10 Small Living Rooms That Make Space for a Dining Table, Too

updated Aug 4, 2023
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I’m currently looking for an apartment in Lisbon, and one thing that I have come to terms with is that it’s probably going to be tiny. This hilly city likes its compact apartments, and when you have a pocket-change-amount of square footage, you don’t usually get a dining room. But I’m a hostess with the mostest. So I’m still holding onto my future dinner party plans, and thinking of inventive ways to wedge in a dining room table where it doesn’t easily fit.

From being selective with the chairs you pick, to finding ways to Tetris furniture together, there are ways to carve out a dining area. Ahead are some tricks to make space for a dining table in a small living room. It’s time to get creative.

Credit: Sandra Regalado

1. Use the decor to carve out the space.

If there is a will, there is a way. If your living room flows into the kitchen but has a small wall divider, use that partition to your advantage. Carve out a dining room space with accents: hang a chandelier over your table, add a mirror or painting right in front, and wedge in a petite bar cart into the corner. All of these details signal that this is a separate dining area, and not part of the living room.

2. Don’t be afraid to layer.

The general mentality with a small space is “less is more.” But that’s not always the case. If you need to sandwich in a dining table, don’t be afraid to layer your furniture. You need to utilize the space as much as possible, after all. This rectangular dining table sits near a bookcase packed with books and a shelf that serves as a handy place to hang hats. It’s cozy, and it looks just right.

Credit: Casey Zhang

3. Accent with art.

To make your dining area look like a separate space from the rest of the living room, try hanging a sideboard on the wall and accenting it with art. Hanging the sideboard takes up less space, and it also gives you a chance to add extra decor. You can also use the floating shelf to hold side dishes or wine bottles during dinner parties.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Block Windows

Do you have a sliding balcony door or a giant window? Don’t worry if your dining room set up blocks it a little—it won’t look awkward if done right. Here Heather used a low bench on the side that is blocking the balcony door, making it a minimal obstruction.

Credit: Margaret Tudor

5. Embrace the Sun Nook

If you have very limited space to fit in a dining table, go where the light is. Create a sun nook for your dining experience by setting up thin benches along the wall (to take up as little space as possible,) and a single chair on the outside.

6. Use Compact Chairs

Rather than picking out bulky seating that will expand the circumference of your table, choose seating that will tuck right in and take up minimal space. These rolling chairs are great because they tuck underneath the table, but also make a statement with their geometric design.

Credit: Viv Yapp

7. Pop It Next to the Stairs

Sometimes there is no natural place to stick your table, so you have to get creative. Thierry and Peter prove that placing a small table with stools next to the stairs is a creative spot to dine, but it also looks right.

8. Go with L-Shaped Benches

Ditch the chairs and go with L-shaped benches to cut back on bulk. This family lives in a tiny home and they make do with a small circular table when it comes to meals. Not only does it look airy and roomy, but no one looks cramped when they’re sitting in it!

9. Have Your Furniture Touch

When you have a small space, you have to allow yourself to get creative and break some design rules. The common thought is that if you have furniture touching, then you have too much in the room. But that’s not the case when there’s limited square footage involved. Here Devin and Chad have their shelving unit pressed right up against their dining table and couch—but the space still flows. It looks cozy and eclectic.

Credit: Jessica Isaac

10. Use Rugs to Make a Separate Dining Space

An easy way to say “this is the dining room” is to use a rug to designate the space. Have fun with the colors of the area rug to make your small room pop.