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Design ideas for small kitchen diners

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Ask anyone living in a bijou property and they’ll tell you that one of the main issues is fitting a dining table in their kitchen. While you might think that a dedicated dining space is a luxury, rather than a necessity, for the sake of effective digestion as well as good home hygiene, it is worth fighting for.

To maximise your chances of being able to enjoy your food in comfort, as well as style, take a look at the following ideas for making more of a small kitchen diner:

Be open to folding furniture

Folding furniture is excellent for the kitchen, and is a tried-and-tested way to get more from a small space, as you can take advantage of a free wall and transform it only when you need it. Dining tables that are fixed to the wall and then simply open out don’t infringe on a small room’s footprint at all when not in use, and best of all, they work so well with cheap dining chairs to create a space-effective (and cost-effective) solution.

Once upon a time, fold-down tables might have been a little unfashionable, but now they are taking inspiration from a range of design styles, including Scandinavian and minimalist, to be chic as well as practical.

Design ideas for small kitchen diner chairs
Design ideas for small kitchen diner chairs. Picture by Jonas Jacobsson

Put a cupboard to good use

This is a tip for studio spaces, so you can draw a physical divide between your food preparation and other areas. Use a built-in cupboard as the kitchen, by fitting a small stretch of worktop inside, then you can simply shut the doors and forget that it’s there. This will help with preventing mess and the smell of everything you eat lingering too much as well.

Combine this idea with a fold-down kitchen table, which can also double as a desk if you can work from home, and suddenly a studio flat will start to feel a lot bigger – not to mention better thought out. If you’re wondering what to do with everything that you kept in the transformable cupboard, simply invest in some discreet storage furniture with a double function. Storage benches are perfect for this, but don’t forget about under-bed drawers as well.

Add a breakfast bar

Forbes has written about how a breakfast bar is a quick and simple way to add somewhere to eat, and they aren’t wrong. Jutting the breakfast bar out at a 90° angle from the existing worktop will give you a functional area while keeping eating and cooking separate. There’s also another way to go, if you have an island of some description, no matter how small.

Transform an island into a breakfast bar by simply adding a wooden shelf to the back and sliding some discreet stools underneath. You’ll lose barely any of the floorspace, yet you’ll gain somewhere for the whole family to eat together.

Make the colour brighter

Let’s take a breather from furniture and storage solutions to consider the idea of a lighter wall colour for a small kitchen diner. Although bold, dark or fashion colours are a lot of fun and can make a big statement in a functional space (such as a kitchen), they can also shrink the dimensions. To maximise the perceived generosity of your kitchen, keep the window clear to allow for good light flow, use brighter (but still energy-efficient) bulbs in your overhead lights and keep the walls pale.

White might be the obvious choice for making a room look bigger, but it’s not a natural fit for kitchens, given how much mess and splashing you could have to contend with, although there are special washable paints available. Instead, think about a pale grey or something similar, then make other elements of the room white. Crockery, dining chairs and worktops will all contribute positively.

Use the walls more

Even in huge kitchens, there never seems to be enough storage, but in a small kitchen diner this problem becomes exaggerated. When cupboards are in short supply, you need to get creative with the rest of your available real estate – in other words, your walls. The following can be great for getting practical use out of your kitchen diner walls, without disrupting an aesthetically pleasing design:

  • Pegboards are easy to fix to the wall and can be customised to display a range of different things. Use dowels to make pan lid displays, hooks to hang entire saucepans and utensils or make mini racks to organise Tupperware.

  • Do you remember those suction cups that dish towels were always pushed into? They have made a comeback, because they are small, easy to adhere and leave no damage. They have been given a modern makeover, with pastel tones, fun shapes and child-friendly versions all now available, but they still work well to keep your textiles out of the way. Imaginative small-kitchen owners have been using them for other things, too, like holding sauce spoons while cooking.

  • Metal noticeboards are an easy way not only to keep spices within easy reach, if you store them in magnetic tin, but you can also put household memos on there, too. If you can’t find magnetic tins, simply glue a small magnet on the bottom of existing jars and stick them straight on the wall.

Hanging racks can do more

If you’re desperate to install a dining table in your kitchen but there absolutely is not room for a permanent piece of furniture, add a diner element by repurposing hanging racks. Traditional racks are height-adjustable with cords that tie on the nearest wall, letting you lower your rack and access whatever you have stored on it, but what if you made the rack a solid surface that you could eat on?

It’s different, but it allows for even the smallest kitchen diner to be more functional, and when you’re done, you can simply raise it back up and forget that it’s there until next time. Think of it as a more creative version of a fold-down table. Side note: if you would use a hanging rack for saucepans, a stacking countertop corner rack can be a good alternative that frees up a hanging rack for this idea.

Adopt minimalist principles

When there’s no improving the size of your kitchen diner at all, putting minimalist design principles into practice can help to create a less fussy room. Focus on functional furniture that is proportionally correct and light in colour, and most importantly, avoid busy patterns.

Swapping out overly decorative tiles for a more neutral style will give the impression of more wall area. A plain worktop will encourage you to keep the surface clean and clear of clutter, and never use tables as a dumping ground. Surfaces equal perceived space, always remember that!

A small kitchen diner can be hard to fall in love with, especially when you are a keen cook, but by making the most of what you have and being clever about adding new surfaces, you can enjoy a fully functioning room.

 
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