2020 was arguably the year of the dining room. With WFH and homeschooling, many of our dining rooms became do-it-all spaces—aka. the at-home restaurant, office, classroom, family HQ. But for many of us with small dining rooms, packing in all that function was extra challenging.

So with WFH and everything looking like it’s here to stay for a while in 2021, we’re turning our focus to small dining rooms and how to make the most of them—which is the perfect follow-up to our small living room design tips.

Here, we’ve rounded up our best small dining room ideas with easy ways to make it work for your home. Find out more below!

Want more inspo and guidance? Check out our gallery for more dining room design ideas, then get started with the right pieces for your space with our dining room checklist!

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1. Utilize Corners

Every square-foot matters when you’re working with a small dining room. Try finding ways to maximize corner areas, such as adding a round table with bench seating lining flush against the walls. This works especially great for eat-in kitchen spaces and small opening dining areas.

Small dining room ideas to try: Turn a corner into your dedicated dining and breakfast nook. Add a small round dining table in a corner paired with light, moveable chairs. Push benches against walls to act like built-in banquettes.

See more ways to transform corner areas into compact dining spaces with our tips for how to style a breakfast nook.

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2. Work Up Your Walls

With any small dining room, vertical space is prime real estate for storage and display, so make the most of them! From showing off decor, like art and mirrors, to adding floating shelves and cabinets that hold your barware and dinnerware, pack your walls with function and style.

Small dining room ideas to try: Install a floating cabinet to hold dinner essentials while keeping storage off the floor to allow for walking space. Add a gallery wall with floating shelves for both style and function. Hang art and wall decor high up to give the illusion of taller ceilings and more space.

Get more storage tricks and ideas with our small space hacks and guide to dining room storage.

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3. Go Backless & Small-Scale

Bulky furniture often feels heavy in small dining rooms. Try bringing in slender, backless furnishings, which will provide an open look and feel to a tiny space. Smaller-scale pieces with lightweight silhouettes will also help make a small dining area feel larger and more spacious.

Small dining room ideas to try: Keep to furniture with open bases and no back to play up an airy look and feel. Opt for stools and benches with slender legs that have a visually minimalist look. Choose a smaller-scale dining table that’s slim and moveable to bring in a lighter, airy vibe.

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4. Emphasize Openness

Small dining rooms that also need to function for the everyday need to feel approachable and accessible. Too many patterns or loud colors can make a small space seem even smaller, so lean minimal with colors and patterns. Make it a point to streamline your materials and palette.

Small dining room ideas to try: Stick to a color scheme that’s simple and cohesive, such as neutrals and natural tones, which will create better visual flow in your small dining space. Woven textures, such as caning and natural fibers are great for adding an open feel. Skip upholstery patterns and colors and play up your art instead—a few pieces can go a long way!

Pick up more ideas for opening up a small space with the right small apartment furniture.

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5. Maximize Lighting

In small spaces, good lighting is essential because it helps open up the room. If you have windows, arrange your small dining area near it to maximize natural light. Then be sure to layer in good overhead lighting so that your space is well-lit at night.

Small dining room ideas to try: Hang sheers instead of heavy curtains for your dining area windows to allow for the most natural light streaming in. Add a substantial overhead light, like a chandelier or a multi-globe pendant for ample lighting. Shiny, light-reflecting surfaces will help bounce light in a small, low-light space as well.

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6. Think Round Table

A good furniture rule of thumb when it comes to small dining rooms? Pick a round or oval table over a square or rectangular one. They create more walk-around space and better flow in a small room. They can also comfortably accommodate more people in a small or narrow room.

Small dining room ideas to try: Try a round bistro table that fits four or six to start; you can easily move it from the center of the room to one end to fit the flow in your space as needed. Pair your round table with curvy, armless chairs to further optimize space. Don’t rule out oval tables with leaves that you can add on to extend it to entertain upwards of 10 or more guests!

For help finding the right table for your dining space, consider our guide to dining table sizes and shapes along with our tips for how to choose a dining table.

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