Recently I did some space planning for "empty nester" clients. Their kids had all moved out, but still return for family dinners and special occasions. That’s all fine, but the "family" has gotten larger with the addition of spouses and grandchildren. It has become increasingly difficult to accommodate everyone at the same table for dinner. Sound familiar?
The Problem: Small Dining Room
For these clients, the enjoyment of having everyone at the same table was a "must". Ideally they wanted to be able to seat 16 people comfortably. The problem was that their current dining room was an enclosed room of about 10.5 x 12.5 feet with no potential for expansion. At the most, they were able to fit 12 people very snugly into this room with the addition of two table extension leaves and extra chairs. There was very little space left to walk around the table. The "kids" (not so little anymore) were relegated to the kitchen table.
The Solution: Re-purposed Family Room
On the opposite side of the house was the family room measuring 10.5 x 16.5 feet. Adjacent to the family room was the living room which was used only for entertaining. Can you see where I’m going with this? Here is the case I made to my clients for moving the dining room function into the family room.
1. The family room is no longer needed for its original function as a family gathering space since the clients had become empty nesters.
2. The family room is located off the kitchen, so the proximity for ease of serving food is the same as the dining room.
7. Furniture: Investigate getting another extension leaf made for your existing table or upgrade to a new one of the appropriate size. If purchasing new furniture, consider slightly narrower chairs. Remember, extra dining chairs can be scattered around the house to replace desk or bedroom chairs.
8. Draperies: Install new floor to ceiling draperies for windows or sliding glass doors.
9. Mirror: Add a stylish mirror over the fireplace to add sparkle and reflect the chandelier. If you have a china cabinet, install mirror behind the shelves.
10. Art & Accessories: Add a large piece of art opposite the fireplace or a large grouping of smaller frames. Add a table runner, a floral centrepiece, candles and voila – a fabulous new dining room!
It’s never easy to make the decision to shake things up in your home. But it can be very rewarding and even exciting. However, it does take some planning and budgeting. And of course, when considering any renovation, the age-old question inevitably comes up as to how it could affect the resale value of your home. So you may want to contact a real estate agent in your area. On the other hand, if you are not planning to sell your home, why not make it work for you?
These suggestions are intended as a general guideline to specifically convert a family room into a dining room, thus making better use of available space.