How to make a small dining room look bigger — 7 clever tricks design pros always use

Learn how to make a small dining room look bigger with our expert-approved tips

Finding out how to make a small dining room look bigger is always useful. Here is a dining room with peach and white wallpaper, a window with long gray curtains, a wooden dining table with navy blue dinnerware and chairs
(Image credit: Future)

Learning how to make a small dining room look bigger will help your space feel more inviting to sit down and dine at. If you're looking at yours and think it could appear more spacious, this expert guide is for you. 

We've quizzed design pros, including a dining area specialist, to find out what you can do to change up your space. Paying attention to materials and using mirrors strategically are just a couple of their top tips.

You might have gathered plenty of stylish small dining room ideas, but paying attention to how furniture and decor make the space look size-wise is a key part of decorating this room well.

How to make a small dining room look bigger

These dining room ideas are all about making the room appear larger, lighter, brighter, and more inviting for your next dinner party.

Where uur experts mention useful furniture buys, our experienced shoppers have carefully curated highly-rated quality items to help you get the look.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Go for a minimalistic approach

A white dining room with an door opening to a garden, a white and rose gold pendant light hanging over a curved wooden dining table with white plastic chairs underneath it and tall flower stems on top of it

(Image credit: Future / Barbara Egan Photography)

We’re sure all your decorations and trinkets are absolutely stunning, but if you want to make your small room look bigger, you might need to edit these down.

“Adhere to a simple design style so as not to create a feeling of oversaturation,” says Amanda Groebner, interior designer and co-owner of Timeworn USA.

A picture of Amanda Groebner, a woman wearing black glasses and a white jumper and white t-shirt with brown hair tied back
Amanda Groebner

Amanda Groebner holds a Bachelor's degree in Interior Design from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a focus on Historic Restoration. With a background in restaurant design and a focus on communal tables and table tops, she has a thorough understanding of how to maximize tiny dining environments for functionality and aesthetics.

She continues, “Choose enviable pieces with simple lines for a minimalist appearance.”

Amanda recommends removing any unnecessary decorations, which you could always relocate to a different room in the house or donate to a secondhand furniture store such as Goodwill.

2. Remove any bulky furniture

A dining room with peach and white wallpaper, a window with long gray curtains, a wooden dining table with navy blue dinnerware and wooden chairs underneath it, and a wooden sideboard and bookcase beyond it

(Image credit: Future)

It can be easy to fill a dining room will large furniture to give it the feel of an ornate dining space. In a smaller dining room though, it’s best to say goodbye to anything too bulky.

“For example, I've been voting China cabinets out of dining rooms for years, as many are just too small to accommodate them,” explains Amy Bell, interior decorator and founder of Red Chair Home Interiors.

A picture of Amy Bell, a woman with brown hair wearing v-neck navy blue dress standing in front of a white background with black logos saying 'Cary Living' on them
Amy Bell

Amy Bell is a professional interior decorator and owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC. Her specialty is creating feel-good homes via collaborative, hourly sessions with her clients. Quality Business Awards selected Red Chair for its 2022 "Best Interior Designer in Cary" designation.

If you must have small space storage ideas in the dining room, Amy recommends going for a sideboard (we like this sleek Winston Porter Nerino Sideboard from Wayfair) topped by a mirror and a pair of lamps, as this feel more open than a tall China cabinet.

3. Be mindful of the dining table shape

A dining room with white walls with three wall art prints, a hanging black chandelier, a round wooden dining table with black legs and blue curved seats underneath it, and beige flooring underneath it

(Image credit: Furniture and Choice)

When looking for small dining room table ideas, it’s important to be mindful of the shape of it, as this can completely change how a dining room looks. Amy explains, “Half the battle is ensuring the dining table's shape and size are harmonious with the shape and size of the room.”

She recommends a round table for a square room and a rectangular or oval table for a rectangular room, as these are the best dining tables for these rooms.

“When selecting a round table, remember a pedestal table base will better accommodate squeezing in extra guests around the table, as all chairs will be able to tuck under the table,” she adds.

As well as this, Amy suggests allowing a bare minimum of three feet of traffic space from the back of the dining chairs to the nearest wall or piece of furniture. Avoid having to shimmy around your dining table when you’ve got a hot plate of food in your hands, by learning how to arrange furniture in a small dining room like a pro.

4. Move the dining zone

A cream colored dining room with a white wall with two framed wall art prints, a circular white table with yellow and blue bottles and dinnerware, and six metal chairs with black seat covers

(Image credit: Future)

It may feel like the most natural step to keep your small dining room table ideas bang in the middle of the room, but this can actually make it look smaller and impact the flow of movement.

“Consider putting the dining area next to a wall, as this moves the small dining room design out of the way of traffic, making more room available," says Tommy Mello, home improvement expert and founder of A1 Garage Door Service.

A picture of Tommy Mello, a man with short brown hair wearing a white shirt
Tommy Mello

Tommy Mello is a home improvement and DIY expert, and the founder of A1 Garage Door Service, a $100M+ home service business and home service industry leader. He is also the author of Home Service Millionaire and the Home Service Expert podcast. Tommy is brilliant at making the most of every room in the house.

If you live in a modern house without a space designated for the dining area, Tommy recommends creating a small dining room nook near a wall which connects the kitchen to the living room. An extendable table, such as the Bay Isle Home Solange leaf drop table from Wayfair are worthy investments.  

5. Utilize mirrors

A dining room with a gray wall with a silver sun-shaped mirror, a light wooden dining table set laid out with white and glass dinnerware and a vase of green flower stems and a white bookshelf

(Image credit: Future)

Even if you can’t change the size of your small dining room, you can create a magical illusion of more space with a marvelous mirror.

“Put mirrors opposite the windows to bring natural light into a space, as this will create the effect of depth and extend a room visually,” Amanda suggests.

You could use a full-length mirror on one wall to magnify the visual of a large room (this Latitude Run Tyro Mirror from Wayfair is a glam choice) or use a mirrored feature wall to create it.

6. Pick a long rug

A green dining room with a gallery wall of square prints, a gold curved pendant light, a wooden dining table with a table runner, decor, white chairs and edges, and a black and white striped rug

(Image credit: Future)

Make the most of the length of the dining room by picking a rug which ‘elongates’ the space.

Amy explains, “A properly sized rug will be two feet longer than the tabletop in all directions.”

She recommends laying out two tape measures (this Gdminlo Soft Tape is Amazon’s Choice if you need one) on the floor in an L shape to see where the rug will end. 

“If a rug this size will end less than six inches from any wall, or if the rug would force people to walk through the room with one foot on the rug and one foot off, it's better to omit the rug altogether,” she says.

If you’re looking for a long rug, this farmhouse-style Vaukki Hallway Runner Rug on Amazon is one of the best Amazon rugs.

7. Consider transparent or light-colored furniture

A dining room with large windows showing a green garden, with a dining set with four ornate gray chairs and a black reflective table, with a gray rug underneath it

(Image credit: Future)

Just like using mirrors, choosing furniture colors in transparent or light materials will help reflect light.

Amanda says, “Through the use of translucent or clear pieces of furniture like glass or acrylic dining tables and chairs, small dining areas can convey freshness, lightness, and a sense of openness.”

If you have a piece you want to bring into your space, you could always learn how to upcycle furniture and paint it in one of the best paint colors for small spaces, such as crisp white or light gray.

When decorating your dining room, don’t make small space design mistakes by choosing dark materials and large furniture. Be intentional with every piece and you’ll have a small dining room which appears to be larger than it really is.

Once you’ve ‘expanded’ your small dining room, you can then move on to making a small living room look bigger, as this is also an area guests hang out in.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.