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How to Create a Beautiful Dining Space in Your Small Apartment

The average US apartment is getting smaller. In 2022, it stood under 900 square feet—which CBS News shares is 50 square feet less than the previous decade. And with Marketplace reporting that more Americans prefer the renting lifestyle, living in a smaller space is a fact of life for many. However, that doesn't make it any less inconvenient. Small apartments typically mesh the functions of all rooms into a single open space just to fit everything in. At first glance, it thus looks like you'll have to sacrifice creature comforts like having an actual dining area to eat your meals in and settle for enjoying your food in front of the TV.

Fortunately, you can maintain style, comfort, and functionality when living in a tinier abode. With just a little ingenuity, you can create a beautiful dining space and ensure you've got dedicated areas for everything you need to do in your new home. Here's how you can pull it off. 

Use multifunctional pieces

Credit: @weilai_concept on Instagram
Credit: @weilai_concept on Instagram

If you want to maximize your space, you'll need multifunctional furniture. For example, sofa beds are a great alternative to guest rooms. The same logic applies to the dining space, especially if you need it to double as a workstation, kitchen island, or dinner party venue. The best way to do that is by perusing furniture sets. These already come with everything you need—in different styles to suit your preferences—but don't require you to measure every piece of furniture just to see if they'll fit in your space.

More importantly, they come with additional features that make them exceptionally practical. The dining sets on Living Spaces, which come with both bench and chair options, exemplify this trend. Models like the Mariko are extendable, and you can stretch them out if you need more space to work or want to host more people for dinner. Others, like the Joni, boast additional storage where you can place tableware if your apartment doesn't have built-in cabinets. Choosing pieces that pull double duty allows you to easily make room for a dining space, even in a small apartment. 

Merge your dining space with other areas

Credit: @kerikuzmainteriors on Instagram
Credit: @kerikuzmainteriors on Instagram

Use existing apartment fixtures and pieces to merge your dining space with other areas while keeping everything separate. If you've been lucky enough to nab an apartment with a kitchen island, consider placing your dining pieces against it. Otherwise, you can make do with your sofa. Place it between your dining table and TV to create a natural boundary between your living and dining areas. You can also consider placing your dining space in a window nook.

The nook's corners can be the perfect way to separate it from the rest of the apartment. Giving you a spot to put your dining furniture out of the way can also make navigating between this space and your living and dining areas easier, which can come in handy, especially for small apartments. In this case, select a round table that will hug its angles without wasting space. Have you got a little extra cash on hand? Consider installing a banquette against the walls of the nook. As evidenced by the banquettes featured in the New York Times, this stylish, comfortable, sofa-like seating option will maximize the area and even offer extra under-the-seat storage for additional functionality. 

Define the space with decor

Credit: on Instagram
Credit: on Instagram

Don't have nooks or fixtures? No problem. If you want to place your dining furniture in some free space between your living and dining areas, distinguish it from the other "zones" in your small apartment by adding some key decor pieces. For example, you can install a light fixture above the dining table. Pendant lights or chandeliers can be handy for spotlighting it in contrast to the other furniture in your home.

If used alongside bulbs that give off a warm glow, they'll add an intimate and elegant feel that can enhance the overall aesthetic of your dining space. Another way to create that illusion of separation is to put a rug under your table and chairs. The best rug for your dining space should ideally look like the Labyrinth from Jonathan Adler or the Magnolia from Heart & Hand. These have a shorter weave, are made of materials like cotton and nylon, and are darker in color. That means they won't show stains so quickly or accumulate food particles while being easy to clean and maintain. Using lighting fixtures and rugs as anchors, you'll create a cohesive yet appealing dining space that stands out even if you live in a tinier abode.

Living in a small apartment can be challenging, but that doesn't have to mean you have to make do with an unattractive and dysfunctional space. Try these tips to create a beautiful dining area you can be proud of. Want more pieces like this? Keep reading here on the Ash Said It blog.


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