Small Dining Room meets High Style

I’m a big proponent of smaller homes with beautiful decor. Large homes can be beautiful of course, but they are expensive to furnish, heat/cool and maintain. I’m also a big fan and hold out for the formal dining room and I see no reason why a small dining room can’t be a spectacular space.  Call me old-fashioned, but I hate the open kitchen as entertaining space concept that has taken over. It’s fine for a causal party like a bbq or Super Bowl party. But what happened to the days of inviting other adults to our homes and putting on a show for them with everyone coming dressed appropriately and enjoying conversation over candle light and good wine? These don’t have to be stuffy events, they don’t need place cards or be “couple” events where men and women alternate in the seating. It can be all women or men, or just a gathering of friends, or all couples – whatever works for you. But I do lament the loss of this special type of entertaining in our lives.

And, as I said, a small dining room is totally fine and can be beautiful, functional and inviting. Here are a few I’ve pulled together.

Blue and green small dining room
Source unknown

From the famous “source unknown”, I am just swooning over this small dining room above. From the look of it, it’s a tear sheet (note the three-hole punched margin) maybe from a magazine or catalogue. It’s probably from the ’80’s or ’90’s by the look of the chair upholstery and shiny brass light fixture. But overall, it’s a timeless design which uses the large mirror and glass top table to add sparkle and lightness to the space. It looks like it’s not a dedicated room, but possibly in a pass thru space with doors on each side. Hard to tell, but I think a small diner party would be a beautiful thing here!

Formal apartment small dining room wall paper
Gerald Pomeroy Design Group

Also from “Source unknown” (As an aside, I really do always try to find the designer of these rooms. If you know, please let me know!) Thanks to my eagle eye designer colleague Meredith Bohn for remembering that this space was by Gerald Pomeroy – one of my favorite New England designers and was part of a Show House done at the Boston Design Center back in 2008. I even wrote a post about it (which clearly I’d forgotten about!).   This isn’t a truly tiny space, but it’s not large. The ceiling height gives it a nice volume as does the silvered floral wallpaper (DeGournay maybe?). I also like the pale blue painted ceiling. The table is relatively narrow and the side chairs are as well.

Jillian Harris Love it or List It gray pink Small dining room
Design via Jillian Harris of Love it or List It

This above is from Jillian Harris of Love It or List It. While the dinky little “art” on the right wall is silly and unfinished looking, the paneled back wall and light fixture really make the space. The chairs are smallish and the table is large, which may be a drop leaf (the right side is droopy).

Liz Levin Interiors photo Angie Seckinger small dining room
Liz Levin Interiors | photo by Angie Seckinger

This Liz Levin Interiors space above benefits from the mirrored wall; a time honored way of bringing light and volume into a space. The graphic window treatments draw the eye up and I like the mix of the formal style take with more modern chairs.

Phoebe Howard Small dining room 2
Phoebe Howard design
Phoebe Howard Small dining room 1
Phoebe Howard design

And the amazing Phoebe Howard puts her mark on another small dining room space in Atlanta. This dining space is tucked into a corner, but is given prominence by the large oil painting which pulls you right in.

 

Linda Merrill design green and pink Duxbury small dining room
Linda Merrill design | Michael J. Lee photography

And finally, my own small dining room is actually in the same room as the front entry of my home. My cottage is pretty much an open floor plan and I wanted my dining area to be as far away from the kitchen as possible (though you can still see it). I can add a leaf to the table and have hosted up to 8 in this space.

So, what are your thoughts about formal dining rooms? Are you willing to carve one out of even a small space in your home?

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

8 thoughts on “Small Dining Room meets High Style

  1. “Smaller homes with beautiful decor”; I so agree and think I notice a trend in that direction. My favorites of your illustrations are the first – “timeless design”, indeed, and the last – your welcoming and pretty dining area.

  2. Hi Linda, I love those kinds of dinner gatherings also, and love a special dining area to have them! I am fairly certain the second photo is Gerald Pomeroy’s dining “room” done in a special event at the Design Center quite a few years ago, now. I can’t remember what BDC called it but several designers were invited to do rooms ( like a showcase) and they were installed on the 5th floor for a few weeks. I remember the silver floral paper very clearly from Gerald’s room. I seem to remember that Mark Bombara did a kitchen space, and Sheryl Katz did a room also in the same showcase.

  3. I totally agree about separate dining spaces…and even separate gathering spaces. ‘Open plan’ just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe the trend will wear itself out. The key seems to be the flow or the traffic pattern. Even in our very small cottage, everything is accessible but not melded into one space. Our three children have huge homes built on the modern open plan, but I’m not a bit envious!

    • Hi Frieda – thank you so much for your comment. I was at a luxury design event yesterday and one thing talked about was that younger people are cooking and entertaining more, which I would think will bring back a return of some kind of dedicated dining space. I think once you spend time cooking a nice meal to share with friends, you also want to be able to sit back and enjoy it and not just serve it buffet style on the center island. At least I hope this is true!

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