carlyn yandle/for metro vancouver


Here, switching a sofa and loveseat combo to two matching loveseats provided room for two comfy bar-height seats — and more options for entertaining.

We all have a blind spot when it comes to our own homes, myself included. It’s one thing to see magical revamps on HGTV, quite another to see how all those great ideas would translate into our particular — often peculiar — circumstances.

For example, I regularly hear local urban dwellers lament that they wish they had a place to entertain guests, as seen in any one of those fantasy-fueled home-decorating shows. It’s usually the reason they feel they have to move. However, more often than not, they’ve got the space already for entertaining but can’t see it. Sometimes all it takes is carving out some room.

If you’ve got an eight-inch-deep strip of counte-top dividing the kitchen from the rest of your condo or apartment, you’ve got space to entertain.

Even if you don’t have a strip of counter-top on a pass-through, you might be able to install a self-supporting shelf — Ikea’s LAK shelving comes to mind — to serve the same purpose.

Or you might be able to pick up a couple of deep decorative metal shelving brackets from Wonderbucks and attach them to a plank of dark-stained, sealed wood.

Both options work if you’re a renter as they can easily be removed if necessary. Until that time, you’ve got enough space for two or more to enjoy a fine cuppa and cookies, or a glass of wine and cheese.

In order to carve out that space, some existing furniture may need to be switched out. Often it’s a too-big sofa or dining table that is squandering much-needed space for serving up a light meal.

Consider either reducing the number of places to sit in the living area or the scale of the furniture to make room for two or more substantial counter or bar chairs. That could mean exchanging a sofa for a loveseat (since it’s rare to have three people sit on a sofa anyway) or switching the dining table to a narrower 36-inch wide table (with a leaf).

Check the height of your counter or bar; the chairs needed are either 24 inches high (counter-height) or 30 inches (bar height), available in a wide range of styles, quality and prices. Whether you’re going high-end or low, be sure they have generous-sized comfy seats and backs.

London Drugs, Linens ‘n’ Things and Moe’s are good sources for bargain versions, or watch for sales at stores around Granville Rise that offer more styles and higher quality.

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks ( She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.