Before & After: An $1,800 DIY Redo Brilliantly Maximizes the Space in This Tiny Dining Area

updated May 6, 2021
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Before: view of cramped dining area from living room, with two chairs and a bench
Credit: Lara Wilhelm

Those without a dedicated dining room can attest: Squeezing a space to have a meal can be a real feat. In Lara Wilhelm’s (The Unprofessional) 1940s home, for example, there was just a small transition area between the living room and the kitchen. “It had just enough space for a narrow desk that we used as a dining table,” Lara says. But there were two problems: First, the space was too narrow for chairs on both sides of the table, and second, the framing of the entry jutted out and made it really tricky to take full advantage of the space.

Credit: Lara Wilhelm

The result, Lara says, is that the family of three ate their meals with the table pushed against the wall. That worked fine until they became a family of four. “We needed more than just three sides of a tiny table,” Lara says.

To give her family room to spread out over a meal, Lara knew she and her husband, Adam Clark, need to do some renovating.

Credit: Lara Wilhelm

“I knew that if we removed the frame separating the two rooms, we could build a small banquette bench against the wall and have just enough room for a table, chairs on one side and still have a pass-through to the kitchen,” Lara says. So with a plan in hand, Lara and Adam DIYed a roomier, more relaxing space over the course of a few months.

They started by removing the door casing in the opening between the kitchen and living room, then cut into the drywall a little further on either side to create an entirely open pass-through. Then, they added new drywall in those spots to make for a seamless transition. “In hindsight, I would have hired someone do the drywall, Lara says. “It took me so long and there was so much dust in my house.”

The tile floors were the next to go. Lara and Adam removed the tile for the small dining area (the kitchen stayed tiled), then replaced it with wood to match the living room. The matching flooring helps it feel like one big space.

Credit: Lara Wilhelm

The new open layout made space for DIY banquette seating with built-in storage and waterproof DIY cushions, plus two chairs on the opposite site. Lara painted an arch over the banquette to help it stand out; the color is a pretty close match to the painted chairs. A new barn light-style pendant over the table also helps spotlight the space, literally and figuratively.

All told, the project cost Lara and Adam $1,800 — money well spent, Lara says. “I love the use of space,” she says. “It has changed everything about our house and how we eat our meals. It really seems like we have a dining space now, and it didn’t even require a bump out!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: An $1,800 Redo Smartly Maximizes Space in This Tiny Dining Area