck parties. If you have a large kitchen area but no formal dining space and a small living space consider a banquet or and tear drop shape or square table that can butt up against a counter or wall.

Anything on casters is ideal for a small space; however the legs are typically metal and can take on a more contemporary look. This will give you a very modular multifunction space.

Vertical Elements:

Not only will this make your space look larger, but it frees up valuable horizontal space in a small room. Instead of going with a large armoire, have your flat screen TV installed on the wall with attached shelves or built in mill-work.

Avoid too much clutter, again it makes a space look smaller, and is inefficient if you need to clear shelves and cabinet tops to make space for food every time you entertain. For family air looms, get these items up on a fixed wall shelf. Corner brackets work well in space spaces too. Bottom line; think about utilizing your wall space and reserving precious floor space.

Lounge Seating for a Small Space:

One of the things I've noticed is with a lot of residential furniture companies the lounge seating is getting larger in comparison to the size of homes. I recall shopping for a sectional sofa in a smaller home not so long ago; 80% of the sofas and sectionals are so large that you’d have to climb over a sectional to get from the hallway to my family room.

If you’re in the market for new family or living room seating. Instead of going with a 3 seat sofa with arms and matching armchairs, I would still consider looking for a small to medium size sectional with an ottoman end. If the ottoman is on casters; better still. You can seat more people on a sectional in a smaller space and it takes up less space. You can seat 2-3 people on a large end ottoman than you can only fit one in an armchair.

Armless lounge chairs sometimes known as slipper chairs are also more preferable to entertaining. They are just like an ottoman with a back. Large arms take up valuable space in a small room for entertaining.


  • Consider European manufacturers for furniture, they tend to be smaller and slightly different sizing because of their metric system
  • Go with durable cleanable fabrics like dark colored leather or faux leather, Crypton, Permablock, Nanotex or a comparable stain protection fabric or one with a vinyl backing for the upholstered cubes

Ottoman Cubes

Ottoman storage boxes with upholstered lids that flip over as tables/trays.
Ottoman storage boxes with upholstered lids that flip over as tables/trays. | Source

Slipper Chairs

Lounge chairs without arms are ideal in a small space and for entertaining.
Lounge chairs without arms are ideal in a small space and for entertaining. | Source


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