by Caylin Harris
Formal dining rooms are starting to go the way of the formal living room—out of service. While many homes have dining rooms, the square footage devoted to them often isn’t justified by the little use most families get out of them. And who wants to waste that much space? Instead of letting an entire room become a black hole for clutter, get inspired by these seven ways real families have converted their dining spaces.
Photo: Karyn Millet; Design: Michael Fullen Design
Avid readers, rejoice! We’ve found a home for all those boxes of books that are collecting dust in your attics. The Michael Fullen Design Group added floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to this family dining room to double its usefulness and create the perfect reading nook.
All in the Details
Why simply work at the dining room table when you can claim the whole space as your office? Fill in with inspirational accents to get your creative juices flowing. And, most important, stock up on storage for office supplies and files—less visual clutter means less need for a door to separate the office mess from the rest of the house.
Babies may be tiny (and adorable), but let’s face it: There are lots of necessities and toys that seem to come along with them. While you’re trying to decide whether or not to look for that bigger house, you can set up the nursery in your former dining space. Here, a few tall bookshelves—outfitted with storage bins— separate the nursery from the living area just on the other side.
Be Our Guest
Big or small, all rooms can benefit from the inclusion of a few small-space solutions. Interior designer Kerrie L. Kelly made this dining room convertible by introducing a Murphy bed. One weekend, the well-appointed room serves as guest quarters; the next, with the bed all tucked away, it hosts a dinner party—genius!
Related: 10 Ways to Welcome a House Guest
The Family That Plays Together
Photo: Paul Dyer Photography; Design: Gast Architects
Giving everyone a place to hang out is easier than it might seem—simply swap out the formal for something more casual. Take Gast Architects’ lead and mount a flat-screen on one wall in your unused dining room, then replace your stiff dining set with a comfy couch. Enhance the space with custom-built wall storage, and you’ve got a cozy spot to unwind with an impromptu movie night.
Related: 9 Ways to Make Your TV Look at Home
Kids at Play
This family has a house full of little ones, which means they have less need for formal dinners and more for space in which the family can let loose and be creative. Their light bulb idea: Transform the dining space into a playroom. Here, they have swapped a large family table for the kiddie one, and hung three easels on the wall to encourage the mini Picassos.