10 Stylish Small Dining Room Ideas You Can Easily Replicate

published Nov 5, 2023
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A breakfast nook surrounds a dining table with three chairs in a white kitchen with decorative wall dressings.

Every type of small-sized home or room comes with its own unique set of design challenges, but small dining rooms or eating areas can be particularly difficult to decorate — especially if you have a family or multiple roommates to accommodate. Ultimately, maximizing seating and tabletop space without dominating the entire area is key.

Whether your home has its own designated dining room or you’re simply carving out a kitchen or living room nook, get inspired by these 10 easily replicable, small-space-friendly styling ideas (think: dining set layouts, hacks that make the room appear bigger, and more). 

1. Bright & Cozy Nook

This small San Francisco rental (650 square feet, to be exact) combines a living room and dining room into one space, using a bright nook to set up a compact four-person table. The round shape complements the layout of the room, plus the rug helps separate this area from the nearby sofa.

2. Strategic Small-Space Seating

Take a cue from this 1920s home in Sydney, Australia, which relies on a neutral-hued banquette to maximize seating space in the dining nook. An IKEA table and chairs top off the cozy modern-meets-cottage look.

Credit: Lana Kenney

3. Compact Kitchen Setup

Although this renovated Cape Town cottage has an open kitchen/living room floor plan, space was still tight in the 1,076-square-foot home. The owners — a family of four — tapped into a blank wall spot behind the fridge to set up their long, narrow dining table. It seats five, all without constricting the cooking area and nearby bookcase.

4. Storage-Filled Breakfast Nook

This minimalist Copenhagen apartment does have its own separate dining room, but you can also get small-space styling inspiration from the minimalist kitchen nook. Find or DIY a sturdy, compact storage bench in an empty corner for double-duty seating, and pair it with a little rectangular table.

5. Functional and Colorful

Light meets bright in this maximalist Washington, DC dining room, which plays up furniture and decor proportions well. By utilizing somewhat of a small-scale round table with an oversized rug that covers the entirety of the space, this room appears larger than it is and leaves plenty of leftover square footage to incorporate additional pieces, like a console table and colorful glassware-filled bookshelf.

6. Double-Duty Dining Room

It’s technically a workspace from a pro organizer’s Los Angeles apartment pictured here, but the room proves a dining table can stylishly coexist with home office furniture, if those spaces happen to be one and the same. An L-shaped desk nestled into the corner helps free up the middle of the room for a sizable eating area.

7. Asymmetric Seating

Every square foot counts in this one-bedroom New York City apartment, which houses a family of four. That includes the dining area, complete with a modern leather loveseat and two narrow chairs. Don’t be afraid to mix and match seating styles — especially when it comes to adding a banquette on the wall-adjacent side.

Credit: Carina Romano

8. Cohesive Tones

One surefire way to avoid overwhelming a small dining room? A refined, complementary palette. The light wood dining set in this rustic Philadelphia rental, for example, pairs well with the warm tones of the exposed brick and ceiling beams. Minimalist white accents throughout also lend a fresh, airy contrast.

9. Corner-Friendly Furniture

If you still want to add storage or a bar cart to your small dining room, replicate entrepreneur Jaclyn Johnson’s Los Angeles home and find a corner-shaped piece of furniture. Johnson’s short, triangular cabinet fits neatly in the space and juxtaposes the curved motifs seen in the table, chairs, placemats, and rug.

10. Mirror Backdrop

An oversized floor mirror instantly adds depth and dimension to a small dining room, as seen in this eclectic Buenos Aires apartment. By finding a mirror that takes up significant wall space, it’s a simple one-and-done accent that eliminates the need to fill out the spot with art or other decor. Plus, think of it as an extension of your interior style — go for a sleek frameless look if you prefer modern design, or an ornate gilded piece for a more traditional look.