What do we do with our pesky formal dining room we aren’t going to dine in?

Posted by
I love all the ideas, creativity, and amazing spaces shared on Offbeat Home, which is why when I had a “What exactly do I do with this space?” moment, I knew just who to ask. My husband, doggy, and I moved into a little rental built in 1928 recently. We love the quirks about this home, but are having trouble setting up a transitional space between the living room area and the kitchen.

It’s supposed to be a formal dining room but meh. We want to turn it into a sitting room/extra living space but aren’t sure how. We have an extra love seat in there so far and it just kind of looks awkward, like it needs something else.

How do we turn our pesky formal dining room into a bonus hangout space?


Comments on What do we do with our pesky formal dining room we aren’t going to dine in?

  1. Here is how -I- would do it. Angle the loveseat along the long wall there and put the table in the space that frees up. This will offer a visual hint that this space is hangy-outie. If that’s not a door where the bike is, place a couple armchairs, floor pillows or poufs there, for extra sitting. Even if it IS a door, you could probably put those in either corner near it. A rug beneath all that seating to visually connect it would make it feel more intimate.
    Finally… if you don’t have a designated space for this elsewhere, put your board games, cards and other non-video game things on shelves in this space. If there isn’t a REASON to retire to this space versus the living room, then you won’t use it.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking as well. Whether it be books or board games or laptops, make sure there’s something there to make it a destination spot rather than just random space.

  2. Turn the loveseat a little, so it forms a triangle with the walls behind it, if you want to add this space to the livingroom. And add bookshelves. Lots and lots of bookshelves.

    (Why wouldn’t you want a dining room? I love ours. We eat in front of the TV most nights, but it is great for having friends over, putting the sewing machine on the table or starting other hilarious projects – last month the whole dining room table (which can seat up to ten (slim) people) was covered in my Japanese translation project for a friend’s master thesis – it looked as if the room had been devoured by a pile of paper, and I did not have to move my project for weeks.)

    • I’m LOVING these ideas so thanks! The reason we’re avoiding a dining room is because the kitchen has a sizable dining nook that meets our needs in that department.

  3. With no dining room table, it’s really a transitional space. Big or numerous seats might always be a bit awkward. The corner that the love seat is in now can be turned into a “cafe” nook with that wooden table and one or two cafe chairs. I’d put a corner cabinet or shelf in the corner with the mail/keys and where the small table is now. Is that a door behind the bike? If so, do you use it often? Maybe use the space that we can’t see to the left of that door for mail/shoes etc. If there’s enough space that could be the place to hang the bike vertically for space and ease of use (if you’re going to continue to store it inside). Finally, buy an inexpensive but large area rug (see Ikea Hacker and this site for ideas on how to dress those up with paint, etc) and position it in the room in the direction of the most traffic. Ooh, or a big circle or oval rug- you’ve got a lot of angles, a circle might provide nice contrast. The entry way to the kitchen looks modernly plain- you could add a shelf above it or perhaps just some art or photos to the walls to give that part of the room more visual direction. The arch from the living room is dramatic and lovely as it is.
    Whatever you do, have a great time doing it! What a fun space you have!

  4. I personally would put a table in there and use it for maybe not dining, but craft projects, a place to put food and drink when guests come over etc..

    But if you don’t want that, then I agree that library or game room is a good direction, or you could turn it into the combo breakfast nook/home bar that I always wanted (disclosure: I never got the bar but DAMN IT I HAVE A JAPANESE TEA ROOM). A cafe table or even breakfast bar, a buffet turned into a mini-bar area and a few space-friendly places to sit (high stools with a bartop table for example). Definitely a rug…with that space you could get something totally nuts.

  5. We have an extra room, and in the one closest to the front door, we have the nice couch, the nice coffee table and bookshelves. In the other one, we have the TV, the comfy couch, the crappy coffee table, and our old kitchen table that gets used for crafts and board games

  6. are the walls original plaster or drywall? If it’s drywall (my plaster walls are crumbly bitches), I’d hang a low dropdown tabletop on the wall behind where you’ve currently got your loveseat. Low enough that if you wanted to use it as a workspace, or unexpectedly had people over for dinner or board games you could use your existing loveseat for seating.

  7. Something I’d suggest is actually trying to tie the two together by painting the room the same color – or maybe just one wall. Visually, I think that will help kind of extend the ‘living area idea’ to that space as well.

  8. We had the same problem in our home, and we turned it into a cozy lounge area with a bar – it’s become our favorite room in the house. We wanted to make it inviting so instead of a coffee table, we got a set of 3 round nesting ottomans that can be used as storage, extra seating, or you can flip the top over and use it as a tray, and they are very easy to move around. We had a very small sofa, got a side chair and draped a blanket on it, and an area rug. Was a great way to make it look nice and very usable. Adding the alcohol didn’t hurt, either 😉

  9. The reason why it’s not working right now is because the furniture is ignoring the giant lovely doorway. The previous ideas of angling the couch sounds great! Throw a lamp beind the angle and put up a gallery wall to help fill the awkward space! (3m stickies really work well if you don’t want to punch a bunch of holes in the wall.) Good luck, and share the afters when you’re done! 😀

  10. I’d invest in a nice chair with an ottoman, a rug, and a book shelf. Put up the shelft right next to the comfy chair like it’s a reading nook. Be sure to shelve your board games in there as well. Also, wall art would go a long way. If you don’t have enough books and games, hang a lot of art, throw down a crazy rug, and add a bench or chaise. Then it’s a gallery! Use small furniture so that you can set up a card table and put drinks or finger foods in there, so it becomes the common area to snack when friends are around. You could also get an old buffet, paint it nicely, and turn it into a bar where everyone will mix their drinks. I think it’s going to need a lot of dark and colorful elements to make it feel less sparse. small furniture, but a lot of pow in terms of decor.

  11. We have the same problem in our house! It’s a small 2 bedroom with a living room and a formal dining area. Since we both wanted offices, my fiance has his desk cornered in one area. The rest of the room has been converted into a library with all of our bookshelves, and most of our plants live in that room because of the abundance of natural light. It may not be architecturally astounding, but it works for us.

  12. I love all the ideas above, i would totally go for two chairs/angled loveseat and bookcases myself, but that’s because i have more bookcases than space!
    My real first impression was “NEEDS MOAR ART”, with those lovely big spaces on the walls i could see it becoming a great space to display and enjoy <3

  13. What about other uses? That space would fit a desk perfectly, or maybe a craft or art area? It’s hard to say without knowing you. I just know that I would end up putting my computer there so I could be in the middle of the action while playing WoW or working.

  14. A sitting area, a table, and some directional lighting are all that are needed to make it look like a place to touch down between rooms. Maybe move that smaller chair you have just inside the living room if the love seat doesn’t fit. Move your bookcase, too, so it has more of a functional theme. Throw some artwork or hanging tapestries on the wall to soften the entry way so you aren’t walking into stark white space, and you’ll be using it regularly in no time!

  15. Loving the craft/library office ideas. In the past I’ve displayed all my shoes on a round table, along with accessories, creating a little fabulousness/finishing center for the home. Not so great for company- but felt glamorous.

    You may also consider a cocktail area or stealthy pantry, storing extra food/kitchen tools in an armoire or doored bookshelves.

  16. I love the library or home office/craft centre idea but to throw something totally different out there how about a fort? Get a mattress that fits the space, throw loads of cushions on it and hang some draping voile type material around it. If you feel adventurous you could make a repurposed palate bed to combine height and storage. Then on days when you want to relax or even times when you may want to get away from (or with) your other half you crawl in. Have a do not disturb policy and it can be your zen space or open out the curtains during a party and have the chill zone… for some visual inspiration im thinking like this
    Id totally go morrocan for inspiration but you can do anything that suits your tastes.

    If not those then Id get a long panoramic poster printed up with an amazing view and wrap it in that corner like a dual aspect window. It really depends what youre interested in though… do you or your partner play an instrument, could it be a music zone? Do you like film? Could you use that wall for a projector screen and put a ‘concesions’ stand in the corner with home made popcorn and stuff?

  17. What sorts of things do you like to do? If you’re avid readers, a reading room might work. If you’re gamers, put a tv on one side and seating on the other (use wireless controllers!)
    What about a mini gym? Bike or treadmill where the loveseat is now, and storage on the other side of the room for yoga mats, weights, balls, etc.
    A central room works great for us as an office. Since we just started our own business, it’s nice to be in a somewhat secluded place that’s not completely shut off from the rest of the family.
    Finally, what about a man cave? (That’s what my husband calls our game room) You could get a game table that converts to air hockey, pool, and ping-pong (we have one and it’s wonderful) Put it on furniture movers so it’s easy to slide in and out of the corner. Shelves on the side with the bike to store board games.
    Or, maybe a craft space? I’d be careful if you like to spread out though! Projects might get trampled on!
    We live in a 2 bedroom military housing house right now. The “garage” became a mancave/game room/where we entertain friends. The “dinning room” became a library/office/tiny craft area (that faces the tv shhh!) Our spare bedroom is on it’s way to becoming a gym/guest bedroom.
    Hope you find a great solution!

  18. I would put the TV in there, especially if it’s currently in the front room. I don’t like my TV to be the first thing they see when they walk in, and that way you would definitely get some use out of the sitting room. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  19. We have a small dining that was originaly a bed room but had its walls knocked down. We knew it was a dining room by the mac and cheese noodle on the ceiling. We don’t need a dinning room when we have room in the kitchen, it’s only the two of us (plus pets), and I eat on the couch. Our solution… We turned the dinning room into an office. We have desks, our desk top, and the best guinea pig ever in there. Someday I plan to put bookcases in there for our computer games and CD’s. I love having a computer space that is still close to the action.

  20. I live in a track home with two very small bedrooms that I don’t know what to do with. It’s just DH and me with two dogs. They are too small for gym, and I do not have enough books to make a library seem like a good use of space. What do I do with those rooms?

Join the Conversation