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Feb 6, 2012 01:14 PM

Dinner for 6, when the table seats 4 and it's a small home

I'd like to start hosting casual dinner parties for friends. My small living space has prevented me from doing so in the past, but I'm over it and want to get creative with my seating and enjoy good food and the company of others!

My living room/dining room are one rectangular room. One one side is my dining room table and the other side is the living room space.

In the dining room area I have a 40"x 40" bar-height table that seats 4.

While composing this thread, I thought of 3 options... and would welcome more!

I have had larger, casual parties in this same space and I've figured those out... but what I'm going for is a seated, dinner party type event.

Option A:
I have two bar stools (with no back) that I've used in a pinch (these get put on the corners) and DH and I take those seats.

My question is: if you were a guest, would you find this to be too cramped?

Option B:
Reconfigure my living room/dining room space. Move the sofa from the middle of the room (it acts as a 'divider' between the two rooms to the dining room space. Setup a 6 ft table in the living room space. I did this with two six-foot tables this past Thanksgiving. One end had to be against the wall so it would fit and I was able to seat eight. This option is not ideal in my mind, because it disrupts my post-dinner hanging out space.

Option C:
Move my 40" x 40" table out of the dining space, and put a 6ft table in this space (I'm not entirely sure it would work lengthwise - one end might need to be against the wall). I would have to disassemble the existing table to get it to the garage (it doesn't fit through the doorway) and perhaps rent nicer chairs or get chair cushions (I have metal folding chairs). (Disassembling the table is least appealing.)

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  1. I like Option B, but ultimately, I'd look to replace the bar-height table with a regular, expandable dining table. I see those tall, square tables suitable for playing cards. We have friends that have that height table, but much larger. The guy is big, and likes to bake, so maybe that's why he likes it, but I find it uncomfortable when dining there. Maybe it's just me. I prefer having my feet touch the floor.
    As far as post-dinner hang-out, if it's a nice meal, and folks are enjoying themselves, I don't really see a problem with that. But, I understand. Do you have outdoor space that would be suitable for this time of year?

    2 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      Unfortunately, the outdoor space is just as cramped as the indoor space! ...oh, how I wish for a larger home! (one day!)

      Thanks for your feedback - it is helpful (especially the part about preferring to sit at a standard table!)

      1. re: wyogal

        I actually prefer a bar type table...mine is four person but it has a built in that enlarges it to 6 to eight in less than a minute.

      2. OK, I'll be the Elephant in the room.

        In all listed options, as a guest I would feel uncomfortable, a size 10 trying or forced into a size 6.
        Do well in what you have and if you wish to expand, do more often select small dinners or ask a guest with larger quarters, if they would allow you to host (shop,set up clean up, no nothing but provide the space).

        Or! Wait for it...literally, NICE weather! Then you can do a larger gathering in a space in a park or other location.

        But please do not let your desire to "expand and get creative" make your guest feel like folks on a Japanese subway at peak traffic hours!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          I definitely want my guests to feel comfortable. I have shied away from hosting for lack of figuring it out (with the exception of one particular group of close friends who I know don't mind the cozy). Thank you for the input!

          1. re: The Oracle

            I think most people are happy to be invited and (if you don't over apologize) won't think anything is wrong with a cozy space. And definitely, keep the guests mind. Guests with different age/mobility issues may requre certain seating for comfort. But most people I know are just thrilled to be invited. There's something special about being included in someone's home as opposed to a park - but there is a place for both. I just think a home is more intimate, especially when it's not "perfect" because of space, decor, whatever. It frees your guests up to be real with you, too.

            I do think co-hosting with a friend (they provide place you do everying else) is a great idea!

        2. I think dinners can be funny when they are very cozy. I was recently at a dinner party where 12 were fit around a table that was really for 8. Yes, it was tight but everyone got friendly quickly and had a great night. I too, however, would prefer a regular height table, even though I am close to 6'.

          1. makes the meal more comfortable and it isn't an issue to hang out at the table with some great wine. We used to reconfigure our living room and dining room spaces every dinner party until we just gave up and permanently switched the two rooms out. I wouldn't disassemble the table and haul it to the garage, but that's just me.
            Now I had a friend who used to have dinner parties in a small small room, and she'd take the legs off the table, set it on the floor, and put cushions out for eating and lounging. Of course, this was paired with more casual appropriate meals. She really liked it, and heck, I was what, 20 back then? Today at my ripe elderly age, it isn't quite as appealing.
            You know, at some point if you want to host these kinds of dinners, a new table might be in order?

            1 Reply
            1. re: freia

              I don't want to disassemble the beast of a table either! But, I think that really is the best option for a regular height table (short of getting another table).

              I used to attend some of those 'sit on the floor/cushion type' dinners - those appeal to me far less than sitting on a bar-height table!

              A new home, is actually in order ;) but, will take a few more years of saving up before that comes to fruition.

            2. I don't know if your space would allow for this, but it's an idea...
              Friends have a table that seats 8 comfortably, 10 if everyone gets cozy. But, the room is large enough to allow for a bigger table. They had a piece of plywood cut to sit on top of their table to make it bigger. They had it cut with rounded corners. Actually, it may be 2 pieces of plywood that fit together and allow for easier storage... not sure about that. They put a table pad under the plywood and another over, then cover with a cloth. The plywood is both wider and longer than the table. With it in place, they can easily seat 12... 2 on each end and 5 down each side. Perhaps you could do something like this, to allow more room for your two extra stools?

              8 Replies
              1. re: onrushpam

                My inlaws do this for Christmas dinner/Christmas in July - they make their 6 seater table seat 12 or even more - works like a charm.

                1. re: onrushpam

                  Thank you for the idea! I'd be SO paranoid of it tipping, though!!

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    Get the plywood cut in a circle 58-60 inches in diameter. This will be just slightly bigger than the diagonal of your square table (56.57) so shouldn't be in danger of tipping.

                    1. re: mojoeater

                      Especially with everything on it... a heavy centerpiece!

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        I think the plywood circle is a brilliant idea. Less tippy than a rectangle and circles are always good for conversation.

                        Failing that, I'm a fan of inexpensive long card tables. And if you don't have the right table cloths, fabric stores are fun: just find the cheapest liner fabric they have to cover the table and dangle way down over the not-so-attractive legs. No need to sew, just cut w/ scissors to fit. The buy a small quantity of luxurious fabric for a table runner (or circle). You can toss it all when you're done, or possibly wash it and re-cut the frayed edges before using it again.

                        1. re: mojoeater

                          Of course! a circle - absolutely brilliant!!!!

                          1. re: mojoeater

                            My parents used to do that, a large one, cut in half and attached by hinges. It takes up much less space for storage.

                        2. re: onrushpam

                          That was my first thought, too. Maybe a longer rectangle, maybe round just larger than the diagonal of the current table (not sure if that would be too big around - my quick math puts it at just under 60")?