Whilst a TV dinner can be a nice treat from time to time, it’s not practical (or very stylish!) to be balancing plates on your knees on a longterm basis. Space, or lack of it, is the main reason why a dining table might, literally, be pushed to the sidelines within your home but we’ll talk you through how it can be part of the main event and, in turn, up the ante in your dining room decor.
The Problem With Small Dining Rooms
The main reason that a dining table has never been your main focus might be because you don’t have a designated room to dine in. As the trend for open plan living shows no signs of going away and the luxury of a separate dining room becomes a distant memory (resigned to moonlighting as a office/kids’ playroom/home gym), other areas of your home might have to work harder to accommodate a small dining table. But you’ll find these hiding in plain sight, we promise.
A bay window provides the perfect space for a dining table and is often overlooked as a dining space. It can really set off a small space and create real impact; who doesn’t love a bit of pomp and ceremony at the dinner table? The same goes for an alcove – you might have one to the side of a chimney breast in your living room – and this could be just the nook you need. Even a table for two could provide the dining area your home is craving.
Some house layouts have a disused space under the stairs. A dining table works well here as you don’t need full height standing room. As long as you can slide yourself in (and out without clunking you head!), you’ll find this space, so often relegated to life as a makeshift cloakroom/dumping ground, works well for cosy dinners. The other area so obviously conducive to dining is the kitchen. A tiny corner could house a bistro table for two – folding chairs could even be hung on the back of a kitchen door when not in use. The floor space below a kitchen window is an often available and much maligned ‘free’ space. Possibly unsuitable for kitchen cabinets and often dominated by an under-window radiator, a dining table won’t obstruct the heat distribution too radically, even when it’s slammed up against the wall to free up the floor between uses.
Table Designs For Small Dining Rooms
The beauty of finding a dining table to fit your space is that they come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Some also come in dining sets so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Round dining tables are probably the easiest shape to work with in a small space. They work especially well in awkward areas where chairs can be arranged around them to utilise angular corners. Most round tables are based on a pedestal construction, i.e. the table will have a single, centrally placed, table leg. This is great for freeing up floor space. There is also no chance of banging yourself on the table leg, or being the unlucky guest who is left having the straddle the table leg at a dinner party! A major positive is that they are particularly unrestrictive on the number of people that you can seat – there’ll always be room for a small one!
A rectangular dining table is probably the most popular choice – working, as it does, in a multitude of room set-ups and scenarios. If you are lucky enough to have a separate dining room, they will make the most of a rectangular shaped room, even if it’s quite narrow. Our tip is to measure the available floor space. Allow around 75cm around each side of the table for a chair and enough space for you to manoeuvre yourself into position. Armed with these measurements you’ll know exactly the size table you’re looking for. There are, of course, exceptions – if you’re pushing your table to one side during periods of non-use, just ensure there’s an area of space within pushing/pulling distance to accommodate the table and its chairs (felt feet would be a handy addition to each table foot if you have wooden floors). Rectangular tables work really well in eat-in, galley-style kitchens. They are particularly sociable – not too wide, so you can indulge in conversation with those seated opposite. They also have the benefit of someone being able to sit at the ‘head’ of the table – a highlight that appeals to those with illusion of grandeur!
Think about glass topped dining tables as an option to consider. Being see-through, they are canny illusionists in creating the feeling of space when, in reality, it’s in limited supply.
The leg design can work to your advantage. Be canny in your choice and you can free up floorspace to trick the eye into creating ‘space’. Picking something without obstructive legs can allow you to seat more bums at the table without it feeling overcrowded. Look to corner-legged tables or trestle-legged designs which work particularly well with bench seating.
Space Saving Dining Tables
If you have more friends than space to seat them then you’re going to need some ingenious space saving dining table solutions to adapt your table to fit your event.
An extendable table might be exactly what you need in your home. Contrary to your memories of granny’s extendable dining table, they are no more cumbersome than an ordinary dining room table and as stable when extended as they are when retracted. Space-saving when not in full use, the mechanisms have come a long way as well and they easily glide into position with limited manual labour involved.
Folding tables allow for several set-ups depending on the number of guests you’re entertaining. They are also the masters of disguise and you can adapt their use within your home. A folded dining table placed against a wall can work as a console table or a desk.
Still think you don’t have space for a dining table? Well, if an intimate table for two is all you have room for, do not feel hard done by. They can create just as much focus within your home. Especially clever are designs that fold up completely – the ultimate space-savers that literally disappear. We’ve been known to store a table for two, complete with folding chairs, down the back of a sofa, under the bed or hung on hooks in the cupboard under the stairs!
See, we told you, there’s always room for a dining table!
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