Small-Space Dining Rooms

Even a tiny dining room can serve up big style. Check out these tips for routing traffic, visually stretching a room's dimensions, and packing lots of function into a petite space.

By Jessica Brinkert Holtam


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white and red bench
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Bench Press

    Take a cue from family-friendly restaurants and install a banquette. A single pedestal table allows plenty of legroom in this cozy breakfast nook. As a bonus, drawers that open from the back of one banquette bench provide extra storage.

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Sophisticated Sheen

    Create the illusion of depth, and therefore space, by adding stripes of clear polyurethane over a solid-color wall. The high-sheen finish adds drama to this dining room. Silky curtains suspended from a simple wire cable pump up the glam factor and allow the dining area to be closed off for intimate entertaining.

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Mixed Company

    Gather an assortment of seating styles around a table and your dining room will issue a relaxed, come-as-you-are invitation. In this breakfast nook, a slipcovered wing-back chair and cushioned bench promise sink-in comfort.

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Stylish Flexibility

    It's always nice to have extra seating on hand when you're expecting company, but storing extra dining chairs takes up space. This dining room includes a narrow bench topped with pillows, so it's always fashionably dressed and never short on hospitality.

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Curves, Please

    A round pedestal table is a great fit for a small eating spot. It's easier to squeeze in extra dinner guests than square tables because there are no table legs to knock knees against. It also allows the eye to travel through the room. This setting takes that idea one step further with a barely-there glass tabletop.

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Sink-In Comfort

    Create your own custom banquette by using a sofa as bench-style seating. Surrounded by a spacious table and four chairs, this nook is ready for everything from morning coffee to formal dinners to family game night.

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Slim Down

    Make the most of limited space with a long and lean dining table. Armless side chairs sidle up to this pine table, making it possible to comfortably seat six or more, something that would be impossible to do if all of the chairs had arms. At just a touch wider than an armchair, the trim table also allows traffic to move freely through the space.

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Think Big

    To make a big statement in a small dining room, use large pieces -- yes, large -- but only a few of them. A hutch introduces storage and display to this space while keeping a slim profile. Two-tone drapery panels add height, accentuating the room's lofty ceilings. Flirty chair skirts and a ruffled tablecloth keep the mood soft and romantic.

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Light Approach

    An all-white color scheme is a surefire way to lighten and brighten even the darkest of rooms, but it can fall flat if it lacks textural interest. A stone table with iron legs adds dimension and grounds this white dining area while a crystal chandelier adds shimmer overhead.

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Well-Rounded

    With a round table, there's always room for an extra chair, especially one that's armless, so opt for curves when flexibility matters most. Even though this room's pedestal table boasts a chunky base, it doesn''t weigh the room down thanks to its white-painted finish and its position in front of a bank of sunny windows.

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Stretch Your Boundaries

    Hanging a piece of artwork with a horizon line on a blank wall gives you the illusion of depth. The vertical height of this painting helps, too. Beautiful landscapes with strong horizontal lines work best to produce this visual trick.

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Transparent Style

    Select furnishings with see-through frames to help a small space feel light and open. Skinny metal chair legs virtually disappear, allowing the eye to travel around this dining area. An open bar cart, crafted from wrought iron and glass, also does its part to leave a light footprint while serving handsome functionality.

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Comfy Attire

    Allow a room to double as a dining and sitting space by gathering plush seats around a small table. Here, wicker armchairs send an invitation to linger over coffee, homework, or a good meal. Throw pillows add to the cozy comfort and provide color and pattern.

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Light Appetite

    Transparent polycarbonate chairs and a white-painted table visually recede in this dining room, allowing the floor plan to feel open and light. To add architectural interest, a fireplace surround was attached to one wall. Blue tiles grouted to plywood for easy installation add color and depth.

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Lofty Perch

    A bar-height table set is a space-efficient way to add seating within a small footprint. Breaking above the visual plane of other furnishings within the living room enables this set to feel like its own destination. That point is punctuated by a drum shade suspended above the table. For causal meals or game time, this table is ready to entertain.

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The Sky's the Limit

    Visually raise a low ceiling by covering the lower two-thirds of dining room walls with beadboard or decorative paneling. Crowning the paneling with a ledge versus a simple chair rail allows this room to dish up display space. Painting the ceiling the same color as the upper walls furthers the illusion of a taller ceiling.

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Up to the Challenge

    Decorate with multitasking in mind to create a space that's part formal dining room, library, and office. Bookshelves make the most of limited wall space surrounding a set of French doors in this great-room and create a cozy backdrop for a table that moves smoothly from task to task.

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