Impress your guests. Marble is a big investment but without exception marble dining tables are nearly always showstoppers. Tables crafted from quality imported marble are extremely beautiful. Buy without guilt if you truly fall in love with one – marble's timeless appeal will make it a table that is always in fashion – but do be aware that a marble tabletop comes with a couple of drawbacks. First marble tables of any kind are bulky and heavy. Second they have to be well looked after as the marble can crack and stain. To overcome these limitations to buying a marble table as a forever piece choose a small round table which is a lighter choice than most rectangular ones while still being able to seat four to six guests. To avoid stains keep the table cleared and clean at all times covering it with a tablecloth or placemats when red wine and foods that can damage marble are on the menu.
Corner nook. Custom woodwork and banquette seating can create a sophisticated corner nook in the kitchen. In this L‐shaped arrangement the wood grain of the built‐in banquette is matched to the kitchen countertops and complemented by a white table and cabinets. To add color and interest it has been decorated with a variety of flea market finds.
Mod seating and fairy‐tale pendant light. Sleek smooth mod plastic chairs create a dynamic counterpoint to an intricate whimsical pendant light here. Sticking with white for the chairs and light fixture keeps this kitchen (with its pink cabinets) from veering into too‐sweet territory.
Smoky glass chandelier. Smoky glass paired with filament bulbs creates a one‐two ambience punch that is ideal for intimate dinner parties. In the dining space shown here the sculptural chandelier is complemented by a smooth walnut dining table and midcentury teak chairs.
Café table and invisible chairs. This itty‐bitty seating area proves that even truly tiny spaces don't need to sacrifice style. Seek out the smallest sleekest café table you can find and place a pair of clear chairs (made from acrylic or Lucite) around it. Style it up between meals with a cute fruit bowl.
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.
Garden fresh. Children's colorful artwork has been framed and hung to personalize this charming nook. This is a great idea for families especially when a kitchen nook is also used as a homework and craft center. Installing a small U‐shaped nook is a clever way to divide a kitchen with a generous expanse of floor. Take advantage of the extra room and install a nook big enough to accommodate plenty of dinner party guests.
Select a dining table made of sturdy stuff. If you want a table to last through years of dinner party wear and tear choose a table made from a hardwood such as mahogany walnut maple oak and teak. Tables made from engineered or composite woods which include plywoods and MDF are durable and economical but are never as strong as a hardwood.