Different chairs at the ends. The end chairs don't need to be upholstered to be different – a pair in a style that's different from the rest is all you need to mix things up. Here café chairs are on the long sides of the table and beautiful cane‐back side chairs are at the ends.
The deep blue walls are upholstered in a Romo fabric complete with soft batting behind it. The upholstery nails were put in by hand and match the nails on the chairs and bench. Their satin nickel finish picks up on the other finishes in the kitchen.
Wood is tops but don't discount glass. The advantage of a glass‐top dining table is that it works well with many decor themes. And because it has a reflective surface it is an excellent choice for a space that might need to look a little lighter and brighter. Glass dining tables are tough too. Today's versions are made with tempered safety glass which means the glass resists scratches and heat and won't shatter if knocked. You can also choose glass that is tinted in a range of different colors even black. Another benefit of a glass table is that you can surround it with versatile seating arrangements from mismatched dining chairs to multicolored options.
Bump‐out table and globe light. A waterfall‐edge table attached to the wall takes up little floor space yet has a big presence. Hanging a simple pendant light directly over the table focuses attention on the area and provides a warmer glow than the regular kitchen lighting.
Same chairs different upholstery (or seat cushions). Another way to mix up a set of matching chairs is to re‐cover the seats in an array of different fabrics. Or for nonupholstered wooden chairs simply add fresh seat cushions in a pleasing range of colors and patterns.
Bench on one side chairs on the other. Putting a low bench on one side of the dining table in place of chairs is an easy way to break up a set typically costs less than buying individual chairs and is great for small spaces. Try an upholstered bench for comfort during leisurely meals or a wooden bench for a sleeker look.
Swing‐arm sconce. A swing‐arm sconce designed to extend over the table (like the one shown here) is an unexpected alternative to the traditional chandelier and can work even for renters if you choose a plug‐in version. Because the bulb is exposed you'll need to use a lower‐watt filament bulb to create that lovely soft glow. But because one low‐watt bulb is not enough to light a room on its own it is necessary to supplement with additional lighting – try a second sconce or a pair of lamps atop a credenza.
First‐class compartment. In keeping with the warm minimalist elements featured elsewhere in this California ranch house this nook has cedar ceilings Sheetrock walls exposed timber framing and structural steel windows. The site for the house is edged with mature evergreen trees and opens to a field with views out to the Pacific Ocean. With its panoramic‐size window and glorious outlook to a countryside vista this sleek dine‐in nook is a stylish way to eat at home.