How to arrange furniture in a small dining room — 8 expert tips

Professional hacks for how to arrange furniture in a small dining room to make limited floor space work beautifully for you

Neutral dining room with wooden table, white flower centerpiece, and black cabinet
(Image credit: @thistle.harvest)

Small homes brings big joy, but figuring out how to arrange furniture in a small dining room can still be a headache. 

A well-planned arrangement is even more essential in a little dining room, and our experts have shared eight tips so you have space to sit down, move around, and host guests without compromising on functionality, or style.

We’ve rounded up brilliant insight from the pros on how to arrange furniture in a small dining room, revealing the interior design secrets to maximize your layout and keep your aesthetic. 

How to arrange furniture in a small dining room

Owning or renting a home with a dining room is great, the bonus being you can avoid the conundrum of how to fit a dining table into a small living room

Here, avoid placement of furniture that feels cramped or cluttered with some careful planning and enjoy the airy feel you'll create. Our eight expert-endorsed tips for how to arrange furniture in a small dining room unlock the secrets to fixing a space that isn't currently working for your needs.

1. Avoid doorways and walkways

A dining room with a wooden dining set and a pink rug

(Image credit: Ruggable)

Each small dining room has its own weaknesses, but there is one rule that applies to them all when talking furniture placement.

“Establish enough space to move around comfortably when arranging furniture,” advises interior designer Artem Kropovinsky. “Do not place any large items near doorways or walkways to maintain an open ambience.”

Make scaled-down templates of your small dining room and furniture using old newspaper or magazines (ideal for saving on new-paper wastage), and see if things will fit without impeding movement. Leave enough space for you, or your guests to push or pull their chairs out, which is around 30 inches between chair and wall or another furniture item.  

This will save-the back-breaking work of moving your real life-sized furniture around, only to find everything is now in a bit of a squeeze.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

2. Pick a table that makes furniture arrangement easy

round wooden table with matching wood chairs on textured neutral rug in a small dining room/kitchen with an open brick front fireplace

(Image credit: M&S)

Buying the right small-space furniture for a dining room will make arranging it far easier. In this room, it’s the dining table that’s going to be the largest item you need to accommodate. 

“When choosing yours, opt for a round extendable table, allowing you to save space while still being able to seat more guests when needed,” suggests interior decorator Vivianne Chow.

Extendable is the key attribute recommended by Artem Kropovinsky, too. “Decide on dining tables that can be stretched out,” he says. “They are ideal for small spaces as they can be lengthened or shortened to add or reduce accommodation.” Adjusting the table means you can fit just you, or the two of you, and make the room feel bigger, but welcoming additional diners remains do-able."

Don’t rule out drop-leaf dining tables either. They're super slim or largely pack away when not in use and Real Homes is a huge fan of this clever multi-functional bit of kit.

Vivianne Chow and her husband Tim on the couch
Vivianne Chow

Vivianne Chow is an interior decorator and founder of the home decor blog, She’s passionate about sharing the best modern home decor to buy and recently built a dream custom home with her husband Tim. Together they're tackling decorating room by room and sharing design tips and ideas along the way.

3. Choose movable chairs

Wooden dining table dressed with tableware for breakfast with one folding wood chair and two black dining chairs in a room with neutral flooring and glass door

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

The dining chairs you select for a small room also have the potential to make furniture placement a whole lot simpler. If you’ve opted for an extendable table as experts recommend, above, then some of the time they’re not all going to be in demand.

“Select chairs that are easy to hide,” advises Artem Kropovinsky. “These may be folded into a very small space when not in use, which will help you keep the dining area tidy.”

Foldaway designs like the Dan Full Back Folding Side Chair from Wayfair are a boon as they’ll stack neatly without intruding on your decor.

4. Focus on furniture color and materials

Target dining room with small white table, gold chairs, and a boho rug, white brick walls and artwork, and gold pendant light over table

(Image credit: Target)

Arranging furniture in a small dining room so it doesn’t look crowded is simpler with careful curation of its color and materials. 

A light wood finish is a great idea to add a natural touch to the decor and make the room’s ambience more welcoming. Alternatively, brighten up with white. As for chairs, go with designs that won’t impede views through the room or light, like those with latticed backs or made from transparent acrylics such as the ANOUR Dining Chairs Set at Amazon.

5. Expand space with a mirror

Dining room with wall art, geometric round rug under marble oval table, and vintage-lool gold mirror mounted on the far wall above a bench

(Image credit: @highboyla)

There’s a great way to complement clever furniture arrangement that makes a small dining room function perfectly and look good, and that’s by hanging a mirror. Just as experts say a mirror is the one thing you need in a small entryway, they love using these to spectacular effect for the dining room as well.

“Hanging a large mirror on one wall of your dining room creates the illusion of more space and reflects more natural light,” says Vivianne. And, as all small space dwellers know, more daylight means larger-looking rooms that enhance mood, too.

Our favorite Urban Outfitter mirrors include the perfect choices for small dining rooms so that’s style covered. But think about what’s in the reflection as well. If you have a great view outside, reflect this. If it's not so good, hang the mirror to reflect artwork, maybe, or a doorway, this will create the illusion of an extra room beyond the dining room. 

6. Add an ottoman or bench

Small light wood dining table and two matching benches with pendant light over and wood floor with neutral rug in front of window with floor length yellow curtains

(Image credit: John Lewis)

A dual-purpose piece of furniture can be worth incorporating into the arrangement in a small dining room. “Using an ottoman or bench with built-in storage creates a clever solution to help keep clutter at bay while providing seating,” says Vivianne Chow.

As well as allowing space to stash away the room’s essentials while ensuring they’re conveniently nearby, this type of seating could be a brilliant space-saver, depending on the shape of the room. It can be set against a wall, so you don’t have to allow room behind it, then the dining table positioned in front with chairs required only on the opposite side.

Of course, if you don’t need the extra storage in the room, a bench is still a sleek choice that saves space and tucks away when not in use, maximizing how to arrange furniture in a small dining room.

7. Layer in a rug

Neutral dining room with wooden table and neutral rugs

(Image credit: @thistle.harvest)

Consider positioning the dining room table on a rug. This makes the table the star of the room and adds texture  — perfect for incorporating intrigue, no matter the small space color trend you've gone with.

Spills and crumbs are inevitable so make your life easier by picking an easy-clean material for dining room rugs. Wool resists stains and is durable, while manufactured fibers can be great at surviving accidents and standing up to regular vacuuming. 

Size the rug to fit the table (at its maximum size if you’ve chosen an extendable table), and allow at least 18 inches worth of rug extending from the back of the chair legs so they can be pushed back without catching. Similarly, keep the rug pile low for easy movement. 

Ruggable's machine washable picks are perfect for dining spaces. We love the jewel-toned Morris and Co.Blackthorn Forest Green rug, a real trend color this year.

If deep colors aren't for you, try light tones such as the Nourison Essentials Indoor/Outdoor Ivory Beige Area Rug from Amazon. Designs like this made for the outside as well as the interior of a home are durable and simple to maintain.

8. Boost light

Dining room with table, seating bench, and two windows with shades

(Image credit: @domandecors)

In tandem with using mirrors, opting for window styling that doesn't darken the room will go a long way to making your furniture arrangements pop. 

“Choose window treatments that admit light and air,” says Artem. “Floating shades or blinds could be better than heavy drapes since they occupy less space and still allow natural light inside.”


How do you seat a lot of people in a small dining room?

Bench seating is a winner if you need to squeeze a whole lot of people into a small dining room. Everyone can huddle up to fit extras round the table. You might want to choose cushioned designs that won’t have diners rushing to stand up. “You’ll want to avoid bulky furniture that takes up unnecessary space and choose slim furniture pieces with clean modern lines instead,” says interior decorator Vivianne Chow. Skip dining chairs with arms as well.

Can you put a dining table against a wall?

A dining table positioned against the wall can be a space-saver, but it’s only worth considering if the arrangement leaves enough room around the remaining edges (or edge if the table is circular) for the number you want to seat. Since typically at least one diner is going to face the wall, depending on the table’s shape, add wall art to give them a pleasing view.

Clever furniture arrangement in a small dining room can make it a cozy space for one or two, but also a great room to share. With furniture placement planned before you crack on with the task, you can draw on expert strategies to make it seem bigger by letting in the daylight. Don’t forget after-dark dining room lighting ideas for added ambiance.

To make the most of a beautifully arranged space, indulge in the dining room wall ideas that’ll make it individual with color, texture, and art, or give dopamine decor dining trends a whirl to brighten up tablescapes.

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.