Small Spaces: Coffee Table Dining

updated May 12, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I must admit, a wee bit of envy welled up when I read Elizabeth’s post on moving venues for dessert. Ahh, how lovely it would be to meander from coffee table to dining table to living room in the course of a meal! Unfortunately, like many small space dwellers, my partner and I are restricted to a single venue: the coffee table.

With a very small kitchen and no real dining area in our studio apartment, we eat all our meals at the coffee table, him sitting on the couch and me on the floor. I grew up in a family that ate sitting on the floor, at a short table (a common practice in many Asian cultures), so this style of dining feels perfectly natural to me. The situation is less agreeable for my partner, who must lean over the table or hold his plate in his lap. Although we love our Modernica coffee table, we have considered replacing it with an adjustable height table to make dining at the couch more comfortable.

We have come up with ways to make coffee table dining less college/bachelor-like. Admittedly, sometimes we are lazy and fail to follow this to a T. But since reading Elizabeth’s post, I have been re-inspired to make more of an effort. It can make a real difference when living in a small space.

Clear the table before eating: Devote the space to dining by removing remote controls, magazines, etc.
Set the table: Use placemats, cloth napkins, nice dishes, even candles or flowers.
Use floor cushions: Personally, I’m fine without cushions, but they can make sitting on the floor more comfortable, especially for guests.
Don’t watch television: Sitting right in front of the TV, it can be tempting to turn it on, and sometimes we do. But keeping it off helps us to better enjoy our food and company.
Clear the table after eating: This is good advice for any table, not just the coffee table, but especially important to restore the space from “dining room” to “living room.”

Do you eat at your coffee table, either out of necessity or choice? Do you love it, hate it, have any advice?

(Image: Gregory Han)