“Diagonal Dining” Might Be the Key to Squeezing In More People at Your Table

published Dec 9, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

Hosting any type of gathering in a small space presents challenges, especially if you’ve got a sit-down dinner planned and super tight quarters with which to seat your guests. Though you’ve likely gotten creative when it comes to seating arrangements in a small dining area, one design pro is here with the trick you likely haven’t yet tried: diagonal dining.

Jen Nash, who serves as design excellence manager at Magnet, shares with Apartment Therapy how simply shifting the angle of your dining table can actually maximize space, especially if you’ve got a room that isn’t closed off by doors.

“Whilst dining and eating can be the most daunting aspect of hosting in a small space, there are actually lots of clever layout strategies you can use to maximize space and ensure all guests can dine comfortably,” Nash tells Apartment Therapy. “Rearranging furniture and placing it at the perimeter of the room will open up a central space where the dining table and chairs can go. You may want to consider diagonal dining — positioning your table at an angle to run diagonally across the room. This clever trick maximizes floor space and allows for more seating.”

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

It might seem counterintuitive at first, but a diagonal angle might make it easier for guests to maneuver around, while also making use of the frequently empty (and unnecessary) space behind the two heads of the table.

Of course, you can always create a more informal setup, getting creative with seating and table options if you simply don’t have the space for a formal dining table. “If space is really tight and perhaps you don’t have a table, don’t feel the pressure to have a formal dining set up,” says Nash. “An informal dining experience can be just as special, and in a small space, it can feel more cozy and intimate. Set up food in a buffet style, using the kitchen countertops as a serving surface and then dot chairs around the space where guests can sit.”

“Not many people in small living have chairs in the dozens, so get creative with your seating too,” she adds. “From piano benches to dressing chairs, make use of what you have and tie the dining experience together by layering them with cozy blankets and cushions.”

No matter the amount of space (or lack thereof) you’re working with, your guests are sure to feel comfortable and happy just by being there, so go with the flow and don’t sweat the small stuff — in this case, literally and figuratively.