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  • Writer's pictureThe Rural Legend

How We made Our Small Dining Room Feel Grand

Over the past 5 years, we have completed a lot of small, affordable DIY projects in our dining room to achieve our vision of a grand, high drama space. We're sharing the key concepts and style rules we followed to take our dining room from little to luxury on a budget.

When we first moved into our home, the dining room had no sense of personality. White walls, a simple chair rail, and a boring flushmount ceiling light were all we started with. The perk was that we were essentially starting off with a blank canvas to create any type of space we wanted!

After adding our 6X3.5 foot dining table, 6 chairs, and a china cabinet it immediately felt cramped, so I wanted to use some design solutions to create the illusion of a larger space! These 6 style elements are not just for dining rooms! Use these affordable, easy style rules to make any room feel bigger!

6 ways to make a small room feel bigger

1. Bold Color

I was inspired to take my very first risk with bold, moody color in this space, and painted the top portion of the room Benjamin Moore, Nocturnal Gray. This is literally the most asked about paint color in our home and for good reason. It pulls gray, green and blue depending on the light making it a beautiful chameleon color that coordinates with different wood tones and colors.

To really give the illusion of a larger space, paint the doors and trim the same color as the walls! See how we did that in my home office!

A dining room space with a table, chairs, and golden chandelier.

2. Wall Trim & Moulding

After painting the top portion of the walls dark, the room felt top heavy and the narrow chair chair wasn't doing much for the style of the room. We removed all of the trim - chair rail, window and door trim, and baseboards - and replaced it with a more substantial classic trim. Instead of using wood trim, we chose primed MDF boards, which saved us a lot of money!

You can see all of the details on the trim and tools we used here!

Wall trim and moulding of a dining room.

Raising the chair rail and adding vertical boards help to draw the eye upward creating a taller space. We recently added brick moulding to the top of the chair rail to create more interest and a higher end look. We added the same moulding to our powder room earlier this year which instantly elevated the look of the space!

Corner of a room with an armchair.

We wanted to go a step further in adding drama to this room by installing some form of crown moulding. Because the dining room is only 8 feet tall and the doors and windows almost reach the ceiling, a traditional crown moulding would not fit. We chose a thin trim that fits perfect between the wall and ceiling to add depth and make the room feel even taller.

A dining room with wood table, chairs, and lighting fixture.

3. Decluttering

Up until recently, this room held a dining table, 8 chairs, a tall China cabinet, and a sideboard. While everything fit, it felt cramped. We decided to remove both cabinets from the space and were blown away by how huge the room now feels.

A dining room with checkered tablecloth and black chairs.

Because the cabinets held all of our special family heirloom glassware and serve ware, I had to find new storage solutions for these special pieces.

A white cabinet on a wooden floor.

I spent some time paring down the amount of dishes and glassware we really "needed," and reorganized everything in our kitchen and garage pantry. Much of our serve ware is now stored in our newly organized pantry. Don't miss our pantry makeover!

A dining room with a wooden table and floral arrangement.

4. Window Treatments

Adding drapes to the room softened the space and make the walls seem huge. Make sure to hang your curtains as high as you can to give the illusion of a tall room! We have a beautifully wide window in the dining room, so I made sure that our curtain rod was mounted wide enough on either side of the window so that the drapes just kiss the sides of the window frame when they are open.

A rug and lamp by a window.

5. Rugs

We added this gorgeous vintage inspired rug last year and it is so soft and thick! Adding a rug to any space helps to ground the room and make it feel grander. Pro tip: When adding a rug to a dining room, make the rug is large enough that when you pull a chair out, it stays on top of the rug.

A table and chair on a rug with a floral arrangement.

6. Lighting

Proper lighting can also make a big difference in the way a room feels. In the dining room, we use 3 sources of light. I found this vintage wall candelabra on Facebook Marketplace for $25 a few years ago and it became the inspiration for the rest of the room.

It holds 13 candles when it's full, but I usually add 9 to 11 candles. My battery operated candles come on at 5pm every evening for a soft warm glow.

Side view of living room.

I also found this unique brass tripod lamp at a thrift store and added it to the one piece of furniture we added to the space - a narrow sofa table. It's the perfect amount of light for a dinner party.

Brass tripod lamp.

When we want to play group games or work on a puzzle, we use our semi-flush ceiling light. I chose a very low profile fixture so that it wouldn't compete with the wall candelabra, which is really the star of the room.

A semi flush ceiling light in a dining room.

As you can see from the progression of photos, we didn't get the design of this room right the first time. This space took as 5 years to get just right and feel complete.

Give yourself patience when styling a room in your home. Take your time filling it with the things that bring YOU joy!

A dark blue wall with ornate mirror and paintings.

Don't miss our favorite transformations in the Dining Room!

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