Is this a crazy idea?

lavender_lassAugust 31, 2010

I've talked about remodeling my little farmhouse before, but I want to know what you think of this idea. While I'd love to have a formal dining room, or at least a table that would seat 8-10 people, occasionally, it doesn't really fit into my dream kitchen plan.

The house has a dining room and small kitchen that I want to open up into one big room. I think one big space is much more practical and I like being able to talk to people, while I cook. Also, I really need a woodstove (for cooking and heat when the power goes out) and there are already corner windows in the dining room that would be perfect for a corner banquette. It would be a great space, but only room for about four a few people seated at the island/work table. Since it's just me and my husband every day, it's plenty of room for us, but kind of cramped, when we do entertain.

One thing I'd love to add to the house is a four season porch, with glass windows on two sides that can open to screens in the summer. I could put baseboard heat in, but I probably would only keep it warm enough for the plants, unless I was planning to use the porch in cool weather.

Well, here's the crazy part. If I set up my furniture, so that I have a table that will expand and use light weight upholstered and wicker type seating, I think it would be easy to have a seating area in the main area and a table with a few chairs in one corner...that could pull out to a big dining table with chairs (including some from the kitchen) for special occasions. You'd have to go through the kitchen to get to the porch, but the view would be great! It's not your normal dining room, but how great would it be for the holidays...all that snow on the pine trees :)

What do you think? Does anyone else use a space that is not their every day dining area for special occasions? Any pictures or ideas? Thank you!

Here's a view out the back, with the trees just beyond the horse pasture.

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Oh my! I have heard a lot of people adding on a sun porch. Not a one of them ever regretted having that extra space.

However, some were not too happy with the temperatures. Either too high or too low. What I recommend that you do is to
1. Study the orientation of the porch...north/south/east/west.
2. Pick a design that will give you the proper eave width and such.

3. What is your latitude? Is it such that you need storm windows? Shade cloth? What?

And no I do not think it is crazy at all. If you plan to open the windows and just have screens in the summer, you must be in a different climate than ours. Where are you?
Some old beach houses had the walls solid at the bottom, and the top window sashes dropped down out of the way to turn the space into a screened porch. Other houses had solid wood panels hinged across the top which were hoisted UP and latched to the ceiling on deep porches that were screened instead of glassed in.

I would consider whether insect screening would be adequate security against critters that go bump in the night around your neck of the woods. Do you have raccoons? Squirrels even? Skunks? Bears? Well, that makes me think you might wind up with some unexpected GUESTS occasionally. But there is something to deal with those problems. It is called ZOOMESH or PHANTOM MESH. They use it in zoos and it is powerful stuff, but it does not keep out skeeters or flies.

Great idea, just keep on thinking about it. The view will be gorgeous. I can see that with three feet of snow! If you have a photo of it that way, load 'er up! I'd love to see it.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:11PM
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If I understand you correctly, I think it's a great idea. I've seen pictures of others who use their porch as additional dining area. Here is one, and I'd give credit if I knew where it came from. I never intended to show it anywhere, was just keeping it for inspiration.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:13PM
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ML- When I say I want it screened that would only be during the day. Even in the hottest part of the summer, it gets down to 50 and it was 30 F last night! Brrr.

I live in eastern Washington and the porch would be on the west corner of the house, so wider eaves/overhang would be a great idea.

There are no photos of the winter, but I will try to take some this year. It is beautiful with all the snow on the trees and it's really pretty in the fall, too, when the aspens are gold against the pine trees. I'll take lots of pictures this year :)

Marti8a- I love the photo and it's got a hutch and everything! I would love to have the porch set up with a smaller table and a few chairs with a little chandelier and a hutch...perfect for tea. It would be so great to have a little spot for tea in the afternoon, especially when it's too cold to be in the garden.

I'd also like to have a loveseat or settee with a coffee table and a few chairs in the larger part of the space. Maybe one of those little pouf ottomans and lots of plants. Very english/french country with lots of painted furniture and lots of china and tea accessories. I've always wanted a sun porch, because with our long winters, you can get a little stir crazy around February. LOL

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:30PM
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I don't think it's crazy at all. I always remember Martha Stewart's very first Thanksgiving show. It's the one she did for PBS before anyone knew who she was. She had some outbuilding on her property that she decided to use for Thanksgiving dinner. It only had a wood stove for heating, I believe. I thought that was sooo cool.

If I were a guest, I wouldn't think it was crazy at all to have dinner somewhere besides the kitchen/dining room. I'd think it was charming, as long as it was comfortable.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:40PM
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I think it's a great idea. I don't have a dining room right now and we do love to entertain. I really want to build an indoor/outdoor room off the kitchen/front entrance and use it for a dining room. There's nothing like looking at a gorgeous view while eating and talking with friends. You should do it!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:49PM
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I ended up moving the love seat I bought for the living room into the dinning room. We have no dinning room table right now. I mover the longer couch I used for the fold up dinning room table seating into the living room. Was thinking I would not even able to set up an eating area as I have it. BUT I decided I could easily set the dinning room table,fold up one, in front of the couch with chairs and make the living room the eating space. Would be great. So should we decide to have a sit down dinner this is what I am going to do.

I think it is fine to do what ever works for you.

Marti that picture is Fantastic!!! Love that look.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 12:58AM
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It's not a crazy idea at all!

In our current house, we use what we think was a "sitting room" or "den" (it's from 1910) as the dining room. We use the current dining room as the family room because it's huge. Lots and lots of people use unconventional spaces for their dining rooms. It's not out of the norm at all. When I used to go over my Aunt's house for Thanksgiving, she set the dining room table up in part of her finished basement. Did it have that "formal dining room" feel? No. Did it get the job done, and did we all have quality time with the family? Yes.

Your idea is great about the four-seasons porch. I would do some research on the idea...I did a lot of research for our old house, which you know all about ;). And I looked into getting a solarium/conservatory, a more traditional sunroom, or a three season porch, etc. They all have pluses and minuses.

For what you describe you'd probably need something more like a real sunroom (lots of windows and then a solid, regular roof instead of a clear roof) or solarium/conservatory (clear/window roof) to be able to use it all four seasons. Especially since it gets so cold for so long of the year there. In most sunroom designs, and some solarium designs, manufactures have the option of having screens for the windows. So that you can use it in that function in the summer.

And I know you are over on the old house forum too...some old houses had "Sun Parlors" in their original plans (sun rooms). I'm guessing that's because their original intent was to have a somewhat formal sitting room open to the outside and sunshine, which is something that you are kind of describing, with the china, and ability to use as a dining room/sitting room, and all of that.

You certainly have a beautiful view.

Have you considered a solarium/conservatory, or a full sunroom off the house (three sides of windows instead of two)? You have much too beautiful of a view to not capitalize all available wall space for windows. We have a wooded view from the old house. If/When we renovate it, I am going to insist on a solarium/conservatory to capitalize on that view. Plus we live in the snowbelt and can get up to 120" of snow a year and it would be so awesome to sit out there and watch the beauty of the snow without getting cold and wet :).

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 3:21AM
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lavendar, I love your idea and think you should go for it! I believe that we should make the best, most sensible, creative use of the spaces in our homes. Who is it that uses their central hallway for a dining space? Is it antiquesilver? Can't remember, but I can remember seeing her photos of it all decked out for dining and it was so beautiful! With your views, a sunroom or winterized porch would be delightful! And, by doing that you can use the indoor kitchen/dining space in the way that makes most sense for you and DH the majority of the year. Good idea.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Thank you all for the encouragement. It doesn't seem so crazy, now that you all think it's a good idea :)

The farmhouse was built in two stages. The original house, from 1904, is 22' deep. The addition, added in the 1950s, is 34' deep. This creates an L-shape on the back and leaves an area about 21' x 12' which would make a wonderful sun porch.

I don't want a glass roof (west side and all that snow) but I would like lots of windows on the two sides that are open to the view. I really like Marti8a's picture, which is very similar to what I was thinking about doing. Since we'll probably add a gable over the porch, it would be nice to have a bit of a vaulted ceiling...and maybe slightly bigger windows.

It makes so much more sense to open the kitchen and dining area up (no load bearing wall) and both rooms are pretty small to begin with. The dining room even has these weird corner windows that would be perfect for the banquette, round table and a couple of chairs. The other corner, with no windows, is where I want to put the woodstove.

To keep the dining room and add on to the create the exact space I would have in the first option, would be much more expensive and would have to be heated, insulated, etc. while the porch can be a separate space with its own heating zone with the baseboard heater...and only has to be heated enough for the plants, when we're not using it. Maybe I can finally have some star jasmine! :)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 1:31PM
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Hey, purple girl! I had no dining room in the last house, and I just made the eat-in kitchen in this house into a huge island kitchen. No table will fit in there now, and there is room for 6 at most on the island.

Ar my old house, I bought two 8 ft banquet tables. On Thanksgiving, I would take all of the chairs and side tables out of the living room, leaving only the entertainment center and the sofa. They both got pushed against walls and the two banquet tables were set up. I would set dishes with the food on the everyday dining table on the far end of the room (dining "L" in living room) and people could go past and fill their plates. Later, as the serving plates were less full, we could pass them around the tables. That way I could seat 18 for dinner. If I had fewer people, I would put the two banquet tables together, side to side. That would form one big table that would seat 12, with room for all the serving dishes in the middle.

I will likely do the same thing in this house if we ever have such a big dinner again. People all crowd around the kitchen and dining areas anyway and this way the sports lovers can even watch the game in the "dining room!" Meanwhile, I have an 8 ft table in my "crafts" bedroom. The second lives in the basement, mourning the day when we cared to get together and meet for holidays.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 12:26AM
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Nancy, I do a similar thing at Thanksgiving. The most I've had for dinner is 14. Our bungalow has the dining room with a wide square opening to the livingroom. The dining room table seats 8 comfortably. We use a folding 8 foot table in the living room, as you do. Push the sofas back, put nice linen and nice wooden upholstered folding chairs around it and it seats 6. This works pretty well. We put the teenagers and grandma at the folding table (or they migrated there) and when dinner was over they retired to the sofas and texted each other! Goodness knows they were probably texting about how boring we all were!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:34AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

marti, love that picture!

lavender, I think you have a great idea--we did something similar when we added on a 'multi-purpose' room, for large family gatherings, instead of rearranging the LR every time. Our room is enclosed, but has two nice windows, French doors, and another door with a window, so it seems open and airy. I love having my morning coffee in the window seat. It has it's own gas FP, so can be closed off from the main house if necessary.

Go for it!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 1:07PM
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