Small Space Challenge

khriosNovember 27, 2006


I needs ideas on where to place my dining area.

I have a 1600 sq ft California bungalow. No, this is not my vacation home, it is my main residence. We are a family of 5, including two teenage sons and my mom. Mom is there about 6 months out of the year. As you can imagine, space is at a premium.

We converted the formal dining room into a 4th bedroom for my mom. Now, where do we eat? From June to September we eat outside, as we have a beautiful backyard, with a dining area, deck, etc.

The rest of the year is the challenge. We often have informal gatherings. We would like to have a dining space to seat 4 regularly, and with some tinkering accomodate others. Usually, if I have a larger gathering, I set up a buffet table.

Ok, the two spaces I have available are the living room, and the family room. The living room is a 14 x 22 rectangle. One of the long sides is open to the entry. One short side has a window.

The second space is a family room 12 x 14, rectangular. The short side wall is a fireplace/bookshelves. The other short side is open to the kitchen.

We would like to have TV's in both of these areas, if possible, because our viewing tastes differ.

Where should I set up my dining area? Ann

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I love watching small space decorating shows and looking at small space decor mags and an interesting thing I have seen several designers do is to get a drop leaf table and use as a counsel table behind a couch- popping up the leaf to sit 4 for meals or the same thing against a wall. Maybe this could be an answer for you? Think out of the box look at your items and space in a different way. I have also seen small round tables tucked in near a couch for meals only needing to slide 2 extra chairs to it for meals.
Do you have any pics you could share of your space this would probably help everyone come up with ideas and welcome to the group.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 9:34AM
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Hi, Ann...

Where is the livingroom in relationship to the kitchen? Would it be possible to set up a rectangular table in front of the window in the livingroom? If you placed one long side up to the window (to conserve space), with two chairs on the other side and one chair at either end, it would seat 4, and then when you had buffets it could also hold all the food.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 9:35AM
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The living room is across the foyer from the kitchen. It is a little incovenient to manuever from the kithchen, through the entryway, down one step (it is a sunken living room), through the LR furniture to the dining room. It isn't that far. It's just not that easily accessible.

If I had the living room furniture in front of the window, then the dining area would be accross the foyer from the kitchen.

I am going to have DH work on a drawing and will try to post a floor plan or maybe pictures. That would be helpful. Ann

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 10:10AM
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The house we are in never really had a formal DR. There's a small kitchen nook where my DH likes to watch TV and on the other end of the room was the 14 by 13 foot family room. The F/r is now our formal DR. We use the LR - it's where we do most of our living. I considered making the FR an office/DR but I have a big family so I like to stretch out the table for big gatherings. You can use cushy chairs for the table to make the area comfortable for TV viewing. That's what I did with the kitchen nook.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 6:04PM
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Here are my pictures. The 1st ones are the FR, the others are the LR.

The family room size is 10x12, I measured. The living room size is 14x17. The "measurements" in my first post were my best guesses. Please disregard the disorder, we are rearranging.

Ok, now I would love your input. Ann

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 11:19PM
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I would definitely utilize the FR as a dining room. Get a nice table and comfortable club chairs where everyone will be comfortable. My sis had a similar set up with a FP in the FR which she converted to her DR off the kitchen. There was space in the LR/DR but it was too far from the kitchen to really be practical. So she used the whole room as a LR which gave her alot more room to spread out. Is the bed staying?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 10:50AM
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Ha! Ha! No, we just bought a new mattress, and it was in the LR for a moment. We are rearranging the LR, so the items that are staying will be the sofa and two chairs. Every other item such as curtains, wall hangings, etc. is going. Oh, and the birds are staying.

If we put the dining area in the family room, then the black leather couches are going. Those couches are 17 years old. They survived two rambunctios boys and their friends. Now, they will go in the garage, for their game room.

I was thinking of getting a narrow rectangular table with extensions.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 11:14AM
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Cute house. I agree with bluesbarby that the FR would convert very nicely into a diningroom. Especially with the built-ins--I love having books in a room where I'm dining. How about a round table with an extension? I went from a rectangular table to a round and it's great not only for dining but for games. I have also found a round table to be a little more forgiving when I'm trying to seat a couple of extra people at it.

About the second TV--do you and your husband have different viewing tastes from your sons? Could the TV go into your bedroom?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 3:49PM
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That would make a fantastic dining room!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 8:59AM
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The extra TV is in the family room for my mom mostly. The boys have a TV in the garage. My husband and I have a TV in the LR.

I was thinking that maybe a flat screen TV that can be mounted.

Regarding the shape of the table, if I have a round table then it can not be placed against the wall or enlarged very much. Do round tables save space, seat more people than rectangular tables?


    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 12:53PM
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I have a drop leaf farm table in my small kitchen. It is 42" X 24" closed, each leaf is a bit over 12". Something like this would work as a sofa table behind yours in the FM. One leaf open and it seats four quite well, second leaf and can add two more or even four with comfortable room. I have two small benches with extra chairs available from other areas.

Regarding the flat screen. Just bought one this week and it is going to give me an extra 2' in my living room. Opens up the options for rearranging furniture and makes the room look so much larger (finding a new home for the huge wall unit). What I forgot into surround sound and PVR/Tivo/HD. I still needed room for all the components and don't have built-ins. Rather than buy a TV stand, am using my sofa table which looks far better IMO than what is offered on the market and fits in with my furniture. Off the subject....I love this new TV and HD.

By the way, and hopefully I won't get anyone mad at me, but I read your post on furniture and the response was a bit unfair. Glad you came over to smaller homes. It is wonderful of you to open your home to your mom for 6 mos and understand the challenge of space for all to feel at home. Enjoy the time with your mom, I'd love to have the chance to spend time with mine again.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 8:21AM
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emagineer, thank you for your response. I feel very fortunate to have my mom around. With 5 adult-sized people in our home, I am learning to maximize the use of every inch of space.

I am sold on the idea of having the dining area in the FR. Now the challenge becomes finding appropriately scaled pieces. At least here, in Sonoma County, CA, I find most furniture pieces oversized, suitable to the larger homes being built.

In terms of decorating style, I like ethnic flavor meets wine country(I am from Puerto Rico, and my husband lived in Africa for several years). But most of all, I like functional, warm, inviting rooms.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 10:50AM
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There are bunches of sales going on for furniture on the net. Some free shipping, etc. Even if you do have to pay for shipping, sometimes the tax savings balances the price paid. Start searching including the measurements. Many have bought this way and seems few have been disappointed.

You may want to consider getting something second hand that is a right size, etc. Just for a while and to see if it works for you. Might even end up being something surprisingly right that works for a long time.

Below is a table I am considering....need to take the plunge. Am located in Colorado Springs and they have a store here. Can at least look at their quality, but this one is inexpensive enough to try.

Here is a link that might be useful: table

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 11:35AM
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You might want to look at some older pieces. Generally they are smaller than today's pieces. We had to order children's bedroom furniture! Nothing that the showroom has comes in full size beds anymore, only queen or bigger. We're thrilled with our "kids" bedroom set, though. I can't imagine buying it for a child, but it suits us just fine!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 8:33AM
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