Brooke, who has been living in her split-level home for about 3 years, wrote in…….
“………..But now we’re expecting our first little one this summer and think we need to change the function of this room from only dining to more of a casual family room. You’ll see it semi-opens into our kitchen. Our current main family room is ‘downstairs’. It’s great and large and we love it but I am fearful that with a little one on the way, I will want them up with me while cooking, etc. Hence our design dilemma…
How do we transform this space into a kid-friendly family room, PACKED with storage and function?!”
Before I dove in to brainstorming ideas to convert this dining room into a living space, I sort of quizzed Brooke to make sure this was something she really wanted to do. I think often times, at least in my own personal experience, we think that bringing babies/children into a home means having to completely transform our spaces to accommodate those tiny humans. When in reality children grow pretty quickly and making room for baby doesn’t necessarily mean we have to engage in a total house overhaul.
However after a more thorough discussion Brooke explained that giving up her dining room wouldn’t mean giving up a dining space all together. She has a more casual eat-in area in her adjoining kitchen, and for the most part her and her husband enjoy entertaining large parties in their beautiful backyard. So giving up her “formal” dining room wouldn’t really be a sacrifice so much as it would just better suit their lifestyle.
Okay, game on!
Dining to Living Room Conversion
The truth is more and more families are opting to ditch their formal dining spaces. People no longer see the point of having a space in their homes primarily dedicated to holiday entertaining. As soon as Brooke mentioned that she’d not only like to make this space more of a living space but would also like to add storage, I immediately thought of Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick, who transformed her dining room into a gorgeous conversation area with a built-in bookcase wall.
With cabinets on the bottom and shelves built around the window, Brooke’s room will immediately feel and look much larger. Plus this will add tons of functional storage without taking up much square footage.
- A wall of built-in bookcases around the window will add storage and architectural beauty. I love the way Sarah did hers with a stained wood top on the cabinets, and I think that style would work great in Brooke’s home.
- Four of these sconces across the top of the cabinets will add ambiance and a custom look.
- An area rug will add texture while also grounding the conversation area.
- Two of these chairs in front of the bookcase will be comfortable and bring in a dose of pattern. A large-scale pattern is super family friendly as it tends to disguise any stains. 😉
- An acrylic coffee table adds function without the heavy weight of a table. It’s also easy to keep clean and pretty kid-friendly without being an eyesore.
- Two leather poufs on the other side of the coffee table will provide extra seating. Since this space is open to the foyer I don’t think Brooke will want to close the space off by having seating backed up to the entry. Using poufs in lieu of chairs keeps the room open yet provides the function of seating. And they’re lightweight, so they can be moved around the room as needed.
With this room being one of the first spaces you see when you enter Brooke’s home I think it’s important to create a space that that works for the whole family but doesn’t look overly kid-centric. And I really don’t think you have to sacrifice form in order to make a space kid-friendly. Cabinets on the lower half of the bookcases can host a slew of baby-related items and later all kinds of toys. But comfy reading chairs and a beautiful space will be a welcome respite for Brooke and her husband for years to come.
In the Meantime
If built-in bookcases isn’t in the budget just yet, I think they could easily bring in a couple of inexpensive bookshelves to flank the window on that wall in the meantime.
What are your thoughts? Would you ever consider converting your formal dining room into a living space? We haven’t had a formal dining room since we moved to Charleston almost 2 years ago. And I have to say I haven’t missed having one.
Got a Design Dilemma?
If you have a design dilemma and you’d like me to help you brainstorm ideas feel free to send me an email at Carmel@ourfifthhouse.com with “design dilemma” in the subject line. I’d love to help you get your creative design juices flowing!