Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Family Dinners: Ideas for a Small Dining Room

By Jennifer Adams

An important time for families to gather and share their days is during mealtimes. Studies show eating dinner together as a family provides some valuable opportunities for closeness between parents and children, and for conversation. While each family is different, most people enjoy a place in their homes where everyone can sit at one table, all at the same time.

So what happens if your house is tiny? There are still plenty of options, even if you don’t have a formal dining room! You don’t need a big table. If you can be flexible in eating arrangements, you can all at least sit together and enjoy your meal. Better Homes and Gardens’ website recently published a beautifully photographed and helpful article, “Small-Space Dining Rooms.” Click to see some of their amazing ideas (including this charming photo).

Benches and built-in seating are compact alternatives in nook spaces. Carve out an eating nook in your kitchen or adjacent space, even if it is outdoors or a patio. Benches make great extra seating, and can also provide storage.

Round tables save space. Depending on how many people are in your family, a small round table (only 36 inches in diameter) will fit a family of four for dinner. If the kids are older than 8 or 9, a bistro-style table could work great behind a sofa in your great room. The tall stools also provide a good perch for watching TV. Smaller kids might have a hard time climbing up onto the stools, so this setup works best for older kids and adults.

Remember TV trays? Now we call them tray tables. They’re prettier than the old fashioned metal ones, and come in sets of four at Target, and other retailers, like the set shown at right. They’re portable, durable, inexpensive and hugely useful. Serve dinner buffet style in the kitchen, and everyone can carry their plates to a comfy spot in the living room and enjoy their dinner.

Outdoor furniture often folds or stacks and is very inexpensive. Pottery Barn has a wonderful collection of useful pieces that look great indoors or out. See photo below, this is the Pottery Barn Chatham table and chairs. You can save space when they're not in use, and they're great to have on hand if you occasionally need extra seating for parties or family gatherings. Outdoor furniture is designed for durability, so chances are pretty good it will hold up to whatever your family can dish out!

Kitchen counters and islands can be designed for mealtimes. For comfortable dining, and if you’re starting from scratch, allow approximately 18 inches of overhang from the edge of the counter surface to the face of the cabinetry below. You can have less overhang if you won’t be dining often at the island or counter, or if it is standing height. But if you don’t have room for a proper dining table, it makes a lot of sense to get your kitchen island to earn its keep.

Also, a dining table makes a great kitchen island. For a beautiful rustic feel to your eat-in kitchen, a big, beefy wood or stone table that doubles as kitchen prep space is a wonderful idea. You’ll need to give up on much storage or appliances in the “island", but since people always gather in the kitchen anyway, why not give them a comfortable and attractive place to hang out?

Send in your pics of your small dining area solutions! I'd love to see how you handled it! 

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:00 AM 

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