Want to realise the potential of your small dining room? Whether your table and chairs are crammed into the tiniest of rooms, or are just stealing a corner from another space in the house, there are lots of things you can do to make meal times a pleasure.
The solution to the first may be adaptable furniture – look for slimline or extendable tables. Round and oval designs might be a better option than square or rectangular as you can squeeze more people in. Hinged wall-hung tables are also worth considering: just lift and secure the table top when you eat and lower again when you are finished so you can make full use of the space at all times. Stackable chairs are a good option, too. Or think about bench seating, which can accommodate more diners. Factor in dining room storage. Benches that can house hidden cupboards may make them a better option than chairs.
Small spaces can benefit from clean, unfussy decorating schemes that don’t fill a room with fuss. Go for pale, unpatterned ceilings, walls, woodwork and floors and then look for furniture that will add the interest. Second-hand pieces can bring character and warmth to your home and can be stripped back and customised to lead a decorating scheme. Add a lick of a paint, freshen up upholstery or add cushions in favourite fabrics for a personalised touch. Mix and match pieces for a relaxed, eclectic feel. If you have the budget, another alternative is to go for showpiece designer furniture that can transform a look single handedly without you having to do anything else in the room.
If your home is too compact for a separate dining room, then consider incorporating a dining area in an open-plan living room. Take a look at these small living room ideas for more inspiration and advice in doing so.
After more dining room inspiration? Take a look at our dining room wallpaper ideas
This dining space is not much wider than its window, but it has been maximised with the addition of built-in bench seating. Include storage under benches so you are not wasting any space. Add seat pads and scatter cushions in a mix of coloured fabrics. Squeeze the largest table possible between the two benches and make the space special by hanging an oversized pendant light above. A lovely, cosy arrangement.
If another room houses your dining furniture, design with the whole space in mind. This living area and dining zone share the same overall decorating scheme. Stripped and painted flooring and whitewashed walls create a coherent, easy-on-the-eye feel. Matching dining and coffee tables keep things co-ordinated between the zones, while a rug demarcates the living area; the round shape of the tabletop the dining area.
Similar dining furniture
If your dining area consists of nothing more than a table and four chairs, work them hard to create a decorative scheme of their own. Give old wooden furniture a new lease of life by painting in shades of your choice. This green and yellow combination brings a country feel to a table and chairs. Look for offcuts of fabric and hem up so that you always have a pretty selection of tablecloths to hand – this floral turns the table into a very special place indeed when teamed with a display of fresh flowers.
When entertaining guests, try and squeeze a couple of armchairs into your dining room – you can always move them back out later. Occasional chairs will provide the opportunity for chatting and lounging before and after eating without guests having to feel tied to the table. This space is ideal for the purpose, with a smart fireplace creating a focal point between alcoves that provide the nooks for additional seating.
If your dining table is in your kitchen your decorating options will be limited, so make your dining table special with fabric instead. Co-ordinate a look across tablecloths and napkins, blinds, aprons and even oven gloves to turn the table into the centrepiece of the room. Here the gentle autumnal shades of the cloth and cushion covers have a real decorative impact on the space as a whole.
Small doesn’t have to mean plain. Where space isn’t the wow factor, draw the attention with colour and pattern. One side of this small dining room has been given over to vibrant paint and pattern. A feature wallpaper takes centre stage, flanked by fuchsia pink alcoves in a wonderfully lively decorating scheme. Bench seating is a wise choice for this small space, while pendant lamps add a little mood lighting come night-time.
Even studio flats can have a dining table and chairs. Look for ultra slimline tables (this one even has a storage drawer) and second-hand chairs that you can customise. These old chapel chairs are wonderfully distinctive and full of character. Whitewashed and treated to touches of lilac, red and gold they create a lovely mix of old and new when teamed with the stripped back table.
Go for a single-colour decorating scheme in a small dining room. In this space, the same pale grey shade has been used on walls, fireplace, table and chairs so that the backdrop seems to recede, making the room feel larger than it really is. Pick one element of the room and use it to introduce a contrast shade – here it’s lilac curtains that provide the interest. The tabletop has been left plain in keeping with the floor, while seat covers introduce a touch of pattern.
Use a window to add interest. The view of a well stocked garden, open countryside or cityscape can be all that’s needed to add interest and beauty to small dining room. If you are lucky enough to have a picture window, reserve a spot right next to it for your dining table – it will work wonders. Here, the clean-lined contemporary furniture and pared-back artwork don’t fight with the view, making for a lovely, peaceful space.
A dark, tiny space with a low ceiling might seem an unlikely contender for a successful dining room scheme, but just look at this wonderful design. An all-over whitewash of walls, ceiling and floor has a modernising effect, making a dark space light and creating the feel of a gallery or exhibition space. The white backdrop throws everything in the room into sharp relief: artwork, bench, vintage chairs and farmhouse table, but it’s the pops of red (artwork, lampshade, table) that are the final ingredient of this successful scheme – one that manages to be more than the sum of its parts.