Even small kitchen islands can make a big impact.
In a small kitchen you have to make the most of your space. But what if you want to add a kitchen table? Don't worry—it doesn't take as much room as you might think, and we'll walk you through the process of deciding on small kitchen table ideas, from measuring to furniture layout.
First, measure your space. You'll need to allow a minimum of 7 feet to accommodate a small table and chairs, though 8 feet is better and 9 feet is optimum. (Nine feet allows for a 36" table and a 36" clearance for each chair.) Try to leave 48" of walking space around the table so nobody ends up knocking the orange juice glasses off the table.
If your space is extremely tight—an urban apartment or condo, for example—you still have options. You can choose a smaller table (though don't go below 30 inches) or find a drop-leaf table that you can pull out when you have guests.
Drop-leaf tables are good for a variety of reasons. Not only do they look great tucked against a wall with the leaves down, you can actually feed two people, one at either end, without extending them. They can serve as storage between meals, as well, for decorative items like placemats and candlesticks, or as a place to do homework, like a de facto island.
Speaking of islands, they make great substitutes for small kitchen tables. With or without an extra leaf, all you need are a couple of stools and you've got service for two.
Some small kitchen islands have built-in shelves for things like wine glasses and dishes, perfect for petite dining areas. If you're extremely short on space, you can find tables that fold down completely, with sliding storage areas for collapsible chairs (don't worry—they're sturdy when you sit on them). This lets you store them in a closet or under a bed when they're not in use, and pull them out when company arrives.
A couple of tips to consider: Round tables let you get more chairs around them, as do pedestal tables. Although the traditional country kitchen table is what comes to mind for this style, you can also find beautiful modern small kitchen tables made with metal pedestals and a variety of materials for the tops. One version has rounded chairs that, when pushed under the table, fit around the table edge—leaving only a small, circle-shaped footprint for the entire table set. Another modern small kitchen table idea is a Saarinen-style tulip table.
As for decorating small kitchen tables, there's no need to skimp. Use rounded-edge placemats to save corner space, petite centerpieces (one of our favorites is a collection of painted bud vases, each filled with a single flower) or pretty candlesticks. Just leave room for your guests to talk over the decorations—nobody wants to spend their evening having a conversation with a vase of sunflowers.