Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Got the Dining Room Blues...

So yesterday I asked for feedback from readers: Do you use your dining room for its intended purpose? I received great comments on the blog and on Facebook as well. We have some people who use it, some who don't, some who have never had a formal dining room. Each day this week I would like to highlight a different way to use your dining room to make it work for you and your family. Today's alternative dining plan is a home office. Often, a spare bedroom works great as a office/study. Then one child comes along, then another, then suddenly your husband is crying because you are making him take down his collection of Star Wars figurines and movie posters and pack them up to make room for baby number three. Eventually, the bedrooms have to be used as bedrooms, not guest rooms, not offices, not "man rooms", not fitness rooms. Where does everything else go??? Well, the thigh master and the Star Wars figurines may go in the next garage sale, and now you are desperately hunting for spare square footage to repurpose. Now the dining room that has set empty or unused for 6 years is starting to look pretty appealing...Even if you are not willing to completely convert your dining space to serve another purpose, there are great ways to make it do double duty! You can even keep the traditional look and feel of a dining room!
This dining room has built in's that hide all of the unsightly office gear. The dining table makes a great workspace to spread out large projects. www.marthastewart.com
This large china hutch visually holds true to the style of a dining room, but serves as a bookcase instead. I think mixing books and serving pieces together in one cabinet is perfectly interesting and practical! If you are not a fine china owner, hutches like this can still be useful. Search for great finds at local secondhand shops, antique malls, and online sources such as craigslist. www.housebeautiful.com
Are you a book collector? My husband is; and he is proud of his books! Show them off by turning your dining room into a library. I love the juxtaposition of the traditional table with the super modern chairs. This dining room would be a cozy retreat for rainy day reading or an intimate dinner party. www.sohautestyle.com
This home office can still serve as extra seating when needed! paloma81.blogspot.com
Another super traditional hybrid. egeriaswell.tumblr.com
If you have no need for extra dining space, go all the way with a full blown office. French doors are a great way to allow a space to feel open when you want it to, and then more private when you need it to be.
For a sense of continuity and to really make your new home office feel as if it were meant to be there, keep your colors and design style consistent with the rest of your living space. This is especially important if you have a very open floor plan. Newer homes tend to have more open dining rooms, older homes like ranch style houses tend to have more closed off spaces. If you do have a more closed off dining room, this may work to your advantage if you want to use the space for something else like a home office.
Let's recap: If you want to maximize your square footage and need a home office, consider combining your formal dining room and study. You can use furniture pieces originally designed for dining rooms to store office components such as china hutches, built in cabinets, and buffets. Dining tables can be utilized as work spaces and project tables on a daily basis and then jazzed up for formal dining when needed on those rare special occasions. Adding french doors can create a sense of privacy and serve as a sound barrier when you really need to buckle down and work, but are also visually light enough to keep your space from feeling secluded from the rest of the house when they are open. If you have an extremely open floor plan you can still use your space wisely. Just keep furniture styles and colors consistent with your main living area so that the dining room/office flows seamlessly with the rest of your home. You don't have to sacrifice function for style; you can have both!

No comments: