Why 7 Families Ditched the Dining Room

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 7 ways real families have converted their dining spaces.

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  1. Literary Pursuits


    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.

    Related:  11 "Novel" Ways to Design a Home Library

    Design: Michael Fullen Design; Photo: Karyn Millet

  2. 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, as the couple behind the blog Duo Ventures did in their dining room conversion. 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.

    Related:  10 Tips for Creating a Home Office That Works for You


  3. Nursery Nook


    Babies may be tiny (and adorable), but let’s face it: They're not so tiny when you consider the crib, changing table, heaps of clothing, and mounds of toys that come 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, the family at Up With Joy simply moved in a few tall bookshelves—outfitted with bins for onesies and the like—to separate the nursery from the living area just on the other side.

    Related:  Divide and Conquer—14 Room Dividers to Bring Order to Your Space


  4. 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!

    Kerrie L. Kelly

  5. The Family That Plays Together


    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.

    Design: Gast Architects; Photo: Paul Dyer Photography

  6. Kids at Play


    The Anderson Crew 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, brought in sliding drawer storage for supplies, and hung three easels on the wall to encourage the mini Picassos.

    Related:  15 DIY Storage Ideas to Help Corral Your Kids' Clutter


  7. Let's Get Physical


    Why sign up at a gym when you can roll out of bed and work out instead? Homeowner Mallory Dubuclet converted an underutilized dining room into an fitness room by laying foam mat over the flooring, attaching TRX straps, and bringing in free weights and other workout equipment. Now the at-home setup offers the perfect excuse to enjoy the room's view more than ever. 

    Related: Design a Home Gym


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