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How to Design a Small Dining Space (Without It Feeling Totally Cramped)

Just because your home doesn’t have room for a full, formal dining room doesn’t mean you still can’t create a great space for entertaining. Working with a small dining space can be tough, but with a little planning and forethought, you can make nearly any amount of square footage work for you.

Don’t believe us? Keep scrolling. We’ve brought you our best tips on how to design a small dining space without leaving it feeling overly cramped. Read on to see which ideas will work best in your own home. With our help, you can create a space that feels equally purposeful and inviting.


Make sure to define the space as an area unto itself. Image: Marcel Page Photography

Define the space

The first step to creating any space is to define it. If your dining space is part of another room like the kitchen or living area, you’re going to want to make it clear that this space has its own purpose. Doing so will help make the function of the space crystal clear, which is crucial to any successful interior design project.

As for how to pull it off, there are a couple ways to ground a space unto itself. You could add a hanging light fixture like the one in the picture above, which will also help to bring more visual interest into the space. Alternatively, you could choose to incorporate an area rug under the dining table. Using either or both of these methods is akin to a finishing touch that will help your dining space feel like a complete thought rather than table and chairs that were just set out in the room.

small dining space

Play around with seating alternatives. Image: Space Craft Joinery

Get creative with seating

Sometimes when you’re working with small spaces, you don’t have the luxury of following a traditional layout. While a normal formal dining room would typically include a long table lined on either side with chairs, it doesn’t have to look that way. You have the freedom to get creative with seating and to find an arrangement that works well for you.

With that in mind, think outside the box. Is your dining space in an awkward corner that could benefit from rounded seating instead of the traditional rectangle or square? Could you use benches in place of chairs to take up less space overall? If you’re truly in tight quarters, would you benefit from multifunctional seating that doubles as storage?


Choose furniture that’s proportionate to the space you have. Image: Kronfoto

Choose light furniture

In interior design, it’s important to consider proportion, or the relationship in size between all the objects in the space. While that may sound vague, it just means you should make an effort to source objects that look appropriately sized for the room, rather than pieces that feel like they’ve been stuffed in or are drowning in open space.

In small spaces, you want to consider light furniture, meaning that it looks light in terms of the visual weight. In general, this means opting for furniture that has legs. Being able to see light come through the furniture, rather than having it closed off and sitting heavily on the ground, gives the illusion of having more space.


Drive home the cozy feel with accessories. Image: Shannon Crain

Keep it cozy

Finally, keep in mind that dining rooms are intimate spaces. They’re spaces meant for people to sit and talk for hours while enjoying a good meal. Small spaces inherently add to that sense of intimacy, so there’s no reason not to embrace it. In order to make the most out of your small dining space, you should make an effort to make it feel comfy and cozy.

The obvious answer for how to do this is by bringing in textiles. Add some cushions to your seating and, if you have the ability, some throw pillows like the ones shown above. Beyond that, the right accessories can also bring a sense of coziness into the space. Think about investing in some soothing wall art or getting a nice centerpiece for the table that can become a focal point.

Are you working with a small dining space? How have you made the design work for your home? Tell us in the comments below.

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