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What’s The Best Layout For A Pass-Through Dining Room? Caitlin Explores In Her Own Home

I have made a mountain out of a molehill. I have thought myself into a corner (literally. Twice!). I HAVE GIVEN UP. (Well, almost, at least.) The culprit behind my impending demise and omnipresent tension headache? My apartment’s 10′ wide, 15′ long pass-through dining room. She’s beautiful, she’s enormous, and y’all, she is FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH DOORS AND OPENINGS AND WINDOWS. Every time I’m like, “oh, maybe this is a good dining room layout to try,” there is an architectural feature in the way!!! (Such is life when you have a pass-through space, I guess.) But here’s the thing: even having a dining room in LA – much less one of this size! – is an incredible privilege, and I’M TOTALLY BLOWING IT. So today, I am throwing my hands in the air and humbly asking for your layout feedback. I’m breaking out some embarrassing, unstyled, unfinished photos of a room whose aesthetic can currently best be described as “Toontown-meets-flea market…but, like, not in a cute way” in the hopes that, well, maybe we can talk through my final three layout options together. THE INDECISION ENDS TODAY. Ready?

Current Layout

Some context: The dining room is the heart of my railroad-style apartment. There’s a 6′ opening that connects it to the living room; there’s a wall of windows with a door to the balcony; there’s a swinging door that opens to the kitchen (usually closed); there’s a door to the hallway (ALWAYS open because I’m STILL obsessed with ogling that paint color). You ready to see some actual progress shots?

AHHH. Sometimes I hear politicians say things like, “wow, I’m so humbled by (award/honor/something that would be an ego boost, if anything)” and I think ALL of those people should have to post photos of their in-progress houses for critique because THIS IS ACTUALLY HUMBLING. I can get kind of touchy and embarrassed about sharing my space as it is right now (like, in person, too) because I feel insecure about the discordance between my job and my actual life. It feels weird (and sometimes fraudulent, if I’m being super honest) to write about design while sitting in the middle of a room that doesn’t look cohesive or finished yet, you know? BUT I DIGRESS. Gimme a second to pull my head out of my literal butt and then we can talk about what’s working and what’s not. Got a little too earnest there for a second, huh???

My main gripe – outside the haphazard collection of much-loved vintage chairs and case goods that have been relegated here as placeholders – is that the furniture layout just kinda sucks. And by “kind of,” I mean that THIS LAYOUT BLOWS CHUNKS, guys. If there was a textbook about how not to arrange furniture in a pass-through dining room, my current dining room configuration would be a contender for the cover shot. You know what happens as soon as anyone sits down at ANY of the chairs? ADIOS, WALKWAY. Catch ya later, ability to open doors. And since my credenza is so big, my dining table is sliiiightly off-center from the light fixture above. There’s more that drives me nuts, but it’s reductive. The TL;DR: It’s like death by a thousand little design agony cuts in here. BUT…

There have been good parts, too! I’ve been REALLY slow in purchasing for this room, but I’ve also been much more intentional with what comes in here. It’s not glamorous (she said, staring at a sea of 1980s laminate – I had a long postmodern phase, y’all) and collecting pieces for this long is VERY anti-climatic – I wish I could be a One Room Challenge type! – but deep down, I know it’s going to lead to a result that I’m much happier with in the long term.

Case in point: I purchased this lucite ribbon chandelier for a song at the Long Beach Flea in July of 2019 and from the moment I saw it, I knew it would live in my dining room one day. 3 years have passed, but I’m just as excited about hanging it up today as I was back in 2019. (“My affections and wishes have not changed” – technically Mr. Darcy, but also my internal monologue when I think about this light fixture getting installed.) I love how its tubular ribbons speak to the chimes of my doorbell and how the brass echoes the gold in the wallpaper. If taking a long time to design a space means that all of these elements I love will get to shine together, well…I’m glad, I guess 🙂 To that end, I’ve landed on 3 final layout configurations and I’m ready to get all of these pros and cons out of my head…READY?

Option 1: With A Twist

GROUNDBREAKING STUFF, I KNOW. In this layout – the easiest switch of the three – I’d nix the larger credenza, center the dining table and chairs in the middle of the room, and I’d opt for a smaller storage piece near the window (ideally probably about 40″ wide and fairly narrow, if I’m putting wishlist specifics out into the universe).

The Pros: This is pretty easy! I’d probably keep an eye out for the burl version of my current dining table on Facebook Marketplace (the stark white is pretty jarring to me against the wallpaper – does it stand out to you, too, or am I too in my head?). I’d reclaim my vintage waterfall bench for seating – it’s currently in the corner next to the window and it looks SO good with the curve of the table base, guys!!! – and while I’d love to search for 4 new chairs to tie everything together, I thiiiink I’d just reupholster the 1970s Italian chairs from above in a punchy seat fabric (got them for $1 each on Craigslist about 4 years ago – still can’t beat that price!!).

The Cons: I hate this plan. I mean, it’s…fine? It opens up the space a bit, but it’s pretty uninspired. It also doesn’t solve my current pain point of “OH MY GOD, why did I put a table in the middle of the room and now I have to speed walk and zig-zag around an obstacle while trying not to drop 30 bottles of Kombucha, oh no oh no oh no.” I really, really, really wanted to find a way to connect the living room entrance with the hall and kitchen doors to make my schelpping (of food, but also of suitcases and decor and furniture and goods of all kinds) a bit easier. That brings us to…

Option 2: The Banquette

NOW WE’RE TALKING. This one’s a little harder to grok (seeing as you don’t also, you know, live in my apartment with me while spending hours every day thinking about my dining room layout), so let me show you what I’m dreaming of a little more closely, yeah?

I’ve been obsessed with this banquette for a minute – it was actually the piece that spawned my dissertation on banquettes – and I’d love to see it right underneath the doorbell. It feels fun and a little more intimate than the previous layout option – I like that the idea of the dining area being tucked away a little bit, instead of just floating out in the middle of the room. (Why am I writing this like I live with a ton of people and need privacy???) I recently ordered 10 fabric samples, but I’m most leaning towards a nice lil’ pink shade – the living room is gonna be pink, too 🙂

Here, I’d love to see a tall dry bar with two visually lightweight stools…though literally anything would be a massive step up from this ill-sized bench, which was moved to this spot for a shoot and remains because (a.) my cat loves napping here and (b.) IT’S SO CUTE WHEN SHE’S NAPPING HERE. Anyway – I’m on the hunt for a dry bar like this one above in particular – I love the brass details, the mix of rattan and steel, and the sheer and delicate framing. I like that it’d be the primary piece visible from the living room – it feels inviting, like it’d draw folks into my apartment – and I also love how it speaks to the color palette from the doorbell. The kicker? The shipping alone for this piece is $1,500 (she wrote, weeping) – if anyone spots a similar piece in the continental US…well, I’ll be here, sitting and waiting, with my uShip account at the ready.

The Pros: I am going to copy this verbatim from my own personal notes: “I like it. I like bars. I want to be able to lay down while eating.” SIMPLE. THOUGHTFUL. COMPELLING.

The Cons: I can’t find a freakin’ table, you guys. In a dream world, I’d find a pedestal table that’s around 40″ x 52″. In reality, that does not seem to exist (in my price range, at least). I have considered a few other options to make it work – getting a vintage table base and cutting my own top is the frontrunner right now, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of 2 smaller round tables – but that’s actually not my only concern: is there going to be a weird and/or off-putting amount of space in the center of the room now? I have to admit that I do kind of like that from a functional perspective – I have a rower and my air conditioner is in the dining room, so it’d be great to have a space big enough to work out in next to the A/C – but I worry that guests will look at my rower-less space and be like “uh, hey, why is there a literal ballroom’s worth of empty space between your furniture, dummy???”

Option 3: The Other Banquette

Which brings us to the final possible configuration – an ~8′ straight line banquette, paired with a standard ~6′ table and two regular dining chairs. I’m still not totally sure how I feel about this – I’ve been thinking about it for weeks and I still can’t figure out if it’s my favorite option or if I totally hate it.

The Pros: A full-sized table could fit and the whole setup could hold WAY more people than the L-shaped banquette (like, twice as many, I think). I think this one may be the best use of space (if my goal is seating as many people as possible, which it seems to be). The path to the kitchen and hallway is super clear, too, which would make pushing furniture around the apartment SO much easier.

The Cons: And again – I will quote this straight from my personal notes: “Still too much weird space in the middle? Will chair backs be close to the door? I think I’m spiraling.” (Pretty self-aware, at least.) I’m still concerned about the gaps in the middle of the room, but the general flow of these banquettes just feels better to me – what do you think? I know we’ve gone over a lot today, so I want to leave you with a full overview of where we are and where we’re going – ANY feedback, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions, comments, quips, well-wishes, etc. will be VERY appreciated.

WHAT SAY YOU??? Please help. What kind of layout would you opt for, if this was your home? Any furniture suggestions? Am I overthinking? (Maybe don’t answer that one. We all know that I absolutely am!!!) Anyone else struggling with an unassuming room that has slowly but surely morphed into a design agony? Let’s all commiserate. I can’t wait to get outta my head and into the comments – SEE YOU DOWN THERE 🙂 xx

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Amelia
1 month ago

Number 3 hands down. Way better use of space. Definitely not too much empty space either (I often think US style is to jam rooms full of furniture and stuff unnecessarily). Good luck!

Diane
1 month ago

Number 3 all the way. The second option is also pretty cool, but for me, the rounded edges of the table with the straight lines of the banquette would create some weird seating angles, but the third rectangle-on-rectangle arrangement is super efficient. The bar is for sure a grand slam. Oh and you know how you refer to this as a “pass-through” dining room? That space in the middle of the room is not weird; it is what will allow you to actually “pass through” without running hurdles or completing an obstacle course. Can’t wait to see you bring this room to life!

Tarynkay
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane

I agree about the space in the middle not being weird. Maybe mock this up with painters tape on the floor, bc I feel like it’s not actually going to be that much empty space, even in option 2. And if it is, just buy one of those foldable dance floors like they have at weddings and put it out when you have guests. If anyone could casually deploy a portable dance floor and announce an impromptu post dinner dance off, it’s you.
I like option 2 best.
The bar looks great, I love the idea of one that you can stand behind to serve drinks while your guests sit on the stools. I hope you find something similar that is more attainable!

Meredyth
1 month ago

Totally off this topic, but can you link in that wallpaper? Love it

Elle
1 month ago

Number 3, but I wouldn’t do the bar as such a big piece with stools – you don’t need to sit at your bar as you have the table right there. I’d do an airy bar cart to avoid blocking light from the window, and put a fairly shallow set of shelves between the kitchen and hall doors for books and work items (as your computer is in here so presume you need some work storage) and beautiful china or glassware for the bar. I’d put a very large parlour palm by the window near the living room entry, which would automatically scootch the walk-through area over a little away from the windows and fill some visual space on the side furthest from the table.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Elle

Yes, or a bar cabinet of some type.

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Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

THIS! 2 or 3 + Bar cabinet in the space for the bar table. Seating at the bar is the odd thing in the plans for me, but I love the bar cabinet for adding height + function.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Kj

Kj… I love this idea! Much better as a cabinet.

Jennifer
1 month ago

OMG please buy that amazing shelf!!! It will look so great in your dining room with the glam chandelier!

1 month ago
Reply to  Elle

I agree with Elle – wonderful suggestion, you don’t need stools for bar , I really think you could find one , as she said, airier , that you love as much without that kind of money – and you’re a very cute person , i angst all the time about my decor 😻

Julia Sugarbaker
1 month ago

#3 for sure! The asymmetrical layout is so much chiller, and even in non-pass-through room I think a centered table is often just a black hole. Shape of the bar is great, but maybe diy-able?

Diane
1 month ago

I agree about a DIY bar, Julia. Maybe Caitlyn needs to talk to Les Bunge.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane

🤣🤣

mockginger
1 month ago

Definitely #3!

Karen
1 month ago

I have a walkthrough dining room that connects the other two first floor rooms: living room and kitchen. I have been wanting a round table vs my current rectangle so it doesn’t feel like a narrow pathway from one room to another. I won’t mentally take on your agony because my living with my own!

Susan
1 month ago

Number 3. Slide the table to the left and line it up w the end of the banquette. Put a chair on each end. Then the light would need to go left as well. I don’t like the bar. Get a chest of drawers or a cupboard which could be used as something else in a different house. Also I can’t remember if this wall paper is special so I don’t want to be mean. I think it looks like you have lined your room w quilts. Too busy for me. Thank you for asking for our opinion.

Vera
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan I like your layout ideas but wholeheartedly disagree re the wallpaper! 😃 I am so enamoured with it! It makes me smile every time we get a peak!

Emily
1 month ago

OK, Option 1 is a total no-go: it’s boring and not functional. Next! I think you’ll be happy with 2 or 3, whichever is easiest to pull off from a furniture sourcing perspective. I’m leaning towards 3, it feels more balanced, although I do like the cozy corner nook of Option 2.

Mara
1 month ago

Longtime reader, infrequent commenter and voracious reader of comments here! I had to voice my opinion because at 7:45am EST, the number of people voting for option three is KILLING ME!
here we go:
I like your CURRENT layout (GASP!). I also have a room similar to yours and I chose a smaller table with and expandable leaf. So when I have people over, the leaf goes in (there is reduced movement anyway) and when it’s just my family, the leaf comes out.
My opinion: you don’t have space around your table because your table is too big. Buy one that can expand and it will allow for circulation around the room.
whatever you choose will look lovely!

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Mara

Yes, I was going to say the same thing! My first thought was that the table was way too big. Maybe a narrower table would be a good idea as well. How often is Caitlyn hosting big dinner parties, anyway? If it’s not often, then she doesn’t actually need that much seating every day.

I also have a narrow & small passthrough dining room, and since I’m an introvert who very rarely has more than one or two people over at a time, I nixed the rectangular table completely and got a round table with a custom 38″ top cut from a marble remnant and paired it with Thonet style bentwood chairs since they’re more compact, and it works perfectly. I opted to push over by the wall instead of centered, and then put a cute candlestick lamp on the wall edge to make up for the non-centered light fixture and it’s cute and bistro-like.

I also like the suggestion to use a bar cart instead of a floating bar to not block the light from the window.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Mara

Yesss!!!

A
1 month ago
Reply to  Mara

I agree with this, but Caitlin—I think you need to be SUPER honest with yourself about how often you have large groups of people over for dinner. In the banquet world, the number of diners is really SET. But if you know you’re not a 12 person dinner party kind of gal, who cares?! I have a pass through dining room in the most intense way (it is the central room of our 1200sqf house and it is our access to backyard, bedroom, kitchen, and living room). We have a table with two expanding leaves because 1) the room is just sooo central and 2) we have 5-10 people over for dinner at least twice a month. Know thyself, I guess??

1 month ago
Reply to  Mara

Totally agree here. I also have a pass through dining room and it’s no big deal with a bit of a smaller table which includes leaves (extra points for integrated leaves). Additionally, removing your door to the hallway (do you ever close it?) will free up space and allow furniture to be centered properly. You might be able to do a more narrow credenza/buffet on the wall to the right of the living room opening.

Lori
1 month ago
Reply to  Malissa

Oh, chiming in to second the shallow credenza. I actually DIY hacked mine– I used a set of extra tall upper cabinets and added fun legs, extra shelves, and a stained wood top using the cheap craft wood from Lowe’s that looks like a thinner butcherblock. The 17″ depth works perfectly and stores a ton!

Jennifer
1 month ago
Reply to  Malissa

I was also gonna suggest removing and storing the doors 🙂

Erica
1 month ago
Reply to  Mara

Yes, I had the same thought… A round (expandable to oval) table will feel much easier to walk around then something with square edges.

Emily
1 month ago
Reply to  Erica

100% the same thought abut round to oval in the center of the room! Leaves a nice walkway for the 90% of the time it’s round and oval is the most flexible for pulling up lots of chairs when you want to!

Annie
1 month ago

I like options 2 & 3, but I would nix the bar and bar stools. No one will ever sit there. Ever. So, maybe just a bar cart? Or a tall, pretty storage piece? And a big plant or two? Give the room some room to breathe.

Jessvii
1 month ago

I like Option 2 but I might consider a square table. If I did Option 1, I’d move the table further towards the corner (away from center of room and kitchen entrance). As-is feels heavy – I feel like you could lean all the way in and make it a party room (think hotel lobby area in Christmas with a welcoming long but narrow bar and velvet seating and plenty of space for people to walk or stand or mingle and some sparkly/shiny things when a convention comes through). I feel like Option 3 needs a third dining room chair to balance the bench (looks like you can seat 4 on the bench and 2 across).

Stephanie Davis
1 month ago

Well then do a larger bar instead of a large table at all. Then maybe a small bistro table where you have the bar now

Pinny
1 month ago

Your dining room has that gorgeous wallpaper as a starting point. It sounds like you want the room to function as a dining room. Keep the traditional layout of table and chairs in the center but smaller than what you have. Nix the large credenza and see if you can find two smaller storage pieces to fit under the two windows. No need to get too creative here, just re-size your pieces.

Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Pinny

I agree! 2 and 3 feel a little forced and awkward to me.

Melanie Templeman
1 month ago

Option 2. I like the extra seating and open walkways.

Erica
1 month ago

Why don’t you use your existing furniture to set up #3 and see how you like it? You can also try #1. (Meaning, go ahead and get rid of the credenza, then use the pink bench that’s by the kitchen door with your dining table and some chairs to lay it out.) It doesn’t matter if the pieces themselves aren’t quite right, you’ll still get a sense of how the space feels.

Karine
1 month ago
Reply to  Erica

Sensible! I’m also a fan of #3.

Kristin
1 month ago

Option 4! I would rotate the table perpendicular to how you have it now and center it between the doors to the hall and kitchen. And ground it with a huge rug. Then put a bar cart under one window and a smallish credenza under the other window with plants / for platters of food / etc.

Emma
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristin

This! I have a smaller passe through dining room and this is how I have it set up. Placing the table so the long sides run parallel to the walking space works great.

herselfindublin
1 month ago

I think if you go with Option 2 or Option 3, the pass-through route is too direct and your dining room will feel like a hallway with a dining table in it, which is not convivial or relaxing. Also, for the size of this room I think a table crammed in the corner will feel crammed in the corner. So I’m going to have to vote for Option 5 – which is the current table where it currently is, and the smaller credenza but in the top right hand corner. I suggest you take away the chairs at the head and foot of the table and instead have three chairs facing each other (or three chairs facing a bench) on the long sides of the table. This will allow you have much more breathing room and walkaround room at the ends of the table, so you will have a roomy if meandering path from both the hallway and kitchen to the living room, and also easy access to the door to the balcony. I think you will have to put the tall-backed white chairs somewhere else, as the height of the backs is cutting off the visual flow. And, as… Read more »

JH
1 month ago

Yes!! Less is more!

K
1 month ago

I agree with all of this!! Thank you for typing it all up for me. 🙂 I agree with the chairs being *a lot*—-rein it in, lower backs so it doesn’t visually block the space so much. Also, yes to the credenza in the upper right corner.

Maria
1 month ago

I’ll be the odd one out and vote for option 1, for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t personally understand the need for a bar. It feels very 80s/rich Hollywood to me – I think I saw it recently in Gwyneth Paltrow’s AD tour and it just felt so luxe and unnecessary, but maybe I’m not sophisticated enough to get it (and I’m European, I guess small spaces don’t allow for even entertaining the idea of at-home bars). The second reason is that I didn’t really understand the functional problem with this layout: what will you schlep through the dining room? Isn’t the entrance to the apartment somewhere in the hallway? Unless you have to pass with groceries through the dining room I don’t really see a problem with going around the table, especially given that the big credenza won’t be there. I also like this option because it lets you keep more of what you have, specifically that beautiful pink bench, which goes perfectly with the wallpaper. Finally, when I saw that the second option was a banquette I thought you would use the space by the window for a work area, since you seem to be using… Read more »

Kathryn
1 month ago

Have you taken a look at Shonda Rimes’ recent (ish) AD tour? Similar dining room layout to your option 2 – might help you visualize what it feels like? I don’t think you end up with as much empty space as you think

Deborah
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Oh, yes, 100% agree!

Paula
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathryn

I LOVE Shonda Rimses’ dining room! My favorite room in her house. So cool.

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Yes! The magazine layout only has two photos of it but the AD Open Door video shows more: world’s hardest working room – a combo dining/guest/library/TV/sitting room. https://youtube.com/watch?v=aB7JCNRI3rY

Susan
1 month ago

The super tall backed chairs are just visually jarring for me so those would go first. Then I would opt for the final layout. How often are these hypothetical guests over to visit? WHO are you designing the space for? YOU, who uses this space 100% of the time, or guests who use it what % of the time? Design for you. You are going to be grateful for a clear path through the space plus a functional table and bar. I “designed” a space for hypothetical guests who didn’t use it often, which meant I used it NEVER because it wasn’t designed for me who lives here. Design should elevate how you actually live in and use a space, not prevent you from doing so. And if you want to row in here near your AC, you actually CAN instead of never using it because the room is set up for guests and not you. I totally understand your dilemma. I’m an interior painter and can’t pick colors in my own home to save my life. All of my clients are happy with colors I help them select for THEIR spaces. Gonna need to break down and hire a… Read more »

Janet Maria Trice
1 month ago

How about taking off the kitchen door for a more open plan spacious feel !

Jill
1 month ago

Thanks for sharing your design dilemma with us Caitlin – I love these posts!! I vote option 3 and I am pro bar because WHY. NOT. @shopvintagedallas has an amazing (but not cheap) vintage bamboo tiki bar right now that I keep eyeing – you check it out on her Instagram. Can’t wait to see what you end up doing in here!

Kristin
1 month ago

Option #2 or #3. We have a pass-thru dining room and recently switched to a round table and it is LIFE CHANGING. Highly recommend! Crate and Barrel has a nice pedestal base table in 40″ or 52″. I would also skip the bar, IME it’s a set-up that no one ever sits at and takes up too much real estate. Doing a smaller credenza or a bar cart would give you more flexibility and space.

mouseface
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristin

It would help to kn the rooms dimensions ? Round/oval table definitely, I’d nix the bar. like 3 or 4 with no bar- Id put the rower where the bar is. My hot take: you don’t have to solve all the issues at once. Once you get the table set you can deal with the empty space. It will only feel like a pass through to YOU – others will marvel at the airy grooviness. You can add a chair, low glass shelf, mirrors, etc. Dress it with some plants. If I were an eccentric millionaire I would gift you with a Nichols rug for the room. I know I never stop pushing them onto you but I feel them for you – they make any space feel like the best space.

mouseface
1 month ago

Nichols rugs are often just listed as ‘ rugs’ at yard sales, Craigslist, Housing Works Restore. Just make sure you smell it first and get it double deep cleaned. For a 9X12 that’s about 400$ in my area . People don’t love them on CL so the price tends to drop or they would take offers over time.

Dena
1 month ago

So much love for the Chinese Art Deco rug! I found someone selling one local for $150 because they had no idea (yes a humble brag but it is my second top vintage score of my lifetime!). It had been carefully wrapped up all its life!! 🥰

Debbie
1 month ago

I like both banquette options. Before you decide on any of the options, the first thing I would do is have someone remove the swinging door that leads to the kitchen!

monica
1 month ago

I think you need to get the table out of the center of the room , so I like 2 and 3, but how about just putting the dining table in the other orientation in that area near the hallway entrance. You could just try that now without doing too much of anything. Maybe the bench along that wall to the right of the kitchen entrance. I think it would help make the room feel less long and thin. Also, I think the bar area would be kind of a wast of space- I think a small storage piece would be better there. I don’t think you will feel like there is room much e[pty space once you get used to it and having a clear walkway will be great. Finally, my friend has a railroad apartment and I convinced her to switch her dining area and living room so that living room was in the middle near the kitchen where everyone wanted to Han out all the time anyway, so living room proximal to kitchen made more sense. She put her dining room in the “front room/living room” the room you first walk into when you came into the… Read more »

MKP
1 month ago
Reply to  monica

What a great idea! Also like some other ideas to keep table where it is but flip it perpendicular. And I think a round table with leaves you can add to make it oval would be a great idea.

Pam Williams
1 month ago

LOVE both banquette ideas and would definitely do one or the other. I don’t think there’s too much space in the middle of the room. Space is always a luxury and you could dance there at a party! I do think a wooden table might be warmer and calmer. Can’t wait to see the light fixture hung. Ps love the bar!!

Marian
1 month ago

Number 2!!

Here is a table that fits: https://www.etsy.com/listing/728219975/

Velinda picked it out for me for my banquette, which was featured on the blog last year. It’s a pedestal table, walnut, and you can customize the dimensions. Plus, best part: it was only $800 when I bought it. Only downside is that the guy is reaaaaallly slow to get work done and the table signed 6 months later than he says it would, but it was worth it.

Marian
1 month ago

Of course! The SECOND I saw that layout I was like… she’s gonna have the same problem I did lol.

Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Marian

Ooh, that is beautiful! I love the banquette ideas for #2 and #3, but have you considered a smaller oval table? I’m not sure I’ve got the dimensions proportional in this *highly* professional mockup, but something like this with a small credenza/bar cart/beautiful shallow shelving unit near the door chimes instead of near the window?

But having room for your tower by the AC seems like a major functional win and banquettes are the best so if you can make #2 or 3 work please do it. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

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Christina
1 month ago
Reply to  Christina

(sorry incomplete thought! Have you considered the smaller oval table centred as in option 1 is what I meant.)

Sarah H
1 month ago

Do you actually need the doors, or could you take them off the hinges and have it be more open? I think that’s what I’d do. Also, I do like your current table with the wallpaper but not with the flooring. I’m guessing your landlord wouldn’t let you paint the floor, so maybe just a huge rug to tie it all together? In terms of layout, I’m option 1 all the way.

1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah H

I was waiting for someone to say this! Yes, take the doors off, label them, and put them in the basement. I did this and it bought me so much space! But Iike option 2! A rug, like you suggest, will help define the space as a ‘room within a room’. And I’m also not enamoured of the bar idea- it’s a bit too Mad Men for me, and will take up too much space. I’d go for a lovely credenza, maybe a pretty chair. The room won’t feel empty.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah H

It’s the only air conditioned room, so maybe doors are important for that reason?

Maxine Becker
1 month ago

Option 4 is interesting, also like option 2 with 2 tables – I have glass top table and use lucite folding chairs for extra seating – love your wall paper and ceiling fixture

Renee
1 month ago

Option #1 is my vote–with a smaller table, or a round table and put a bar cart where the credenza is.
I also like Option #2 but I’m thinking that your amazing statement light fixture wouldn’t look good tucked into a corner so that would require a smaller light fixture if you go with Option #2. Good luck! Can’t wait to see the end result!

marie
1 month ago
Reply to  Renee

Another voice to add to the small group preferring option #1: with a smaller or more oval table and a bar cart rather than a giant sideboard, your dining room will be lovely and showcase the gorgeous light fixture and wallpaper. How many people are walking through the space? It’s not a restaurant, so the banquette and bar table/chairs seems strange to me, particularly in an apartment.

Erin Christensen
1 month ago

We had a similar situation in our small dining space and opted for a dining niche with a banquette and plenty of open floor space and I don’t regret it for a second! Go with number 3 or 4, clear those walking paths! Also banquettes are more cozy for working than a table mid room!

Remington
1 month ago

One essential piece of missing info–how much do you entertain? How hard is this dining table going to need to work for you? If you entertain regularly, I vote that you keep the table in the middle for the most flexibility in seating. Perhaps consider a custom, slightly narrower table to give maneuverability. Or stools, which can be pushed almost entirely under the table when not in use. Banquets are lovely and fun and a great use of corner space. But, in my mind, they lean towards casual (like a diner) which makes them less than ideal for a more formal space. Do you want a formal eating space or a casual, fun one? My vote would be to keep it on the formal side and keep the table in the middle.

Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Remington

I think a banquette can be dressed up to feel more formal, if desired.

K
1 month ago

Option #2! Looks great and I don’t think there will be too much space in the center of the room.

Lindsay
1 month ago

Oooh, how about basically number 3, but why not do an L shaped Banquette there as well (bigger version of 2 banquette?) I love how an L shape “hugs” the table and makes it cozier, also makes it more “couch like” and intentional–it becomes obvious the table belongs there, and not in the middle. Maybe you don’t have room? It seems like there should be a table size in the middle between options 2 and 3–for sure if you are cutting your own top.
Anyway, great ideas!! The bar will be a fun focal point–I can see the sunlight shining through some bartop crystal right now!

Shannon
1 month ago
Reply to  Lindsay

Agree about the bar! Caitlyn seems to love it and I’m not sure why people seem so against it anyway.

Breanne
1 month ago

I love option #3. Largest table and still a ton of walking space.

Tracy
1 month ago

I love the round table in number 2, but don’t think it will be as functional as the rectangular table in number. 3. One thing you don’t have in your layout is PLANTS! Are you a plant person? With your windows, I can see a lot of plants doing really well and they will fill some of the empty spaces (although not right in the middle where you would pass through).

I do like the option of a bar cart instead of a bar, because of the windows. They are so pretty and I wouldn’t want to block the view of them- for me or for my plant friends. Or maybe a bar cabinet that would sit against the wall and allow for more storage than a bar cart.

Kandice
1 month ago

I love option 3!

Alli
1 month ago

Do you need a dining room? Maybe use it as an office, float a desk in the middle of the room.

Valerie
1 month ago

Number 3! My last two homes I had a banquette bench so the table was against a wall and actually loved it! Felt like it saved space and was super comfy. Doesn’t work in my current space and I miss it.

Heather
1 month ago

What about the giant reed wine bottle cabinet? Could that and some sitting chairs take the place of the bar?

Jill
1 month ago

I vote for a twist on option 2. Where a round or oval table in the corner is your every day layout, and then switch to a table centered in the room when you have guests over.

1) Instead of building in a banquet, have an impermanent version consisting of your existing bench against the wall there and a matching or complementary bench made for the other leg of the L against the wall.

2) Get a round or oval table with leaves.

3) Get a rolling bar cart instead of a bar with stools.

4) On normal days where it’s mostly just you and your cat, and a big walkways would make your life easier and a smaller table is all you need, lay it out just like option 2.

5) When you have a dinner party, (a) add leaves to the table, (b) pull the table in the center of the room, (c) either use the benches as seating around the table or relocate the benches to other rooms, and (c) roll the bar cart wherever suits you in the dining room.

Katherine
1 month ago
Reply to  Jill

Yup–this is what I was thinking too, or a smaller rectangular table with leaves and send it the other direction in that same corner.

Emily
1 month ago

I really appreciate in-progress / unstyled / imperfect pictures! It’s helps to see why you can’t just go buy the art/wallpaper/furniture you saw and make your room just like something online – i.e. there is a ton of small details and finishing work that also goes into a polished design. Plus it makes me feel better about my regular-people house and my works in progress. Thank you, Caitlin!

Kj
1 month ago

Number two 1000%. Far more functional. Room and Board has a few 60”x37” oval table options.
1)You can sit facing the windows while you are working: Better lighting for video and better for mental health.
2)You can also move to face the wall or the hallway for variety. It’s all about options.
3)Your computer can plug in behind the banquette. Options 1 and 3 leave your cords exposed.
4)More space for other activites as you mentioned.

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

The table should definitely be in the corner away from all the doors. But maybe a round table and chairs? And maybe the chairs should all be the same and not so eccentric? There’s a lot going on in this room. The chandelier seems overbearing to me. I’m asking myself, WWHCD? (What would Heidi Caillier do?) I think the room would benefit from not having every single thing screaming loudly. Do you really need a bar area with stools? Edit, my Dear! Edit!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

Caitlin, my counsellor gets me to blu-tac signs around my house. They work! 😊
(Though mine aren’t design-based, more like “It was THAT bad!” & “Living my rights.”!!)

Julie
1 month ago

Would a round table in the center allowing more space to walk around work?

Shelly
1 month ago

Option 1 without the credenza! You already have all the pieces! This would remain the nicest space to work from!

Iris
1 month ago

I suggest the oval table (from option 3) combined with the second layout. I believe that a dining table centered in the room elevates the space in a way that is hard to achieve with a corner table and banquette.

Anne
1 month ago

My first thought when viewing your space was to break it up into zones, so option 2 or 3 would do that (I am partial to round or oval tables in a banquette setup though) but as others pointed out would the banquette area look crammed into a corner? Maybe your best option is to get a table smaller than your current one with an extension. With that, you can try out different configurations–banquette, center of room, etc. If you love to entertain, I think some sort of bar setup would be fun! Maybe you could hide your rower, etc with a decorative screen?

emily jane
1 month ago

hhhmmmm, why can’t options 2 & 3 be combined -the larger table with the L-shaped banquette..? also, I have a 36 inch round table top on a pedestal base paired with a not-as-groovy but custom DIY L shaped banquette that easily fits 2 individual chairs (except when I photograph it for insta ; ) Emily Jane Zarov (@ejzdancer) • Instagram photos and videos ) so even if you went with #2, I think you could add at least 1 more chair to the arrangement (unless of course you’ve measured those 1970 cuties you plan on keeping and know that in fact, I am incorrect ; ) buuut maybe a groovy vintage stool on wheels that you could snug-up under the table and out of the way of the diagonal hallway-to-living room thru-way..?)..? Also, I’m not sure Style by Emily Henderson would be the blog destination it is today without both the design agonies aaaaand the triumphs that follow of each and every magical MOTO featured here over the years (words/phrases like ‘realistic’ and ‘normalization of the design process” as well as ‘eternally grateful’ remain in orbit in my mind but I get self-conscious about the length of my comments so… Read more »

KD
1 month ago

I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

LouAnn
1 month ago

Option 2 definitely. The oval table is a great contrast to the hard right angle of the banquette. The rectangular table looks a bit too visually heavy.

Consider yourself lucky that you at least have 1 wall without an architectural element on it. My dining room (12 by 12) has a window on the 1st wall, a door to the deck on the 2nd wall, a door-sized opening to the kitchen on the 3rd wall, and a wide opening to the living room on the 4th. Oy. I feel your pain.

LouAnn
1 month ago
Reply to  LouAnn

On reading the comments, however, I also agree with the person who said your current layout is best — just buy a smaller, narrower table (with leaves when you have company). My dining table has 2 leaves that store right under the table.

A common mistake people make is buying a dining room table that is too wide. You really don’t need all that dead space in the middle. And leaves do the trick when the party grows.

Ryan
1 month ago

Hello!

  1. I love option 3
  2. Validating your imposter syndrome. I’m an interior designer in LA and I’m grateful for my space, but certainly not proud. I think that’s so normal and if we had the budgets to make our dream spaces, we would, and they would be amazing, and we have to hold that close and know we’re good enough to be working on what we’re working on and that’s that.
  3. Are you going to the Long Beach flea this weekend?? I follow a few vendors on insta and one of them has a pair of giant white palm tree sculptures that they’re bringing this weekend and I thought of you and the giraffe, ha!
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