11 Big Ideas for a Small Dining Room

Cramped dining spaces don't have to put a damper on your family gatherings! You can still entertain with warmth and grace, and leave your guests a bit of elbow room too. These 11 smart, simple, and space-maximizing ideas will show you how to dine in style—no matter how small your square footage.

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  1. Shelf Life


    Just as it is in kitchens, open shelving can be both beautiful and practical in a small dining room. This inexpensive weekend project frees up precious floor space and provides an ideal spot to store—and show off—your favorite tableware.

    Related: 10 Insanely Creative Shelves You Can DIY


  2. Beckoning Benchwarmer

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    If an entire set of chairs makes your dining room feel cramped, consider swapping them out for benches instead. When you’re feeding a crowd, you’ll be able to squeeze a few more friends around the table, and when the space is not in use, you can easily tuck the benches underneath for a barrier-free pathway. 

    Related: 10 Surprisingly Simple Woodworking Projects for Beginners


  3. Optical Illusion

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    This classic trick is an oldie but a goodie: Use mirrored surfaces to create a sense of spaciousness and to bounce light throughout the room. Wall-mounted mirrors over the dining table make the room seem larger, while mirrored furnishings have a breezy effect, blending into the space and becoming practically invisible.  

    Related: Mirror Magic—10 Ways of Using Mirrors to Your Design Advantage


  4. Table Transformation

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    Dining tables with drop or removable leaves have been around for centuries, and with good reason: They’re brilliant space-savers. The ability to quickly double your seating for family parties then cut it back for everyday meals makes these smart purchases ideal for any small dining room. 

    Related: 16 Designs for a Low-Cost DIY Coffee Table


  5. Flexible Furnishings


    For a minuscule room, opt for furnishings that multitask. A storage bench can serve as last-minute seating while also organizing spare linens inside; a bar cart can hold utensils or dishes on top while housing other beverage essentials beneath; and stools can be quickly brought up to the table to accommodate extra guests and then stowed in the corner as a drop station for newspapers or extra platters when not needed. 

    Related: Own Your Open Floor Plan with 8 Smart Design Tricks


  6. Think Big Picture

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    Once you’ve squeezed in a table and a smattering of chairs, there's not much room in a petite dining area for decorative touches, as they can quickly make the space seem cluttered. To keep the visuals streamlined, steer clear of displaying smaller photos and artwork. Instead, consider investing in one large-scale piece that fills the wall and keeps the aesthetic calm. 

    Related: 10 Ways to Fill a Blank Wall for Under $20


  7. Curtain Call

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    Create the illusion of higher ceilings (and inject a pop of pattern or color) by mounting your curtains above the windows. By emphasizing vertical space, the curtains will make the room feel taller and less claustrophobic. Simply install the curtain rod on the wall instead of within the window to achieve this effortless effect.

    Related: 13 DIY Window Treatments to Dress Up Your Space


  8. Counter Point

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    This clever cafe corner sneakily adds seating without eating up precious real estate. The thin wood top blends in with the rest of the room, and the stools easily slide underneath when not in use. Whether this simple and inexpensive DIY is used as a substitute for a full table or as additional seating for unexpected guests, it's a pitch-perfect perch for any small dining room. 

    Related: Gather 'Round: 6 Inspiring Dinner Table Stories


  9. The Right Light

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    Sure, the perfect ceiling fixture is the crowning touch for every dining space—but you don’t want to invite a loud and overbearing guest to your intimate party. For a small-scale room, choose an interesting but compact ceiling light that matches the color of the surrounding walls for the most stylish yet streamlined effect.

    Related: 16 Gorgeous Galley Kitchens


  10. Off the Wall

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    If overall storage space is hard to come by in your home, then this wall-mounted solution is for you. Keep extra seating close at hand by hanging spare folding chairs on a wall in the dining room. Consider upcycling your current models so that they add a decorative touch to the walls when not in use, like the rustic versions in this savvy DIYer's dining room.

    Related: Buy or DIY—8 Instant Seating Ideas for a Full House

    curbly.com via DIY Maven

  11. Form-Fitting Furniture

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    If the typical sideboard overwhelms your space, think about making a custom piece instead. In this genius DIY project, two ordinary shoe organizers were screwed together, covered in a wood frame, and painted. The end result is a storage piece sized perfectly for a small room.

    Related: 17 DIY Mini Bars to Mix Up Your Home Decor


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