Bench Dining for Small and Large Spaces

Ok, I told you all that I was trying to come up with some kind of bench dining idea for my formal dining room.

I can only use the monies that I made from selling my formal dining room table and chairs. So, the creativity challenge is on!

I am trying to implement a few things:

      *A place where this room will be used for more than a formal dining.

*A place where enough seating is provided for  my large immediate family for gatherings etc.

*Highlight the prettiest feature in the room. The fireplace!

~But I had to do all of this with a very small dining room.

I am not there yet but I thought I would share with you the progress…….


Bench Dining at 11

This is the view when you walk in the front door and look to the left.

This was the previous view.

dining room 1

Oh. Wait….that was the “putting my cart before the horse” view.

Here is the previous, previous view.

A lot of table. We couldn’t get around it. It was blocking the view of the fireplace and we NEVER used it because of all of the previous.

Bench Dining 1

Can you believe how much more fits in here?

This was a bench I found on CL and with a little bit of paint it transformed into my “bench dining” that I was looking for. Eventually, I will add a cushion for the seat….but I don’t mind waiting to find the right deal.

Bench Dining at 4

It feels good sitting down at the table. We all fit comfortably and my brother and wife and kids have all tested it out and loved it… far.

This is the view from where I sit.

I envisioned cheese and wine……with a romantic and warm atmosphere with family and friends.

Bench Dining at 7

Our first meal?

Chili hot dogs on paper plates…….

Bench Dining at 3

My life is so much cooler in my head.

So….here is where the room sits right now.


~ The antique drop leaf table (antique store score), has to be slid back and forth to allow anyone into the bench.

~ If the bench is in the center facing the fireplace, it blocks the fireplace and swallows the room.

~ I do not want to put a rug back down because I feel like the wood floor is so pretty that it adds warmth on its own.

~ The color of the room still bugs me, but I am too lazy to paint it.

What I’m going for?

Think European dining. Warm and cozy but hotdogs on paper plates instead of wine and cheese.

So, are you up for the challenge?

Want to share some links to some pics that might give me some inspiration?

Bench Dining at 11

Ideas anyone?

Like the difference so far?

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!



15 thoughts on “Bench Dining for Small and Large Spaces

  • February 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm
    Permalink – this might help you with layout. It helped me with my fireplace-on-one-end-huge-window-in-the-middle-of-the-12X15-LR! But maybe I could just follow your lead and make that space into the DR instead! I’m seriously rethinking this now. The fireplace adds so much to the charm and warmth to the room.

    I LOVE all of your pieces of furniture. I have read and also learned that seats without arms at the table makes more room for everyone and also is cleaner on the eye in the space. Of course all your pieces have arms so that may not be an option. I had to rearrange some pieces at our table. Also I added a bench without arms. Now when everyone comes over those with little hineys sit on the bench. It’s added seating without adding furniture. I’m thinking of getting another bench for the other side of the table now.

    OK. I don’t know if any of that is helpful! Forgot to mention, the wood floors are wonderful exposed!

    ps – My life in my head is cooler to! heee!

  • February 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    What a lucky girl. That is a fabulous room to work with! Love the fireplace… and that super new bench 🙂

  • February 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    OK. I know you JUST got the fabulous bench… But here’s my vision if you were able to “start over.” Place the table long ways in front of the fireplace but instead of chairs/bench with backs to them, use backless benches/stools. Omitting the backs along those two long sides, the profile will be lower allowing a site line over the table and to the fireplace. The short ends can do taller chairs… maybe the wingbacks if there is enough room?

  • February 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Love the lighter feel and so right that the fireplace should be the show stopper. Hmm here are some thoughts – just ideas ok?
    First off I’d lose the cabinets on either side of the fireplace. I’d put the wingbacks there angling inwards.
    Then on the table maybe bring it to the center of the room with seats on either side. I know this will put the bench away from the wall but I think that would be fine. Then it gives you some space for a sideboard or something. Kristen uses a bench also and it looks great away from the wall.
    here is a link:
    can’t wait to see what you end up doing..

  • February 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Yeah, gotta say, I like Trish’s idea. Or…put those blue chairs on either side of the fireplace and get the table off the wall. Armless and backless are good ideas. ……………Ha! Listen to me! Like I have a clue! I just know that whatever you decide on, it’s gonna be FABULOUS!!!!! Dona

  • February 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I love Trish’s idea – two backless benches & the table turned. If you turned the table that way would there be room to flank the fireplace with the wing-back chairs, instead of having them by the windows?

    My first thought was to cut off the arms on the bench you have. That would be a quick fix for getting up & down that wouldn’t cost you more money & you could keep the bench you love.

    Take your time & try different arrangements – it will come together. I’ve really enjoyed following your thoughts on this room.

    I love benches & farm tables! I am so blessed to have a set made for my by father-in-law years ago. The bench is the most comfortable I’ve ever sat on & the set is just beautiful. Mine does not have arms & works very well without moving the table. I have pics of my son & his friends growing up on that bench. We always lined them all up to take pics at every activity. I love the little preschoolers all full of excitement all grown up now to grown men with such wide shoulders they’re squished together & still hanging out the sides of the bench.

  • February 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve had your dining/sitting room picture up all day, so I could study it. (No life here!LOL!) I think that the issue may be that you have to much in the room going on. There is no visual rest. From 2 wing-backs, to table/lamp, to fireplace, to table/lamp, to bench, to dining table, to chairs w/arms, to floor. Your eye doesn’t stop. I would take out the tables on either side of the fireplace and do built-ins for storage if you really need it, or smaller shallow bookcases. Replace the armed chairs with armless ones and paint to match the bench. Possible remove the arms from the bench and put in a round accent table in between the two wing-backs. Everything is square, the only real round/soft you have are the lamps. And of course, paint the walls a neutral so the blue of the pillows/wing-backs/curtains pop. Just my opinion…but I truly like where you are headed with the mufti-purpose use.

  • February 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Love where you are taking this. I love the tables by the fireplace but they are a little heavy looking for the room. I would remove those. Just doing that would give it a much more open feeling. I like the idea of putting the chairs on each side of the fireplace if there is room and putting the table in the center of the floor. I would keep the 2 armchairs for the ends of the table and do low benches on each side as others have mentioned. Doing that would keep the eye flowing right toward your beautiful fireplace. Maybe even try putting the table at an angle some way. Just a thought. It will be fabulous! It just takes time.

  • February 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Great room. I love the bench!! What type paint is it? Are you still using Valspar Ultra? What are your thoughts on it??? I love those black dressers you did with it!

  • February 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    How often do you eat in here? Can the chairs go somewhere else then brought in for dinner parties? I agree with putting built-ins on either side of the fireplace or small narrow bookcases.

  • February 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I need to post something similar…I have so many rooms that require an intervention. Great post. I can’t wait to see what you come up with and I agree everyone is so respectful. We all have a room like this (and mine are empty). Here is something that struck me. I love the colors of Laura’s room….take a look and see if you like. I love her transformation.

  • February 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    The room still feels warm and inviting… however… I think the two tables (which are gorgeous) seem too heavy and dark. With the other table- the blended in.. Part me wants to put the wingbacks flanking the fireplace, but I don’t think the size would work. My other thought is paint the chairs to match the bench- but I like the color of the chairs. (DOH!) Paint the mantel the same color at the bench? I love the bench, and the chairs, but maybe something not so chunky? At that point you could turn the table the other direction- or center it and it might have less footprint, physically and visually.

  • February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I love the fact that you want to make your formal dining room a space that you can use everyday! Here is my vision for your room….built in white bookcases on either side of the fire place with the wing back chairs floating in the middle of the room on an angle toward the fireplace. I would drop the leaves on the table and place it behind the wing back chairs as a library table. You could play around with the placement of the 2 arm chairs. I think I would bring arm less chairs into the room or use a low bench when you need more chairs. The wing back chairs could swing around and flank the fireplace when you want to use the table for dining. Your room is a really great space! Enjoy!


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