First homes (and first apartments) come with so many emotions from excitement to apprehension. There’s a certain freedom that comes with being on your own for the first time and getting to decorate your space in a way that truly reflects your personality. Unfortunately, a small dining room with greenery the one thing your first abode usually doesn’t come with is a lot of square footage—think dining rooms that are more like a breakfast nook and living rooms that double as bedrooms. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful dining area for entertaining, says Mandi Gubler, the home décor blogger and DIY maven behind Vintage Revivals.
While Gubler isn’t exactly on her first home (she lives with her husband, her 13-year-old daughter, her 7-year-old daughter, and her 10-month-old baby), her client, 20-year-old lifestyle vlogger Aspyn Ovard, just moved into her first place in southern Utah and needed some help making the most of her space-challenged quarters. “I wanted her dining area to feel young and fresh while still grounded,” Gubler explains. “The aesthetic we were trying to achieve is relaxed, collected, and bohemian, with a huge nod to vintage.”
Keep reading to see how Gubler transformed Ovard’s small-space dining room into a gorgeous area for entertaining with a little help from The Home Depot’s Home Decorators Collection, and get tips on how to get the look for yourself.
Layer Your Rugs
We spend a lot of time in our dining rooms with our family and friends, so it’s important that the spaces feel relaxed, stylish, collected, and comfortable. One way to open up a smaller room and make it feel cozy and lived-in is with a well-chosen rug. “A rug that’s too small actually makes the space look tinier,” she explains. “You don’t have to spend thousands on a large rug either; layer smaller rugs (especially vintage ones!) on top of a flat-woven rug. Sisal is always a good idea, or add a little pattern if you’re feeling brave!”
Make Creative Use of Space
When your space is challenging, you have to think outside of the box. “Find unique ways to display things to add visual interest without overcrowding your surfaces,” says Gubler, who advises turning to hanging planters as an easy, inexpensive way to breathe life into a smaller room (literally). Some of our favorite easy-to-care-for plants for adding texture and interest to a space include oversize ferns, pothos, and English ivy.
Build your own shelfie
Wall shelving allows you to display smaller items like plants, art, and geodes neatly and artistically, allowing you to add personality to the room without taking up floor space. “It creates a focal point that draws you into the space,” Gubler explains. Try this floating photo ledge version for more of a picture-salon approach.
Be Strategic With Seating
While it may be tempting to buy a standard dining set and not put much thought into it, seating can really make or break a space, especially if you like to entertain. “Aspyn and her husband love having friends over, so the space needed to be able to expand,” Gubler explains. “Because of that, it’s important to plug in as much extra seating as you can without overfilling the space.” The wire dining chairs she chose are light on visual weight, and the barstools bring height to the room.