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Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Posted by sueb20 (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 21, 09 at 8:09

We used to use our dining room all the time, for everything, because we didn't have an eat-in kitchen. Two years ago we did an addition, and now we have a big kitchen/family room with an island w/ stools where people can eat, as well as a kitchen table and chairs. Now, we never use the dining room. We don't entertain formally, and even if we did, our dining room is so small that our table only seats 6 people. I love the idea of turning the dining room into sort of a 'library' room. We have two large bookcases in another room that we could move in there, and I envision a loveseat/settee with two chairs opposite, and in the middle, a good-sized round table, either coffee-table height or taller, where you could still eat, maybe, or at least have a drink or snack. Has anyone done something similar, and if so, did you ever regret it? Any photos of similar rooms to what I'm describing? I thought I remembered this topic being discussed before, but I couldn't find any posts when I searched.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

How about this? If I had an "unused" room this it'd be it. Sorry, I just had to do it ;) (p.s. I wish I knew where I found this picture years ago).

That said... the reality of it? No dining room. My house has 832 square feet. The point of this house is to use every last inch as efficiently as possible and reduce the footprint down to the necessities while still maintaining a comfortable living place. It's no McMansion. The dining area was the first to go. Who needs one these days? What maybe four times a year? It wasn't worth it. The kitchen and livingroom are one open room with a bar to eat at. Or it's about to be. It is the last room to get finished. I am counting on people thinking, why do we need a dining room? Entertaining is done outside at my house. The kitchen extends out onto the covered porch and into the green grass and wooded area. Of course, I live in the south and we can be outside pretty much 10 months out of the year. Anywho, that's my vote.

Turn it into a useable space, that you love.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Turning your dining room into a library or reading lounge sounds like a great idea. It's not as though you're knocking down walls or anything, so if you decide to sell the house, potential buyers who want a dining room won't be disappointed. I love the idea of a comfy quiet space that I could take a snack and sit down to read in the evening! Go for it!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I'll have to thumb through my back issues of Cottage Living magazine. I recal one house that lined their DR (they still used it as a DR on a regular basis) from florr to ceiling w/ bookshelves even over the doors and windows. They used the table as a Library room table when not being used to eat. They did a relly nice job w/ it.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I'm in the process of doing the same thing. The room was never actually a dining room (new addition to the house), but dh wanted it to be one. I'm making it a library. It currently has a piano, fireplace, couch and oversized chair in it. When the weather cools and we're not working outside, I'll continue our wainscoting project for the room. Ours will be stained and I'm currently stumped on what color stain (lots of different woods in the room to work with). Also, in my vision, I see 4 comfortable chair and a round coffee table (think zuzu's room) in my library. I think it's a great idea!

rob333, I love that room! All those different woods is giving me some inspiration for my wainscoting color dilemma.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I did exactly that in my last house. I had a HUGE kitchen that easily accomodated a dining table. I used the formal dining room as an office/library/game room. I had bookshelves, a large desk, credenza, a reading chair and a pub table for board games or craft projects. It opened to the living room and had french doors into the kitchen/entrance area. It was a lovely room and easily my favorite in the house. Sorry, I don't have pictures.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

My mother in law eliminated her eat in kitchen. The dining room was right off the kitchen. In the area of the eat in kitchen she put a love seat large ottoman and a tv opposite that. That was the only tv in the house so it was perfect for FIL and MIL, was crowded in there when we went to visit however, but we just watched less tv. It worked for them.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Even though I only use my formal dining room a few times a year I still like the idea of having one (it might be a southern thing). Anyhow, when we bought our house a few years back it had a formal living room and a smaller formal dining room. I remembered as a child not being allowed in our formal lving room because the furniture was as my mother said "too nice". I didn't want anything "too nice" to use so we use the larger living room area as our formal dining room and turned the small dining room into a study/office. I love it.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

A GREAT idea to add bookcases -- and turn your unused space into a much used one! After all -- you've paid for every inch of your living space -- why not use it to your best advantage? :)

We don't use our dining room. I'll be listing everything on EBay later in the year - including my china and my silver!(after family member visits)!

Jan


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I too have a formal dining room that is not used as the dining room . When my kids were home it was their room, we have a TV, computer etc in that room. Now it is the grandkids play room. It was a real selling point for me when we bought the house, that extra room that could be used for whatever we wanted it to be. Someday maybe, it will be a dining room again but we are not a formal dining room family and at this point in our lives I need it for other uses. I posted before about my desire to have a bigger dining area in my kitchen am stilling looking into finding other space for that as I do not want to give up the grandkids playroom as my dining room. I do admire those of you that have the space for a formal dining room and can use it for that purpose.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

When we came to the Open House for the house we bought, the Prev. Owner had leather sofas in the front room off the entry. They told us that for family functions or holidays, they moved out the sofas and moved in a dining set, but didn't really need it otherwise. So, when we moved in, we put our dining table in one end of the large LR and did the same with that front room. It looked really pretty and provided runoff space when we had kids over. Also, my DD and SIL used it as their private space (doors close it off from rest of house) when they had to stay with us for a few months. But eventually, I missed having a dedicated dining room. I moved the sofa and chair to the LR spot, put my table in there, and added a buffet. My DH uses a corner with a built-in desk as his office. It's not that we use it that often, but I like being able to. I think you have to do what works best for your own circumstances and not let the original uses for a room dissuade you.

A bathroom is always going to be a bathroom, but most any other room can be flexible.

Red


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I agree with Red. I love my dining room, but it is large, by old house standards, and we use it for all extended family gatherings. If it were too small to serve this function, I would make it a library or pub room in a minute! I love that pub/wine bar room. I say "go for it!"
Diane


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Our dining room is attached to the living room...we eat every meal there.

From chair


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I just downsized my dining room. It is still a dining room but I removed all of the china from the china cabinet and turned it into a "curio" housing one of my collectibles and moved it into the LR. I have the table and a buffet left. I like the new roominess and still have people in there from time to time, but it no longer "feels" like it once did all of those long years ago when we had a lot of dinners in there with our extended family.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Thanks for the encouragement. I've been plotting all morning. I'll be away for most of the rest of the summer, so it gives me time to really think about this. Of course this has led to a three-room re-design, which DH is still OK with (in general, he doesn't like change!). We have a sunroom that no one goes in except for me, because my desk and computer are there. But there is also a nice loveseat and the bookcases, which would all move to the dining room. So then we have this open space in the sunroom (which is another very small room). My office is in another room, a very small bedroom upstairs, but I often end up running back and forth between that room and the sunroom, because the computer is in the sunroom. So I'd move my "office" to the sunroom, while trying not to make it look too officey, because I want some degree of coziness in the room. Anyway, then my upstairs office would become a small guest room, which is something we don't have and since my father recently lost his wife (my stepmother), the room will be perfect for him when he visits. Got all that? LOL.

So far not too many expenditures involved, except for a new slipcover for my loveseat, because the current one does not go with the dining room wall color and curtains (both of which are fairly new).


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I went the other way when I moved into my present house: turned the family room into a dining room.

To be clear, the house had a dining room, but it wasn't large enough for a full-size dining table. There's no eating space in the (galley) kitchen, and the previous owners had a breakfast table in the family room.

In essence, I turned the original dining room into a family room for a family of one human and two cats: small breakfast table, TV, lounge chair, cats' food and water dishes. Since it also has to serve as a passageway, this is more functional than crowding in a larger table.

A sit-down dinner is my preferred form of entertaining, so this works for me. But I can't see any reason to preserve a dining room that isn't large enough to be useful as one.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

My house had two eating areas and only one living area so we turned our formal dining room into what we call the den. It's a very pleasant room with a sleep sofa and a comfy car. We use it for visiting and reading, there is no TV in there. We also use it for a guest room.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

As I live in a 3500 sq. foot room, I don't really have a separate dining room, but I hate eating in a kitchen. I don't want to see dishes,etc., and it feels weird to set a pretty table with nice china and silver and sit in a kitchen. I'm all for books in a dining room, though--feels like a private club.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

sueb20, I think you have a great plan. I've always thought we should use our homes to fit our lifestyles. If you don't need a formal dining room, use the space for what you really do need. Looking forward to your finished pics!

I have a small dining room so no large dinner parties happening in it. But it has a lovely bay window which lets in lots of natural light, so I like to eat breakfast in there, especially on the weekends with DH when he's home. I have my piano on one wall since I don't have space for it anywhere else. Been there for 19 years and has worked out well. : )


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Sue, I think you are on to a great idea about using your dining room as a library if you don't dine in there. I'm all about using ALL the space in your home.

I don't think I would know how I would act without a dining room. Many memories are made there for our family. We have many holiday gathering and get togethers at our home so the dining room is used regularly for dining. Guest and family usually all hang in the kitchen, especially for appetizers, but then we always migrate to the dining room to eat.


But on regular days when, it is DH and I, we will eat a small dining table in the great room.

Rob33, beautiful room!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

When the POs added on the den, they removed the closet from the smallest bedroom (8 x 10) and turned it into a dining room.

This post gives me dining room-turned into something else Envy. *sigh*

Our now dining room (small bedroom) has a door on each wall connecting to other rooms.
Turning the room into anything else would make it a not very quiet room.
To get to any other main room in the house you have to go through the dining room.

It would have been better left as a bedroom because with a dinner of 6 people seated, I can barely get around the table/chairs and I've got a small round table in there and I'm using folding chairs for now until I find something on CL.

I love the pics posted and I can continue to dream through all of you who have done what I've wanted to do for years.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

my house has grown from a small farm house to large contemporary. what was once the original house's DR is now our library.

Here is a link that might be useful: library is old dining room


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Oh, thanks, dayenu, that is somewhat similar to what one wall of my room would be like. We have tall narrow cabinets on either side of a set of double windows, and the loveseat would be under the windows, where your bench is, with a round table!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Love that picture Dayenu, what a cheerful room!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

If you'd like to see inspirational pictures of libraries, there may be some in the Living Rooms thread in the Gallery, but I know I put most of them in the Home Offices thread.

Dayenu, I really like what you did with that room. Now I want to see the rest of your house!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I don't have any pics but we turned ours into a sitting/computer room. Like you, we have a fairly roomy kitchen and have all our meals including holidays in there so didn't need the dining room


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

My formal "dining room" has a bay window all along one wall that faces east. I turned it into a modified solarium and have tons of plants in it. Everyone who walks in loves the room. As do I.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Dayenu...what a CHEERFUL room, I love it!

I guess I'm at the opposite end here-
I waited all my married life (29 years) to finally get a DR. We host all the holiday dinners so it's such a treat to finally have one. Plus...we have my inlaws DR set, designed by hubby's uncle- so it really pleases him to have this DR. :)


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Adding bookshelves to a dining room is a great use of all that peripheral space. I have one bookcase in our dining room (which is used daily since it's our only eating space and it has "breakfast room" type table and chairs, not formal at all), but I'd love more shelves if I could afford it.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I'll have to come back later when I have time to read what others have said, but for now thought I'd add a slide show of my library inspiration pictures for you.

During the planning stages of our home I changed the original plans that made the formal dinning room into our library since we are avid readers. It only made sense.

Here's the slide show for now....


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I believe a home should serve it's owners, not the architect who designed it.

Of the 19 homes we've had I think about 2/3 have had separate (formal) DR's. I have not had a formal DR in 20 years.

Our current home has a semi-open plan and the great room has the dining buffet/hutch but the table is against windows and is rarely used or set up as a dining table. It's a place to decorate with a vignette, do a jigsaw puzzle, or use as a desk. Also have a conversation area at that end. The large breakfast part of the kitchen is where we usually eat, even with company.

I doubt most formal DR's are used very much but it's whatever suits your lifestyle and aspirations.

I'd actually like to have a separate DR again as they are fun to decorate. Maybe in my next house.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Well, I woke up this morning having cold feet about totally eliminating a "dining table" in that room. My thought now is to have a small, extendable round dining table in the room, but still with a loveseat/settee on one side and two comfortable chairs. On the rare occasions when we want our family to eat in the room, we can use the table and bring in a couple of extra chairs from the kitchen. So the key now is to find a loveseat and chairs that are comfortable, but with a seat height that works with a dining table. I love the idea of a 36" round table with leaves, but so far I am only seeing 42" (min) tables that come with an extension option. I can use 42" but will continue looking to see all the options. We are leaning toward a Mission/Arts & Crafts look because the bookcases we're bringing in are dark oak Stickley pieces.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I had a very small formal dining room and found that we couldn't fit very many people in there and most of the time we walked right through the room and never used it.

I have since turned the dining room into a sitting room/piano room. I moved my dining table out into the main living area of my home. I am now able to keep a leaf in the table at all times and add an additional leaf when needed.

By doing this, I have created more usable space in my somewhat small home. I say use your home the way your family wants/needs to vs. the way some stranger designed it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sitting room is former dining room


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I love my dining room! But the trick for me is to make it warm and welcoming and STURDY enough that we can use it every night for dinner - without fear. We sometimes eat in the kitchen, but that just doesn't feel as 'nice'.

My vote would be to lower the formality level until you reach a point where you still feel wonderful and beautiful, but not unfriendly. If that means adding bookcases, couches, floor lamps -- great! Lose the 'stuffy' but keep the elegant.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

We did the opposite actually. When I was in the early stages of planning my kitchen remodel, I was fretting about the fact that my breakfast room was so small. We never used it because it was just too crowded for four people.

I read an article about a couple who repurposed two rooms, their family room became their dining room because they entertained a lot and needed a large room for a large dining table. Their dining room became their living room for a more intimate space for what was usually just the two of them.

It got me to thinking about unused spaces in my house. As others have said above, it's smart to do whatever you need to do to make ALL the space in your house usable. We ended up expanding the kitchen into the former breakfast area. Ditched the bkfst table and instead put in a bkfst bar for two. Fridge, pantry and breakfast bar along with a wine rack/china cabinet went into the space where the table used to be, and that gave me a much nicer space to work with for the main work areas in the kitchen.

Nowadays with my kids gone off to college, it's mostly just the two of us and the bar works great for us. Otherwise we use the dining room table for family gatherings or for when we have guests. No more unused, unloved spaces!

Go for it!


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

1. I agree that the house should serve the residents.
2. aside from the library I DO have a formal dining room which I use daily.

3. to see the rest of the house- which has been a three year labor of love... go to the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: my whole house.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Well, I have embarked on Step One: Listed my dining room furniture on CraigsList! Woohoo! I will be away for a couple of weeks so am leaving this for DH to deal with. ;)


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

No DR here, don't ever intend to have one again. I was totally "over" giving fancy dinner parties by my early 20s. My last "real dining room" (another one of those dumb things I did because I thought I was supposed to: proper grownups who had "made it" had a dining room so therefore if I was a successful grownup I must have a formal dining room - the same bizarre logic as matching furniture suites in my family) became a staging area for making care packages for my brother's Army unit very early in the Iraq war - I don't think anyone ate anything at that table for more than a year and we realized we didn't care! We do not have any extended family here and our gang of loonieschosen family are really not the "sit formally around a table" types - our meals together are much more fluid and casual than that, lots of drifting around and changing places and conversation groups over the course of a meal. But then, not one of our friends has a dining room either. Most of them live in tiny apartments - at somewhere between 1200 and 1250sf our house is the largest by a pretty significant margin, so no one expects that kind of a formal setup anyway.

In my last house we turned the room designated on the floorplan as being the dining room into a library. Of course, it wasn't the pretty kind of library you see on this forum (although it would have been eventually!), rather just a whole lotta mismatched paperback books in a bunch of cheap melamine bookshelves with a big comfy chair, but we still liked being in it. When we put the house up for sale we staged it back to a normal dining room and it was once again just wasted space to heat and clean.

In this house PO took down most of the wall between the tiny kitchen and tiny DR in order to scavenge a couple of feet of space for the kitchen cabinets. Instead of the table and chairs and so on that would be expected to make it a typical eat-in kitchen, we crammed a couple of big comfy couches into the "dining room" part and eventually there will be a large, square, highish coffee table for eating, game-playing, etc. Kind of like an extremely casual version of a banquette. ;-)


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

LOL johnmari!! I read your post and thought the same thing! We never give fancy dinner parties anymore! I prefer the much more casual dining experience when family comes to visit, which is hardly ever. So for the past three years, my dining room has been completely empty!!

I'm thinking of turning it into a sitting room/library - sounds like a wonderful idea! After I tackle the entry, I might get around to working on that room! :)


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Sold our dining room furniture for full price to the first guy who came to look at it! Woohoo! Now I have cash in pocket while I continue to search for my new furniture. I'm on vacation (well, if you can call it vacation when you're with kids and husband just "visits" on weekends) in an area where there are lots of good furniture consignment shops (and CL, of course) so I'm hoping to at least find the table I need while I'm here.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

We still use our DR as a combo eating area/newspaper reading spot/entertainment place. Lately it's picked up use as a game room for my sons and their growing cadre of friends who have lost their jobs. It's still the best spot in the house to eat & yak with friends. Sweeby made a good point about losing the formality to make it friendlier. I, on the other hand, love the transforming effect of a beautiful formal room -- makes me forget I'm an aging, frumpy housewife :)


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Hello,

Here is a pic of our "dining room". We have a good sized eat-in dining area open to our kitchen. We didn't have a separate dining room in our previous home and never missed it. When we built our new home, we decided to use the dining room as a sitting room. We love to sit in this room and read.

Elaine


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Oh, gosh, the pics of all your former-dining-rooms-turned libraries are wonderful! I, too, think that it's a great idea . . . if you're not using your present dining room. Repurposing space to fit your needs is so darn practical.
For us, though, it wouldn't work. We eat every dinner in our dining room and our weekend breakfasts, too. And, I ENJOY having sit-down dinners with friends and family. Most are fairly casual, but I enjoy sitting around the table for a good couple of hours, chatting and enjoying food, friends and family. I'm not Italian or Spanish, but I do admire their dedication to that time you spend eating and enjoying the company of each other . . . and we're not overweight or over-eating because of it, either ;^D. We just had a big taco party here the other night and I loved having so many people laughing and talking around my table.
We have a kitchen peninsula with very comfy stools, but I prefer looking at my family while we eat . . . instead of the tv or the kitchen cabs (LOL!), so we limit it to occasional quick lunches or snacks.
But, getting back to dining-rooms-turned-libraries, I agree that if you're not into entertaining around a dinner table or you have a table in your kitchen for family dinners, this sounds like the ideal solution.
Now I'm off to see Justgotabme's slide show!
Lynn


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Just to clarify my final plan on the dining/library room... we will still be able to eat in there when we want to. I'm getting a dining table, just smaller than what we had (searching for a 42" round with option for extension/leaves). We'll have a settee on one side (have found a couple w/ high-enough seats) and two chairs on the other. I think the two chairs will either be wicker w/ seat cushions, or Parsons chairs with slipcovers. When we want to pull out the table and seat 6 (which is all we could accommodate when the room was used for a 'real' dining room), we can bring in 2 more chairs from the kitchen. Now, I just need to find all the missing pieces! I am scouring CL every day! I have found a new table that would work, but it is pricey, and I'd really prefer an antique if I can find the right thing. This will be my early-fall project, since I'm at our beach cottage for the next month (but still obsessing about the project at home, obviously!).


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

SueB, your plan sounds like the perfect solution! Good friends of ours lined their dining room walls with built-in bookcases filled with their books, some low chests for storage with paintings above them and propped up on the bookcase shelves. Eating in there was incredible! They had an rustic, antique table down the middle of the room, where they worked at many evenings. They had library lamps they used then that were replicas of ones used in old NY public libraries. It was cozy and beautiful in there and I'd do the same in mine in a New York minute if I could. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
Lynn


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

I just had a formal dining room plus den added onto my house. After 20 years of an eat in kitchen enough was enough. Some of my best childhood memories are Holidays, Birthdays and Sunday dinners in the dining room. Crisp table clothes, napkins, fine china and candle light.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Well, that was never going to happen here! (Crisp linens, etc...) Every family is different, but we are very informal. I am pretty sure my kids will have great memories of holidays and birthdays, even without the fine china and linens.


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RE: Have you eliminated your formal dining room?

Have you considered a Garden Studio?

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Studios


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