A small dining room can be an elegant one. Empty-nesters are downsizing and need a small, intimate dining room. Young families in their first homes may not want a large dining room, and young, urban professionals may not have space for a large dining room. Small, functional, dining rooms require careful planning. The square footage required for four people starts with the table.
The Table Size
The focal point of the dining room is the table. Each person at the table requires a minimum of 24 inches of table space along the edge and 16 inches toward the middle of the table. Allow a minimum of 12 inches for service bowls and platters along the center line of the table and 12 inches at each end for the person at the head or foot of the table. A rectangular table to seat four, one on each side and end, would be a minimum of 44 inches wide and 48 inches long.
Chairs require 30 inches on each side and end of the table. This is enough room to pull the chair back and stand between it and the table. An additional 2 feet minimum should be allowed for people to move around the table when the chairs are out. With these considerations, the 44-by-48 inch table footprint becomes 152- by-156 inches. Over-size or swivel chairs may require more space and should be individually measured.
A buffet and hutch for side service requires additional square footage. Allow 24 inches in front of a buffet for door operation. A buffet is usually a minimum of 16 inches deep and would, therefore, require an additional 40 inches be added to one side of the room. Consideration should be given to other furniture that may be required such as a trolley or side table.
Based on this example, the table footprint is 152-by-156 inches. This is the minimum amount of space needed for a table to comfortably seat four. This equals 165 square feet, or a room roughly 13-by-13 feet. Adding 40 inches for a serving area or buffet along one wall will increase the room dimensions to about 13-by-16 feet or 208 square feet. Doors opening into the room, floor-mounted radiators, large area rugs, and additional furniture will increase the square footage requirement.
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