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Small dining spaces are perfect for intimate gatherings and can provide plenty of cozy atmosphere. But let’s be honest—it can be challenging to decorate them in a way that keeps the cozy without morphing into claustrophobic. What’s enough? What’s too much?

Today we’re sharing 8 tips to help you find the perfect balance in small dining spaces.

1. Choose the Right Table for the Room

The right table will depend on just how small your small dining room truly is. If you have the space, an oval table allows you to fit more guests when necessary. No room for an oval table? Consider a round table on a smaller scale. You’ll still be able to seat extra guests at the table thanks to the lack of corners. Consider using a pedestal table—the single centered leg is much easier to navigate around in a small space when compared to its’ four-legged competitors…no need to draw straws to see which guests get the leg-straddling seats.

2. Select Smart Seating

Seating can make the difference between a dining room with great flow and one that appears clunky and crowded. When it comes to selecting the best seats for your small space, simple and streamlined is the way to go. Chairs with slim legs look lovely in a cozy dining area. Consider Windsor or caned chairs as they let in plenty of light and create the illusion of more room. You can add one or two upholstered chairs into the mix for a bit of visual interest.

Acrylic chairs are nearly invisible and offer a modern aesthetic in addition to making a small room feel more expansive.

While some designers frown at the idea of pushing your table up against a wall, adding bench seating along a wall in a narrow dining room allows you to seat more people and navigate the space more easily. Similarly, banquet seating lining the walls of a small dining nook creates an intimate atmosphere and, if you build drawers into the bench bases, can provide coveted storage in the space.

3. Balance Bold Patterns with Simple Window Treatments

Just because a space is small doesn’t mean it must be boring. Boldly patterned wallpaper and a complimentary rug can play well with streamlined furniture and entice guests to come in and sit a while.

Balance out the visual interest in the room by keeping window treatments to minimum—a simple woven blind or roman shade can provide a bit of calm in a room full of color and pattern.

4. Make use of Mirrors

If your dining room is lacking exterior windows, use an old design trick to brighten up the space. Mirrors trick the eye into thinking a space is larger and allow light to bounce through the room, making it feel lighter, brighter, and more inviting.

5. Add Wainscoting to Walls

Though some may think wainscoting is a design element for days gone by, this traditional wall treatment is seeing a resurgence in popularity as of late. Adding wainscoting to a small dining room can offer visual interest…especially when it is painted a non-traditional color. For some real drama, consider floor-to-ceiling wainscoting in a vibrant color to create a focal wall.

6. Go Light and Bright with Pops of Color

We’ve mentioned big, bold patterns in small spaces, but we also understand that some of you just can’t….and that’s okay.

Incorporating streamlined furniture with a dining room that is painted a lighter hue can feel downright expansive—but, again, the key is balance. Add visual interest to the room with an eye-catching light fixture, or consider a boldly patterned rug, window treatments or artwork to up the wow factor.

7. Add Shelving Instead of Furniture for Storage

While unconventional, foregoing the traditional buffet or china cabinet in favor of strategically placed shelving opens a small dining room and makes it feel more navigable.

Shelving provides another opportunity to add visual interest to a small room by displaying art, family photos, unique or antique serving pieces…or a mixture of the three.

8. Choose the Right Lighting for Your Space

Lighting can make or break a space—just ask any restaurant owner. It’s important to light your dining room in a way that works for intimate gatherings or family dinners.

When it comes to lighting, there is no one-light-fits-all fixture—the right choice for you will depend largely upon the size of your room. Pendant lights are a wonderful option and can provide plenty of drama without overcrowding a room.

If your space just won’t allow for a pendant, consider using wall sconces on either side of a mirror or piece of art. You’ll get just as much drama and visual interest while taking up less real estate in the room. Even dimmable recessed lighting in the ceiling or under those floating shelves you installed can create an intimate and inviting mood.

And there you have it, eight tips to boost the look of your small dining room. Remember, there’s no such thing as a space that is too small. The key is to find the proper balance in the proportions of your furniture while playing with color and texture.

Here’s to creating a small dining room that rocks!

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