Dining Table Styles for Small Spaces
When we first move into homes of our own, the desire to create fully-realised interiors that are planned from top to bottom can be all-consuming. But, what happens when you don’t have as much space as you’d imagined or dreamed? As houses get both smaller and more expensive, more of us are having to resort to plan B, which means compromising on size.
When it comes to the dining area, you might be picturing a lavish, vibrant space for your friends and family to congregate over good food and better wine. A small, squishy dining room could bring this vision crashing down – but it absolutely doesn’t have to! Armed with space-saving hacks, a few design tricks, and of course, the right furniture, you’ll be able to create that warm and inviting space no matter the size you’re working with.
Some styles suit smaller dining rooms better, and this even extends to colour, embellishments and shape. Here’s how to find and style the perfect dining table for your small dining room.
Tips for choosing a dining table
Selecting the right shape
If you’re working with a room that’s, for lack of a better term, cramped, the worst thing you can do is minimise that space even further with the wrong furniture pieces. Keep in mind that whatever you select, you’ll need ample leg room both around and under the table, and you’ll have to fit the requisite number of chairs. You might also want other features in your dining room, like a bar cart or a sideboard, so plan ahead for those too. Work out a rough size in square metres that you’ve got to play with, and then stick to those confines when you’re picking out your new piece.
The shape of your dining table will not only make or break the amount of free space in the room, but it will also communicate an element of its style. Square or rectangular dining tables have their perks when you’re juggling a small amount of space, as they can be pushed up against a wall when necessary. They also consume space in a linear way, which will generally align with your other furniture pieces, such as buffets or side tables. Rectangular tables declare a modern, clean and structured style that fits with many interior aesthetics.
Of course, you’ve always got the option of a circular or oval table, too! While these don’t take up room as logically, per se, they can definitely still be space-savers. They fit well in corners and allow other pieces to sit around them comfortably. Circular tables in particular give off a geometric, whimsical feel, but can also be super contemporary. Oval tables are a minimalist favourite and are a nice compromise between rectangular and round styles.
How ‘heavy’ your dining table is, both physically and stylistically, will dictate how full or spacious the room feels. Furniture pieces with smaller, lighter frames will sit better in a cosy space, not just in terms of the room they take up but also how they accommodate other elements. Plus, something that physically weighs less can be moved around to suit the space in its different stages, from everyday life to entertaining guests.
Something else that really helps to reduce overwhelm in a small space is the structure and style of the dining table’s legs. Heavy legs that sit at a 90-degree angle from the corners of the table are out, and thin yet sturdy, angled legs are in! The latter makes more space under and around the table and frees up floor space, opening up the room.
Style and flair
Let’s talk about style! Always the fun part of selecting a new furniture piece, certain styles lend themselves better to tight spaces. This generally ties back into elements like size and weight, but there are a few other elements to consider throughout the selection process.
Modern dining tables in particular are very space-friendly, as they’re typically very streamlined, sleek and angular. Scandinavian pieces also really work in small spaces, and in fact, they’re almost made for them! Scandinavian style is all about minimalism, so often these furniture pieces are multipurpose or light and understated. Add these into your small dining room to maximise the space around the table and create a clean, comfortable and chic look.
On the other hand, although this isn’t a definitive rule, ornate pieces don’t always mesh well in cramped spaces. Stay away from intricate, heavy details, legs that are thick or jut out, and elements that don’t add to the surface area of the dining table. After all, there’s no point trying to scrimp on space when you’re just going to occupy it again with unnecessary elements. These details are usually seen in traditional and French provincial styles, among others, so if these are your go-tos, you’ll want to reconsider the other items in the room so that you can really hero your dining table without totally compromising on space.
Making your furniture work for you
Until now, we’ve solely been talking about ‘traditional’ dining tables – but what about a type of table that’s designed specifically for small spaces? Enter the extendable table. Although this might remind you of something your nan might’ve owned while you were growing up, the world of extendable tables has totally evolved in the last decade or so, and there are so many beautiful options available. No longer are these heavy, clunky or difficult to work with – new designs are sleek and the ideal space-savers.
Dining table placement
Once you’ve selected the ideal dining table, the next question arises – where do you put it? Although it might feel instinctual to place it in the centre of the space, that isn’t always possible when working with a teeny-tiny space.
We’ve already touched upon placing your table against a wall, and in smaller families where you don’t need a huge number of chairs, this is possibly the best way to save space. It also creates a cosy, intimate feel. You can also place your table near the wall, but not directly against it, so there’s enough room for the full quota of chairs. This will keep the table in a nook of sorts within the dining room, but still permits for enough space to live freely and with no restrictions.
Of course, it’s not a total no-no to centre your dining table in your space! Just ensure there’s enough walking room on all sides and that it’s not inhibiting regular use of any other furniture pieces or decor items.
How many chairs do you need?
You’ve found the perfect table, put it in the right spot and now, there’s one thing left to do – place your chairs! If you’re purchasing new chairs, ensure they coordinate with your table and most importantly, tuck neatly under it without any issues.
Depending on the size of the room and the table, as well as how many members are in your family, it’s also worth evaluating whether you need a chair for every place at the table. You might be able to get away with just six, four or even two chairs. Although this does prohibit you a little when it comes to entertaining, there’s always the option of utilising deck chairs, kitchen stools and other seating options in the house to create a ‘full’ table when friends come over.
With these style and size tenets in mind, selecting a new dining table and finding its place in your home will be a breeze. With a few small compromises and a sleek, simple mindset, you can have your cake and eat it too – it just might be a slightly smaller cake!
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