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Tips and Ideas for a Dining Room Layout

As a gathering space for family and friends, it's important that your dining room not only reflects your style, but is also a comfortable setting for yourself and others to enjoy. When designing a layout, first consider room size. The size of the room will determine the size of your furniture and its placement. Keep reading for tips on creating a dining room that fits and functions comfortably in your space.

Key Measurements

  • Keep at least 36 inches between the wall (or the edge of another piece of furniture) and the table to allow diners to push out their chairs and comfortably get up from the table. However, 42 to 48 inches is better and gives the dining room a more spacious feel. With this in mind, measure your space before purchasing a dining table and choose one that will fit comfortably in your space.
  • Each guest should have 24 to 30 inches of table surface space to dine comfortably. Seating more guests at the table than is recommended will create a cramped dining environment. However, don't buy a larger table to seat more people than the size of your dining room will allow. To get more information on the ideal dining table size for your space and needs, read How to Choose a Dining Table Size.
For a typical dinner party or family gathering, you will need to seat between eight and 12 people at a table. If your party is larger, don't squeeze people around one table. Instead, opt for a couple of smaller tables. Tables with leaves expand to seat more people.

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Large Dining Rooms

With larger spaces, there's a more flexible range of furniture sizes, styles, and accessories to choose from. Follow these tips when deciding on the best layout for your space. 

  • Before purchasing a table or chairs, decide on a style (modern, contemporary, or traditional) that best fits the rest of your décor. This will help you narrow down your furniture selection from the get-go.  

  • When arranging your furniture, center the dining table in the middle of the room (or under a lighting element if you have a combined living and dining room). Then you will know where to place other furniture, including chairs, lighting, and sideboards. Popular table shapes for larger spaces are round, rectangular, or oval. 

  • Use the rest of your available space for decorative accessories and other pieces of furniture that have storage space. A popular piece of dining furniture, in rooms that can fit one, is a buffet hutch. The large structure includes extra cabinetry to store dining essentials, such as cloth napkins, formal china, and extra silverware. Place it against any available wall, but make sure there is 36 inches space between the hutch and the nearest chair or table edge.

Avoid circular tables when seating more than six people. A table large enough to accommodate that many diners makes it difficult to converse with guests at the other side of the table. 

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Small Dining Rooms

Decorating a small dining space may be a challenge, but there are ways to make your room feel more open and spacious. Start by following these tips to make the most out of your space.

  • Look for a dining table that has a removable leaf. Leaving it out most of the time will give an airy feel for everyday living, but it can easily be added for larger gatherings. Likewise, consider storing or distributing extra dining chairs throughout the house. A table set with just two or four chairs instantly feels less crowded.
  • As an alternative to a china cabinet or buffet hutch, display your decorative china or accents on your walls with a plate rack. You'll not only clear up floor space, but you'll add more visual interest to your room.
  • ​The best seating option for small spaces are armless dining chairs. They will make the space seem less congested and create extra wiggle room for additional seating. 

Round pedestal tables are the best option for smaller dining spaces because they make the perimeter of the room appear larger. Also, dining guests have more room to adjust and won't bump elbows.

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Eat-In Kitchens

Eat-in kitchens, also considered breakfast nooks, are designed off or near the kitchen. The space is typically surrounded by three walls. Because of the enclosure, seating and furniture selection is limited. These tips will keep the space more spacious.

  • Some breakfast nooks need the extra leg room to fit up to four or six diners, so a pedestal table is ideal in a breakfast nook. Popular shapes include round, oval, or square. 
  • Fill one, two, or three sides of your breakfast nook with a stand-alone bench or wrap-around banquette. Depending on the style you choose, these seating options give a built-in look and offer extra storage space, while maximizing floor space for a better flow. 
  • If there are windows near the dining space, add a bench below the windowsill with a table and chairs across from it. This will create a space that's not only an eating area, but also a place where kids can hang out or do their homework.

Breakfast nooks are typically built near windows to create a warmer and cozier feel. If there aren't any windows, hanging large wall mirrors will make the space feel more open and airy.

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Optional Dining Accents

  1. Chairs: Dining chairs can be placed in the corner of the dining room as a decorative, functional accent. When extra seating is necessary, they're immediately accessible for you to pull over and add to the table. This is an ideal opportunity to select a fun, bolder style that complements what you already have. 
  2. Buffets: A buffet is an accent piece that's not only decorative, but also displays food before being served to family and keeps your dining table from becoming overcrowded with serving dishes. Additionally, it stores everything from serveware and table linens to flatware. 
  3. Ceiling Lights: Ceiling lights (usually a chandelier or pendant) should be placed directly above the dining table. Place the hanging light in the center of the table for a well-balanced, symmetrical space.  
    Dining Chairs
    Dining Tables
    Sideboards & Buffets
    Candle Holders

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