Any room that’s known for its food holds a special place in our heart. But dining rooms are so much more than just a place to chow down. They’re often the central gathering spot in the home, whether you’re entertaining guests or just sharing a morning coffee. And gone are the days when you needed a big cavernous room solely dedicated to your dining table; with just a little bit of creativity, we can carve out a small footprint in your apartment or open-concept space to create the perfect dining nook.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before — but it’s always a good idea to start simple. Not every dining table needs six candle holders, a decorative runner, or a big trivet. The same goes for the rest of your room. As much as we might romanticize the idea of a vintage cabinet in the corner, it’s often smarter to save some space for the sake of traffic flow as well as spatial balance.

Always start with the essentials. A great table set with a few chairs or stools (and maybe a nice accent piece or bar cart for cocktail hour) can instantly feel robust and modern without any dressing up. It also keeps the emphasis on what you’re eating and who you’re enjoying it with, creating a more personal and intimate feel.