My husband and I live in one of the most expensive counties in Pennsylvania. The houses here are beautiful and full of history. Town homes and stone farmhouses paint the town and landscapes around us. As lovely as it is, it does provide a large problem. High rent. For a young couple starting out, it was a little stressful at times. This past year however, we were greatly blessed when a couple from our church offered us an apartment above their garage. A few months later, we called the place home.
It is a studio loft. About the size of a typical European apartment, we say we are practicing for the day we might get to move to Austria. It is the kind of dreamy spot you would find in a upscale or hip part of a trendy city. We are not living in a trendy city, for sure, but we are in a fun, little (almost non-existent) town.
We occasionally have friends over and always enjoy overnight visits from friends and family. The big question on my mind always becomes “where do I stick this 1 or 2 extra persons?”
When we started buying for our house, we bought with intention. We knew that the closest family to us was four hours away and that for anyone to visit, we would need a versatile space. That seems almost impossible in our size of place, but with some imagination and patient shopping, this was achieved.
For our couch, we thought about a futon, but then we thought more realistically. We are building a future home, not a dormitory. After looking at outlet stores and department stores, we settled on a pull-out couch from Macy’s. Many visitors have commented on how comfortable it is. #win. The throw pillows are sewn from kite fabric used at my wedding.
For the kitchen, we were able to find a closeout table at Pottery Barn. It has built-in fold-able leaves. We have been able to seat 6 at it… Though it is tight. Ikea provided the open shelving for storing the bulk of my dishes and my coffee mugs. When we need more chairs, we have some fold and store chairs from Crate and Barrel, as well as a piano bench and a homemade chair from an antique store. Never perfectly matching, which may bother the OCD soul, but can also beautifully add variety without even trying. It reminds me of the type of table setting you would see in a bohemian or modern home magazine or website.
Decorating the table top has become one of the most fun aspects of entertaining for me. Since our space is small, this is where I get to add my personal touch and exercise my creativity. I have sewn all of our table clothes and placemats. Most of my fabric is from Loom in Pittsburgh, Pa. Their clearance section is incredible. Our most recent meal was our Christmas dinner. The placemats are made of Ralph Lauren fabric scraps. The evergreen branch came from Lancaster, PA. We spent Christmas Eve morning there and as we passed a floral shop, I decided to go in and ask if they had any scraps of evergreen from their wreaths. This bold (for me) move resulted in a simple, but festive tablescape for our Christmas meal.
Finding ways to entertain in a small space does take creativity, but there have not been many times that I have thought “a bigger space would help!” Learning how to take the space I have and make it work for ideas I have has taken time, but so far, all of the memories made in our small space are worth the effort!