When my housemate and I were looking for our new flat, we spent weeks getting led around three-beds that were really two-beds and two-beds that were really one-beds. In fact, not one flat within our budget had a living room.
The idea of living without a living room seemed scary. I’d heard rumours that no-lounge flats were anti-social, and more like student halls than actual homes. And, most importantly, where would I go to pour Minstrels and wine into my mouth on Saturday nights?
Thing is, loungeless living is the reality for lots of twentysomethings right now. One in six shared houses has no living room. And, while it’s pretty shit that things have come to this (thanks, terrible property market), my housemate and I have managed to just about make it work. Here’s how:
Pick your kitchen right
There needs to be room for at least a small table or sofa, otherwise no one will hang out there. Jess, 25, says: ‘When I was house-hunting, my flatmates and I tested the size of the kitchens by playing a game where a couple of us would sit at the table and the others would pretend to do kitchen tasks. That way we knew there was space for us to all be in there at once.’
Basically, if it’s a galley kitchen with a breakfast bar then GTFO of there.
Sofa vs table
It might sound like a low-budget remake of Alien vs Predator, but Sofa vs Table is the most important discussion you’ll ever have about your kitchen-lounge (kounge). Opt for a sofa if you want somewhere to laze and don’t mind eating off your lap everyday. Go for a table if you like having friends around for dinner or if, like me, you’re the kind of person who struggles to hold a bowl of soup without spilling it. We opted for a table, and while it isn’t comfy, we can store things under it.
Put a TV in the kitchen
It switches the kounge vibe from ‘This is where we silently eat and wait until we earn more than £22,000’ to ‘This is where we watch Say Yes To The Dress and laugh like we’re in a stock photo’.
Put up a high corner-shelf for it or attach it to the wall with a bracket; that way it won’t take up any extra space. (I tried doing this and it’s actually quite hard so you might want to follow these tips.)
Make your kitchen extra nice
Embrace the Kirsty Allsopp country cottage atmosphere that comes from mixing lounge things with kitchen things. (Even if it upsets your neat-freak urges.) Get those VALJE box shelves from IKEA, pile them high with DVDs and books and magazines, then put your nice china and glasses (OK, your novelty shot glasses) on top. Then put up as many hooks as you can fit on the walls to hang up posters, fairy lights and pots and pans.
Washing your clothes
Nothing kills the romantic vibe of an M&S Dine In For Two quicker than having to yell over the rumble of the washing machine. Wait until the dead of the night to launder, or get used to people putting your washing on pause.
If you usually dry your laundry on an airer, you’re going to want to leave it in the corridor and not the kitchen. Otherwise you’ll end up fighting your way around it to get to the knife drawer and/or your entire workwear wardrobe will reek of whatever anyone’s cooking. Even if your corridor is incredibly thin, you can craft a handy dryer to hang from the ceiling using this guide.
Accept you’re going to have to entertain guests in your room
Head to Wilko and buy this throw that’s as soft as a teddy bear. Combine it with an array of fun cushions. That way, if you’ve got guests around and people are cooking in the kitchen, you can make your bed into a sofa-den. If your room’s big enough, you could even splash out on a fancy armchair (but that can make it feel like a therapist’s office).
Accept there’s going to be a ‘communal issues’ room
One bedroom will end up being the place everyone visits when they want to cry about that douchebag at work. The room chooses itself but is largely based on its proximity to the entrance of the flat, comfort and whether the owner is a good shoulder to cry on. If this ends up being your room, remember it’s totally OK to ask people to give you your own space sometimes. Do stock up on tissues though.
Accept that if you have a house party, everyone’s going to hang out in your rooms
Find some good hiding places for your important things (wardrobes and under the bed are both winners) and you might want to have a gander at our guide to cleaning up post party so you’re prepared for the wine-stained duvet.
Make an extra effort to hang out with your housemates
Without a living room to dance to 4Music in, it’s easy to fall into the trap of locking yourself away in a Netflix hole most of the time. But put in the hours with your housemates, even if the kitchen is too small for y’all to be in at the same time.
Jess says: ‘My housemates and I bought door stops to prop our bedroom doors open so we can chat across the corridor.’ Or, y’know, just go to the pub.
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Picture: Matilda Hill-Jenkins
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.