Bench on one side, chairs on the other. Putting a low bench on one side of the dining table in place of chairs is an easy way to break up a set, typically costs less than buying individual chairs and is great for small spaces. Try an upholstered bench for comfort during leisurely meals or a wooden bench for a sleeker look.
Geometric play. This small dining nook was designed by Kimball Starr Interior Design in San Francisco. Starr says her clients wanted the area off the kitchen to be used as an activity nook for playing board games with friends; she added a touch of grown‐up glamour with impressive geometric pendants and a custom banquette upholstered in a playful fabric.
Swing‐arm sconce. A swing‐arm sconce designed to extend over the table (like the one shown here) is an unexpected alternative to the traditional chandelier, and can work even for renters if you choose a plug‐in version. Because the bulb is exposed, you'll need to use a lower‐watt filament bulb to create that lovely soft glow. But because one low‐watt bulb is not enough to light a room on its own, it is necessary to supplement with additional lighting – try a second sconce, or a pair of lamps atop a credenza.