Don't let a compact room be a barrier to creating your dream scheme – we've got all the tips, tricks and expert advice you'll need
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.
Want more dining room inspiration? READ: Dining room storage ideas to keep your scheme clutter-free
Choose a round pedestal table and armless dining chairs to visually enhance a space. Keep the focus off your diminutive quarters and draw attention to unique details in a small dining room. Use a sugary palette of pale pastels to keep the subtle colour even across a compact room. Make your dining area the star of the show by painting a circular design on the wall to define a zone.
Work every inch
Don’t let a small dining room restrict you. Increase the space in a narrow dining room with a slimline table and wall-hung accessories. If you have a large family or a continuous stream of guests visiting then a small, circular table may not be an option for you. Instead, invest in a slender table that will fit neatly into a narrow space, such as a kitchen-diner, conservatory or even a hallway. Free up floor space with wall-hung lighting on pivots that can be positioned over your table to provide efficient task lighting. Wire it up to a dimmer switch for an ambient glow – ideal for intimate meals. Finally, punctuate the scheme with artwork and table decorations to add character and personality.
Read more: Is the dining room a thing of the past?
Visually expand a small dining room by using a monochromatic palette. Keep the walls and floor clutter-free and minimal, letting the personality come in the form of cleverly designed furniture. Purchase a round table with chairs that can be tucked in when not in use. There are no corner legs to wiggle around and it can be moved about easily when needed. Before buying, consider what size table your space will accommodate, your ideal size (circular or oval) and which material will best complement your current scheme. Ease of use is important, too, and do think about what you’ll do with seating when it’s not being used – fold-up or stacking chairs are great options.
Theme a nook
If your small dining area is tucked away in a corner, give it an instant update with a theme. Include flourishes of colour in accessories, soft furnishings and wall art to give the space its own character. Set against a white backdrop, a chestnut table brings a traditional, homely touch to the corner. Incorporate a bench, which can be neatly tucked underneath when not in use. It is also a great option for when you need to seat more than two people.
Think beyond your space
If you don’t have a separate dining zone, take a look around your home. If the occasion demands, or you just feel like it, why not set up a temporary dining area in an underused space? Position a slimline table in a narrow corridor or hallway. Keep the space fuss-free and bring in furniture from other rooms or use pieces that can be folded away, stacked or moved around at a moment’s notice.
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Tie it in
Small dining rooms are often nooks carved out of larger spaces. Unify the dining area with the surrounding spaces by employing similar design characteristics throughout. Use armless and backless benches that can be easily tucked beneath a table when not in use. Don’t let a small table stop you from hosting a big meal – extendable versions are a great solution that offer flexibility for every dining situation and save on valuable floor space when not in use.
Make it multifunctional
Few of us have the luxury of a separate dining room these days, but however limited space might be it’s important to incorporate storage into your scheme wherever you can. Build a low-level, storage bench – it may take up a little floor space, but it will declutter and streamline your space while providing extra seating should you require it. If you can, have it made to match the rest of your furniture for a scheme that is cohesive and considered. Using low-level storage will also free up wall space – display a collection of framed prints that will add character and interest.
Create a cosy corner
When space is tight, opt for extra comfort with a banquette. Blend it into the rest of the room by choosing furniture and colours that chime with the surrounding décor. Not only do banquettes offer a more casual, laid-back style of dining, but they’re also a great space-saver, requiring less room than chairs and offering valuable storage under the seats. Re-create the laid-back vibe with heaps of cushions and accessories, all tailored to fit your scheme.
Keep it minimal
Look to abstract modernism when designing a dining room – its linear furniture and sharp, clean lines are perfect for a compact space. Incorporate a countertop that is almost shelf-like in its appearance, while bar stools with slim, spindle legs are a great choice for minimal and compact schemes. Continue the less-is-more approach on the walls and flooring.
Make it a family matter
Create a fun, friendly kitchen-diner that the whole family can enjoy. Blend a corner banquette with white walls and white décor to make it nearly invisible. Built-in bench seating is an incredibly efficient use of space, especially in smaller rooms. Employ additional chairs and stools alongside whenever extra seating is needed. Use see-through furniture for a look that visually blends into a scheme rather than dominating it. Elsewhere, stick to a primary palette – it is the easiest and simplest way to create a cheerful mood in your home.
By the window
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.
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.
Make the most of existing features
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.
Pick a colour palette
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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.