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What went wrong attempting a cozy dining nook?

4 years ago

I moved in a year ago w/ my longtime bachelor partner. He always ate at the kitchen island, which is fine. But I wanted to create a dining area that would be inviting for a few guests.

We have a small home, and the only option was to use an empty area in a room that connects the kitchen to the living room--it's kind of in between a room and a giant hallway, with a sloped wooden ceiling and a west-facing window.

I got a rug, wooden table, rattan settee, cute steel shelf, and clay bead chandelier ... but it somehow feels sad and uninviting to us. We almost never use it, either ourselves or with guests (which still hang around the kitchen island). What can I do to make it feel warmer and like a more self-contained area? It's to the left, below--this is the view looking in from the kitchen. (Today is laundry day--normally the table is clear. The folding treadmill sucks but there's literally no other place in the house for it.)

We have a very low budget for home decor at this point, but should I save to slowly replace the mismatched chairs with cozier padded ones? We live in South Africa and need a way to block people from seeing in the window, so no window-covering isn't an option. But would a bamboo blind be better than curtains? Is there anything I can do to improve the lighting?

And what about the far wall--should I paint it an accent color like teal or red, or wallpaper it with leafy wallpaper or something fun like yellow chalk stripes?

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