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The Formal Dining Room …  nobody lives here

I have been in many homes and I often hear the same story, “Oh, that’s our formal dining room, we only use it for holidays.” It’s always the same, a big dining table covered in a formal tablecloth, big chairs and a hutch.   There are always a few random items on the table …  a broken curling iron, dog toy, old mail, a lunch box from last year and maybe a Christmas ornament that hasn’t made its way downstairs after rolling out from under the sofa.  

But all I see is a huge piece of unused real estate!  Think about the size of our homes.  We should be utilizing all of our spaces for all of our needs all of the time. This space needs to be reimagined.  But, if we reimagine it, can it still be used for the holidays? Yes, it can, with just a little effort.  The flipside of that is 50 weeks of using that space with purpose.  Note:  This also works if your home has a “formal living room” that is not used.

If you only use that dining table for holidays, let it go.  Instead purchase banquet tables/chairs from Sam’s Club or Costco.  These tables are useful indoors and outdoors for parties and events.  You will use them for years to come.  They store nicely in the garage or basement.  They look wonderful with tablecloths, serving plates and décor.

When our girls were young, we made our dining room into a playroom/roller rink.  They had those clunky plastic skates and they would circle round and round with their little legs and it was loud and wonderful.  We live in an older home, without an open concept, so having a playroom next to the kitchen allowed me to see them while I was cooking. Now, years later, our dining room houses my small office and a dining table that is used at holidays, but it is also our puzzle table in the Winter and sometimes a Gaming table and a cat bed if the sun is shining brightly.

A dining room space can be broken up into pieces by using an area rug or strategically placing the furniture.  Here are some ideas:

  • A Home office or even 2 home offices 
  • A homework room with a table for each child to make their own (turn that hutch into a bookshelf)
  • Game room (use the hutch to store games and puzzles)
  • A lovely quiet reading space with comfy chairs, rug and side tables – turn the hutch into a coffee center/book area and some décor
  • Craft/art center or playroom
  • A room for having friends over to talk – a small bar or coffee area and comfy chairs for good conversation
  • Fencing practice – ha!  Well maybe …   depends what your family enjoys doing

The key is to make it your own and use it.  And of course, if you need help reimagining and/or organizing any of your spaces, Midwest Organizing is here for you!    

The Formal Dining Room