We live in a world where old routines have been completely upended. In some cases, we’ve learned that old habits weren’t serving our modern needs very well.

We all adapted and developed new daily living habits. Some of us realized that the conventional dining table was no longer practical. Whether due to limited space or changing priorities, it’s time to take a look at some alternatives.

Let’s check out some small space dining options and other ways to change up how and where you eat your meals.


Small Space Dining Tables

If you live in a small apartment or have had your dining area reduced by the introduction of a home office, consider a different type of dining table.

Drop-Leaf Tables

Drop-leaf tables are a mainstay for small dining spaces. Round, square, or rectangular, these tables have one or two fold-down leaves that dramatically reduce their footprint when not in use.

Home Deco Interiors offers the quintessential round drop leaf table, with drops on both sides. You can slide the table against a wall and still eat at either end with the leaves down. Ikea offers a rectangular version with the same function.

If you want something that takes up even less space when you aren’t using it, try this fold-away table from Catskill Craftsmen. It’s like a lovely wood card table that you don’t have to stick behind a door when it’s folded down.

The downside to drop-leaf tables is that they aren’t as useful if you don’t have space to open them. While you can eat at some with the leaves down, it can feel a little cramped.


Bistro Tables

If you’d like a space-saving table that doesn’t need to be moved or adjusted, try a bistro table. These small dining tables are perfect for two and can be tucked into a corner.

This is the type of table you frequently see at outdoor cafes. They can be short or tall, round or square. They often have a pedestal base for easy, small space seating. Wayfair has an enormous selection of indoor bistro tables, in every imaginable style and configuration.


Clever, Space Saving Tables

You can also find dining tables with all sorts of clever, space-saving details. If chairs all over the place are your problem, take a look at this cafeteria table from World Market. The built-in stools swing under the table when not in use.

Would you rather have a multi-functional table that doubles as storage? Check out this Ebern Designs table at Wayfair. Not only does it have a leaf that drops down, but it also has storage shelves along one side. Pull the leaf up and you have a breakfast bar.

You’ll also find rotating tables, expandable tables, rectangular tables that become square tables, and much more. Anything that relies on expanding to be useful may require more space than you have.


Alternative Dining Options

You don’t need to eat every meal at a dining table. You don’t need to eat any meals at a dining table if that’s what you choose. Modern dining calls for modern flexibility.


Lap Trays

Just as you enjoy using a lap desk to take your work to the most comfortable possible spot, Rossie Home® has a lap tray for dining. Of course, it’s useful for all sorts of other things, but let’s stick with meals.

One of the most fun and convenient ways to eat a meal is on our Buffalo Check Lap Tray. These cute, convenient lap trays have a black wood top and a buffalo check lap cushion. They come in a set of two with a decorative natural water hyacinth basket for storage and display when not in use.

Each tray has a generously sized surface and built-in handles. The front of the tray is lowered for easy eating that still keeps your plate on the tray. Another fantastic feature is the detachable cushion with a machine washable cover. Yep, everybody spills once in a while.

With the cushion off, you can also use the trays for serving.

These lap trays are ideal for small-space and alternative dining. They look great, both when you’re using them and in their basket. They take up almost no space and they allow you to eat wherever you choose. Breakfast in bed is nice. Dinner on the couch is great. Lunch on the sunny porch is fantastic.

If you’re short on space, you won’t find a more practical alternative dining surface.


Convertible Coffee Tables

Another option if you want to eat outside the kitchen or dining room is a convertible coffee table. These clever designs have a lifting top that allows you to turn them from ordinary coffee tables into work or dining tables.

If you’re shopping for a lift-top coffee table, make sure you check the lifting mechanism. You want to be sure it’s easy to lift and sturdy. The last thing you need is the top deciding on its own to return to its resting position.

Pottery Barn sells a cool reclaimed wood version with styling versatile enough for most décor. If you’d like something a little sleeker, check out this version from Tribesigns.

Convertible coffee tables, sometimes called pop-up coffee tables, usually have lots of storage and turn your living room into a dining room (or workspace) in a snap.

The downside to using your coffee table as your dining table is that you’ll be stuck eating all your meals in the living room.


Choose Your Dining Style

There are a lot of different options for comfortable dining in small spaces. There are even more if you’d simply like to add some variety to where you eat your meals. You can find practical, versatile tables, convertible coffee tables, and of course our portable lap trays.

Dining is no longer defined by the conventional dining table. Do some experimenting and find the modern options that work for your modern lifestyle. Embrace our new culture of flexibility with alternative dining solutions.