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Small-Space Soirées: 8 Tips from a Paris Apartment, Courtesy of Rebekah Peppler

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Small-Space Soirées: 8 Tips from a Paris Apartment, Courtesy of Rebekah Peppler

April 19, 2024

For Rebekah Peppler, entertaining isn’t a special-occasion endeavor. The Paris-based food and drinks writer, whose new South-of-France-focused book, Le Sud, is out on April 23, frequently hosts dinner parties at the Montmartre apartment she shares with her partner. Though the one-bedroom place is small, it boasts a generous balcony that spans the entire length of the home—a perfect spot for l’heure de l’apéro (the French tradition of happy hour) with friends.

“It looks out over the city,” Rebekah says. “Because we’re on this hill—and Paris doesn’t have a lot of them—we get a vantage point you don’t often get here. We get to see all of those beautiful chimneys popping up and blue roofs and, of course, the Eiffel Tower is there as well. It’s a very special view. I feel very lucky to have it. And it works out well for entertaining in nice weather.”

Inside, too, Rebekah has furnished the compact space with gatherings in mind. She sourced an oversized vintage marble tabletop that can seat six guests comfortably (eight to ten, if diners are willing to squeeze) and she converted a vintage dresser into a bar for displaying bottles and storing hosting essentials. She also identified all the elements of her home, from her fireplace mantel to her tulip-shaped nightstands to her Dutch ovens, that can double as party tools when people come over. The result is a seemingly effortless soirée every time.

Here, Rebekah shares her eight best tips for entertaining, no matter how small the space.

Photography by Joann Pai from À Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way by Rebekah Peppler (Chronicle Books) unless noted.

1. Source a multifunctional dining table.

despite the petite size of the living room, a big dining table was a must have  17
Above: Despite the petite size of the living room, a big dining table was a must-have for Rebekah, who found this oval-shaped, solid marble surface on Craigslist and set it atop a modest wood base. Photograph by Cindy Nixon.
&#8\2\20;prioritizing a large dining table has always been important to me  18
Above: “Prioritizing a large dining table has always been important to me in any space that I’m in,” Rebekah says. “I love to host. I love to have people over. And the only way to make it work in a smaller space, for me, at least, is to also use it as a desk.” Photograph via @rebekahpeppler.

2. Rethink the bar cart.

instead of a traditional bar cart, a vintage dresser displays rebekah&#8\2\ 19
Above: Instead of a traditional bar cart, a vintage dresser displays Rebekah’s extensive collection of spirits (which she’s amassed while writing about cocktails for the New York Times) and provides much-needed storage for accessories. “Shot glasses are in the top drawer, the middle one has linens and napkins, and on the bottom are extra candles and incense,” she says. “Underneath, I have this gorgeous silver ice bucket. I basically shove all my cocktail making tools, my shakers and jiggers, inside of that, so they’re hidden in there.” Photograph via @rebekahpeppler.

3. Turn the mantel into a serving space.

day to day, rebekah&#8\2\17;s fireplace mantel is styled with florals and o 20
Above: Day to day, Rebekah’s fireplace mantel is styled with florals and objects, but she transforms it while entertaining. “I use it as a lot of different things when I’m hosting a dinner party,” she explains. “Before the meal starts, I use that as my bar space. I set up all the glassware and the wine key and whatever I’m going to need to make any cocktails. Then I use that as a base for extra dishes or extra bread and butter.” Photograph via @rebekahpeppler.
SmallSpace Soires 8 Tips from a Paris Apartment Courtesy of Rebekah Peppler portrait 7 21
Above: Mid-party.

4. Bring the party outside.

after the drinks are mixed, rebekah and her friends typically sip them on the b 22
Above: After the drinks are mixed, Rebekah and her friends typically sip them on the balcony, taking advantage of the extra square footage—and the stellar view. “In nice weather, I often just have the doors wide open and guests are out there,” she says. Photograph by Giada Paoloni.

5. Repurpose existing furniture.

rebekah doesn&#8\2\17;t have any room to store patio furniture, so she repu 23
Above: Rebekah doesn’t have any room to store patio furniture, so she repurposes her tulip-shaped Italian marble nightstands as outdoor tables for drinks and snacks on the balcony. Photograph via @rebekahpeppler.
&#8\2\20;my stack of books and my water and all of our things have to be mo 24
Above: “My stack of books and my water and all of our things have to be moved off of those onto the fireplace mantel in the bedroom to be able to bring those tables outside,” Rebekah adds.

6. Dutch ovens make good coolers.

when rebekah needs to chill wine, the first vessel she reaches for is her vinta 25
Above: When Rebekah needs to chill wine, the first vessel she reaches for is her vintage silver ice bucket, which can accommodate two bottles at a time. She keeps the rest of the night’s beverages cold by filling her enameled cast iron and stainless steel Dutch ovens with ice. “Dutch ovens are my go-to,” she says. “I have a few in the kitchen, and there’s one that lives outside all the time. I’ll pretty much use anything to keep drinks cold. One of my biggest pet peeves is when things aren’t the perfect temperature.”

7. Use the good dinnerware.

since rebekah prop styles all her own books, she&#8\2\17;s accumulated a tr 26
Above: Since Rebekah prop-styles all her own books, she’s accumulated a trove of dinnerware over the years. She utilizes it all on a regular basis, whether she’s cooking just for herself and her partner or for guests. “I just really love using precious things for normal occasions,” she says. “I have a lot of glossy white porcelain from Astier de Villatte, which is fragile but shockingly less fragile than you think it is. When you have nice things, it’s nice to use and touch them every day. Obviously, things have broken and that’s just a good lesson in letting go.” Photograph via @rebekahpeppler.

8. Plan ahead.

the number one way to make entertaining seem effortless in the moment—es 27
Above: The number one way to make entertaining seem effortless in the moment—especially when space is tight—is to put in the effort ahead of time. Rebekah uses Post-It notes to indicate which plates, bowls, serving platters, and glasses she’s going to use for particular dishes and drinks on the menu (a move we first saw in the kitchen of event planner David Stark). Everything else gets tucked away. “It just allows me to create space in my brain to shop and cook and host,” she says.

More entertaining know-how:

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