[Edited GoPro footage taken during half an hour of the party, handily edited by Vox Studios.]
I downsized to a tiny studio three months ago, and resigned myself to the fact that I'd never have a housewarming. Who could possibly host a fabulous soiree in 241 square feet? Sure, there are a lot of tips and tricks out there, but the place feels cramped when I don't put away my clothes and shoes immediately and when my boyfriend and I are both working on our laptops, which didn't bode well for a shindig with more than 30 invitees. But it's Micro Week, so goshdarnit, I made a go of it. In my nightmares, people ended up smushed up against each other like at an over-packed, fire hazard-filled nightclub, except with worse music and lighting that's not dim enough to hide the debauchery. But in reality, the 22 (!) guests who swung by the gathering didn't suffocate each otherin fact, it went better than I ever expected.
1) Maximize floor space. For the purposes of this post, I calculated the exact square footage of the apartment. The main room, whose dimensions are given on the floorplan, totals 196.44. Then the small foyer/entranceway area comes to 21.375, plus the bathroom (excluding tub) is 23.25. That equals 241.065 square feet total.
While decorating over the last few months, I've attempted to squelch my natural pack-rat tendencies, putting anything not vitally necessary in a storage unit in Long Island City. I eschewed a dresser in favor of rattan bins from the Container Store that I put on tall, not-deep bookshelves from West Elm that I inherited from cousins in 2008. A friend moving in with her boyfriend generously passed on her TV (which I mountedokay, okay, paid someone to mount) and her five-foot-wide couch, which actually folds into a twin bed, so that I can have guests.
I thought for so many people in an admittedly small space, it went quite well. I am a frequent gesticulator and don't remember clocking anyone. I don't have a coffee table, and am planning to use a rolling bar cart to serve a similar function. I turned two storage cubes stacked on top of each other into a side table of sorts and bought a plethora of rolling underbed drawyers. I took advantage of every square inch of the sizable closet off the entranceway by putting a shoe rack over one door, a jewelry rack over the other one, tiered hangers inside, and stacked baskets and bins and drawers on its top shelf and along the floor space at its bottom.
All of that is to say that I tried to use as little as furniture as possible. And except for the fact that I have a regular full-size bed instead of a Murphy bed, I think I succeeded. All the more room, I figured, for people to stand and sip their drinks.
The apartment comfortably fit the amount of people and in fact, because of the floor space smallness each guest was able to talk and interact with many people in a relatively short period of time. The bottom line: I looked at my watch and was stunned that it was almost midnight, my witching hour, and the time spent chatting and "wining" flew by. 2) Use disposable flatware and cutlery. Onto the more party-centric lessons. This one was a no-brainer. I have the smallest dishwasher in humanity, but I don't have enough glasses for more than about six people (unless we're doing the wine-from-mugs thing). It makes clean-up easier, and keeps the sink free of discarded plates and glassware. Any clutter in a small space makes it seem even smaller.
I was impressed by how efficient the kitchen is, the apartment has a good flow, and it really didn't feel micro while we were inside. Maybe there is something about having so many people inside of it that illustrated just how long the room is? I think the fact that your bathroom is decently-sized really helps the apartment feel bigger. I have been in bigger apartments that had airplane-like bathrooms, and it always makes the rest of the apartment feel smaller for the comparison. 3) Eschew mixed drinks. Making cocktails requires ice, and ice requires space. A person also must stand in one place to mix them without getting jostled, which is a tall order. So red wine, white wine, prosecco, and beer were procured in advance. It's also easy play the hostess, topping up people's emptying glasses, if you're pouring out a simple solution rather than a mixture.
One thing that stuck out to me was that the fact that it was a small space without much seating actually made for better mingling, since there wasn't an opportunity for people to get too settled or cloistered (and using the bed for coats helped with this, too). 4) Find a solution for coats. When readying the small apartment for the imminent arrivals, I panicked. "Where will I put people's coats?" I asked my mom, who was helping me set up and ended up staying into the wee hours of the morning. "I should have hosted this in the summer, when people don't sport 10 pounds of outerwear." "Is your shower curtain rod attached tightly to the wall?" she asked. I nodded. So I gathered my extra hangers and got ready to hang the coats there. But it turns out that other duties occupied me, so most of them ended up on the bed. C'est la vie.
I thought the party went very well, and a smaller apartment is conducive to a good party, depending on how many people show. The right ratio of guests to space is importantyou don't want too much space. I did think the builder should have included better storage space in the bathroom, such as built-in cupboards or shelves. I noticed you made good use of the space overallI liked the colorful baskets over the kitchen shelves. There seemed to be endless places to hang coats, from the door to the bathtub to the bed. (A plus.) I barely registered the bed, and think it is good you have a sofa. Where do you eat? Maybe my view of a table was blocked by guests.
5) Avoid cooking anything during the party. Before people arrived, I had set out hummus and edamame dip with chips, as well as plates of grapes, blueberries and pre-cut strawberries. While people were minglingin close quarters, of courseI heated up mini-hotdogs and made a baked brie in my combination microwave-convection oven (which is the size of a microwave and built into my cabinetry). While it worked out, I realized I was taking up valuable space standing at the counter and opening and closing the oven. Also, the room got hot.
I expected some dorm room-style party insanity but ultimately felt like the space accommodated everyone really well. I thought the studio had a nice depth to it, so there was room for everyone to fit. That being said, I think I've never moved less during a party. I pretty much stayed in one spot and talked to whoever happened to be around meit seemed easier than making my way toward the back end of the apartment. I was also obsessed with your kitchen. After recently apartment hunting for my own small space, I realized the one serious sacrifice I'd be making was on the kitchen, so I like to see how others have faired. Where's the stove? What's it like cooking right next to your bed? Oh, at least there's space for a microwave. Those were a few of my many thoughts on your kitchen I had during the night.
6) Decor matters, a little bit. My tiny yellow area rug now needs a good wash. So maybe put light-colored items away, or purchase dark-colored floor coverings if you're expecting a lot of foot traffic. I think the art on the walls helped make the place feel more cozy and lived-in, and it doesn't take up any square footage. I learned that I don't have speakers loud enough to counteract the chatter of two dozen people, so we attempted to play music videos from the TV, which we swiveled out. But I was missing a crucial audio cable. In any case, maybe music would have overwhelmed the small space? Either way, have a music gameplan.
First off, I really didn't feel cramped. You always think you need so much space, and then everyone at the party gets stuck in the kitchen near the booze and food, so this just made that all the more efficient. I did think it was really clever to store the coats on the shower rod. And I also thought the kitchen had a really efficient setup. I normally wouldn't choose an electric stove (versus gas) but it seemed to give you more counter space when you weren't using it. The copious framed photos on the walls gave the whole place a sophisticated feel, even if it was a small space.
7) Prepare to get cozy. There are no two ways about it. Especially with the coats taking up the bed, everyone must stand. The couch has two seats, and a small armchair fits one. Remember that standing for an hour burns 20 to 50 calories. Think of it as a workout!
I guess it was an interesting experiment, in that the space was made larger by being divided by clumps of people. If you wanted to get a few feet over, you had a journey before you because there were obstacles. You couldn't make a cool walk over to someone, say, if you wanted to, because you'd have to squeeze through the entire party. And geometry became integral, as you'd have to stand with one leg on a couch, or something, while trying not to turn the light switch on and off. And if you did get over a few feet, it was a whole other territory. 8) Beware of guests who gesticulate wildly. Overall, it didn't seem that party-goers got in each others' way. The missteps were minor and funny, not annoying. (I hope.) I did hear someone apologize to his neighbor after brushing her with a particularly emotive sweep of the hand. But that happens at any party, right?
The space was larger than I expected, but its flow was also facilitated by the amazing cross-apartment placement of grapes vs. halva. One of my favorite things to experience was your convection microwave because that thing was awesome. The size made it really hard to skirt any conversation, although that wasn't particularly something I wanted to do anyway. In fact, I found that conversations were more intense, if you will, than at other parties because there was no where for people to recede to, so they just kept going. That was actually great. Funny seen thing: my mom fanning herself in front of the window.
9) Seek outand takeadvice from small-space experts. A few months prior, Curbed toured the incredibly adorable 242-foot-apartment of Tobin and Jourdan, and their space-saving measures were an inspiration. Jourdan was kind enough to stop by the party, offered the following enthusiastic assessment. "I'm very impressed 22 people attended! Those are some major micro hosting skills. I've never ventured over 12 people, so you should feel proud," she wrote to me after the party. "Your closet and jewelry organization is downright aspirational, and I love your hilarious and unrestrained use of your label maker, too." Whew.
The lessons are that you can pull off a small apartment party if: 1) You have an extremely clean and well-organized place,
2) You find a good, out of the way spot for bulky winter coats,
3) You have wonderful people over,
4) You have your completely lovely and charming mother come hang out.
D'awwww. Damage done, according to the recycling load we took out: seven wine bottles; 18 beer bottles; paper plates eaten clean. A success, if a somewhat endearingly awkward one, by all accounts.
· Tiny Apartment, Big Party: Pull Off a Holiday Bash in a Small Space [Brick Underground]
· Micro Week archive [Curbed]