14 Ways to Pull Off a Double-Duty Dining Room

The dining room is often an extra space that gets used only for holidays or special occasions. But if you're plagued by small square footage—or if you're trying to make your house more functional overall—then this dedicated eating area may be eating up precious space. Never again have to sacrifice one room for another with these 14 ideas for making your dining room work doubly well.

  1. Pull Up a Chair

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    Slide 1

    Zillow Digs home in Skokie, IL

    If your dining room and kitchen share a wall, consider using (or building) a pass-through that can put in some serious overtime. Just pull up a few barstools to create an eat-in breakfast bar, perfect for extra seating for large gatherings, casual weeknight meals with the family, or just a little cozy relaxation after cooking.


    Related: 13 Seriously Doable Ways to DIY a Kitchen Table

  2. Use Furniture Wisely

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    Living room dining room

    ikea.com

    Open-shelf bookcases are an instant, easy-on-the-wallet way to create two rooms from one, as demonstrated by this cheery dining-slash-living room. Two area rugs and a cool pendant light fixture help define the separate spaces, while the eye-popping wall color ties it all together with amazing style.


    Related: Buy or DIY: 10 Room Dividers to Remake Your Space

  3. Don't Waste Wall Space

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    Dining room library

    emilyaclark.com

    Don't let your dining room's blank walls go to waste. Instead, use them as an opportunity to incorporate a home library. Whether you spring for built-ins or simply mimic the look with a few freestanding bookcases, you'll love the amped up storage and style that comes with this space-smart trick.


    Related: 10 Novel DIYs for a Better Bookshelf

  4. Combine and Conquer

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    Dining room craft

    theidearoom.net

    So often the dining room just collects dust from January through November. Rather than letting it lie fallow, use it for other activities that don't have their own area. Here, a home office and craft station team up with the dining room to create a three-in-one space that easily adapts to the present need. Cabinets sneakily stash supplies, while vibrant yellow accessories throughout ensure a cohesive feel. 


    Related: 8 Organizers for the Little Stuff You Always Lose

  5. Merge Dinner and Drinks

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    Double duty dining room   bar

    houzz.com; photographer: Eric Craton, Highlight Homes Architectural Photography; designer: mandmquality.com

    Cheers to this clever idea that makes the most of every inch of space in the dining room. Cabinets store spare dishes and serving ware, while built-in fridges and wine storage racks keep beverages cold and close at hand. 


    Related: 17 DIY Mini Bars to Mix Up Your Home Decor

  6. Coordinate Colors and Finishes

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    Music room

    hisugarplumsblog.com

    A small piano makes the most of an awkward corner in this boldly decorated eating space, ensuring that this family's limited square footage won't stop the music. The trick to making everything copacetic? The upholstered bench, similar furniture styles, and red-painted accents throughout, which lend a high-end look with unique charm. 


    Related: Multiple Personalities: 10 Fantastically Flexible Spaces in Today's Home

  7. Display Storage as Decor

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    Slide 7

    abeautifulmess.com

    Practical storage doubles as wall art in this ingenious DIY dining room idea. To re-create the look in your home, start by brushing chalkboard paint onto inexpensive pegboard. Then, plan your layout—here, the wall holds cookware and utensils, but you could also display hats, baskets, or just about any collection you can imagine. This solutions lets you hook up your kitchen extras for a practically free way to make practical use of every inch of dining room space. 


    Related: 9 Ways to Get on Board with Pegboard

  8. Disguise Functional Details

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    Double duty dining room   mudroom

    housetweaking.com

    In an astounding feat of multitasking design, this room serves as an entryway, laundry room, and dining space—and it looks gorgeous too. At one end, curtains and cabinets hide laundry essentials, while on the opposite end, roomy wardrobes stow coats and gear. The natural textures and black-and-white palette keep the space looking sharp.


    Related: 17 Design Inspirations for Mudrooms and Entryways

  9. Swap Utensils for School Supplies

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    Double duty dining toom   homeschool room

    thehandmadehome.net

    This dining room works double time as a gathering space and charming homeschool room. Here, the centerpiece holds writing utensils, while the shelves host educational materials. Both, however, could easily be swapped for utensils or floral arrangements when company calls, making this a truly multifunctional space.


    Related: 10 Reasons to Go Crazy for Chalkboard Paint

  10. Decorate with Convertible Furniture

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    Double duty dining room   convertible furniture

    fusiontables.com

    The key to a truly multifunctional dining room is convertible furniture. To create a space worthy of a James Bond film, consider this slick dining table with a twist: Its top slides back to reveal a full pool table. Rack up a game or two, then store the cues and balls inside when it’s time to dine.


    Related: Double-Duty Furniture: 9 Affordable Favorites That Save Space

  11. Make Dinner Fun Again

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    Double duty dining room   playroom

    landofnod.com

    When you think about it, this combination playroom/dining room makes a lot of sense—both playing and eating involve family members enjoying good times together. The formula for success? Stick to simple white walls (no cartoony painted murals), choose storage that can double as a buffet surface, and select durable, good-looking furniture that works equally well whether dressed up or messed up.


    Related: Too Many Toys? 13 Easy DIY Storage Ideas for the Whole House

  12. Opt for an Open Floor Plan

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    Dining room kitchen

    fotosearch.com

    The move toward an open kitchen has been one of the biggest trends in home design over the last decade, and with good reason. Knocking out the kitchen wall provided this homeowner plenty of room for cooking, ample space for dining, and a more airy and welcoming interior. This type of renovation can often be done at a surprisingly reasonable cost—and can completely transform the way you use your home.


    Related: 11 Big Ideas for a Small Dining Room

  13. Mix Work with Pleasure

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    Double duty dining room   multipurpose

    akadesign.com

    With no other spot in the house for a home office, this crafty homeowner carved out space in her dining room for a sweetly organized workstation. To maintain the ambience of the eating space, she stuck with a clean color palette—white, neutrals, and just a splash of blue—and keeps clutter and papers hidden from sight in simple boxes.


    Related: 10 Space-Smart Ways to Squeeze In a Home Office

  14. Sip and Sit

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    Slide 2

    Zillow Digs home in Tega Cay, SC

    If you're working within an open floor plan, harness the free space to squeeze in as many zones as possible. Here, the dining area is bordered by a cozy couch—the perfect landing spot for enjoying a good book or postprandial glass of wine. Matching upholstery on the chairs and sofa tie the look together, while an area rug helps distinguish one section from the other.


    Related: Own Your Open Floor Plan with 8 Smart Design Tricks

  15. See the House of the Week

    Hotw600x450

    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!