Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where does it go? Eating edition

Apartment Therapy recently posted an article about ways to place furniture in small apartments.

Okay, "article" is a bit generous. It's ten pictures, a blurb describing the problem you want an answer to and an assertion that the answer is contained within those photos.

It isn't.

And that's not really their fault. The problem of furniture placement in a small apartment is that there are so many variations of the ways even a teensy apartment can be arranged. Is the kitchen a separate room? Are there weird nooks or built-ins? Where are the windows? Each possible permutation comes with unique challenges.

So where do you place furniture in a small space? That's the search engine optimized question I'm going to tackle weekly over the next time period of now until I get bored or distracted. But let's start with the dining areas.

Living alone? Easiest of all. You might not even need a dining area. If you're a bachelor, it's pretty much expected that every meal you eat will be done on the couch while watching TV. Maybe get a TV tray so you've got someplace to set your beer. But if you've got people to impress, you will need a real dining area.

Let's talk seating capacity for a moment. On average, you will need to be able to accommodate seating for the number of occupants in the apartment, plus two. Living alone plan for three, living with a roommate, plan for four, etc. And there's a very good reason for this. You can expect another couple may occasionally join you for dinner unannounced, and having seating and dining space for them means you're already prepared. However, if three or more friends conspire to dine at your residence unannounced, they are not your friends and therefore do not deserve to eat your food.

But what if I want to have more than two guests? How do I host a dinner party in my small apartment? Say, six to eight people, maybe even a dozen. Well, you should avoid having to do this if you don't have to. Tell your friends you have bedbugs or no indoor plumbing. And anyone who knows you have a small apartment, yet continues to demand that you host this dinner party is someone whose conversational skills will not add anything to your soiree.

In all seriousness however, plan in advance and use every flat surface you can (desks and kitchen counters work well) And try to only serve crudites and other foods that can be eaten while standing and conversing, or that you'd feel comfortable serving people on a sofa. (meatballs on a toothpick yay, big bowls of soup not so yay)

And now some answers to where a dining area should go. If at all possible, the dining zone should be close to the kitchen. Big surprise, I know. Here are two photos demonstrating this self-explanatory concept.
Look! It's right by the kitchen!

Those dining chairs are space-saving, but also hard to find and expensive. Bummer.

In this space, the eating zone is right by the windows. Another totally cool option.

What if the space right next to the kitchen isn't an option? Maybe maybe your space has a weird layout. Maybe that region of the apartment is haunted. Whatever the case may be, you're going to have to get a little more creative. And again, I'm sorry because those of you who have the least-useful layouts are the ones who need answers the most, but it's hard to address all the specific layout cases in one article. Here are two really basic ideas that might offer inspiration.
From Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2011 contest

One option is to have a moveable kitchen island as a table. Moves out of the way for cooking, then flies back right where you need it.
Admit it, this is really cool

A tabletop that folds out from the wall is another popular space-saver. You can re-use the same chairs for different purposes. Plus you get to feel like you're in one of those cool camper vans

So to recap the eating zone placement here are my top 3 pointers:
1. For reasonable layouts, close proximity to the kitchen is generally good. Clearly something only an expert in table-placementology would know.
2. For more inconvenient layouts, 'eating area' does not necessarily mean 'dining table'. A flat, table-sized surface is all you need, and there are lots of creative ways to go about having that.
3. Even tiny apartments can accommodate large numbers of dining guests, but don't invite jerks to your dinner parties.

Photos stolen with love from:
Apartment Therapy (1, 2 and 3)
Apartment Therapy again (4)
Relax Shacks (5)

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