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The Dining Nook  
  • Create a niche. Though nothing more than an extension of the living room, this corner—defined by graphic, leaf-patterned wallpaper—stands all on its own.
  • Forgo doors. An open archway between the dining area and the kitchen prevents both rooms from feeling boxy and broken up—especially since they share the same wooden flooring.
  • Invest in smart design. Scored from a private antiques dealer, this set of '60s Danish string-back chairs slides neatly under the round table.
  • Stay flexible. Unlike a cumbersome sideboard, Amy's delicate bamboo bar cart can be wheeled closer or completely out of the way.
  • Stretch out. Positioning the black felt rug on the diagonal, Lauren says, emphasizes the alcove's longest axis and "creates a different point for the eye to go to, rather than from left to right or front to back."
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