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The Room Switch Up + Design Plan (Advice Needed)

I have been back and forth on something & thought I would share with you my dilemma in the hopes it brings me clarity. There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not to switch up my dining room for a den/study area. I really do LOVE my dining room but it is rarely used. Most of our dinners are spent at our kitchen bar and if we have small gatherings it is spent in the kitchen huddled around the bar. On birthdays and holidays, when we host we do use it but I know I can create other seating areas to compensate.

Fall Dining Room With Birch Lane Chandelier

The argument for the den/study….

It would be great to have an area off the kitchen where we can relax while dinner is being cooked, maybe read, do homework possibly? A place I can see them, where we feel like we are all together. We do have a large family room but it always seems like they are on the other side of the world. And to be honest we all like cozy spaces here and the FM is mighty spacious! I know we would use it way more if it was a den but….there is still that nagging idea that I NEED a formal dining room. I am also at a point in my life that I want real life function for my house and not just something that is pretty to look at.


The argument for the formal dining room….

When we first bought this house I was so excited to have a dining room. In my head I imagined these formal dinners, holidays spent with family & friends. I don’t think I factored in having a 1 & 6-year-old at the time I fantasized about these festive gatherings but none the less the dream was there. When we lived in Colorado we had an open concept so the dining room table was attached to the kitchen and oh did I long for a formal space. Because I had wanted one for so long I treasured this space in our new home. I was beyond grateful for it. It’s funny when we showed my dad this house for the first time he mentioned it would be a great den and of course I poo pooed the idea. Sorry dad! So basically it’s pretty, functional 2-3 times a year and I have always wanted one. To be also fair we could make an effort to use it more. My sister-in-law uses her formal dining room when they do take out, that way they use it more and it’s not a lot of extra work. She says it makes it feel special and they actually spend more time eating & chatting.

Simple Fall Styling Ideas-Make your own watercolor art


Rustic Cozy Tablescape With DIY Marcame

Some needed perspective on the switch up, if it happens. I am not changing anything but furniture and function. I am not knocking down walls, moving plumbing or electricity (I need to hear this, lol,) nothing is permanent.

In case it is hard to visualize, here is an open canvas of the room before…..





So the plan if I take the plunge….

Modern Rustic Den/Study Design PlanAdd a modern farmhouse table + 2 upholstered benches to my kitchen nook

Keep walls and drapes the same

Add woven wood shades

Add a soft neutral wool rug

Bring in my favorite Chesterfield sofa of all time

Create 2 round, maybe live edge wood coffee tables

Use my leather chair

Keep my round chandelier

Get a more modern console

Add television on hidden wall

Make the built-ins feel more like a library with a floating ladder

Layer in cozy textures with pillows and throws

Use neutrals and indigos

Add some plant life

Bring in some awesome art work

Create hexagonal shelves

Keep part of built-in a bar

So I have laid it all out. I would love to know what your experience and relationship is with your formal dining room + if you have any insight to offer:).


Ironically I am over at Better Homes & Gardens sharing more of my love for the classic and timeless Chesterfield sofa. And 5 styles that can work this look well, you may be surprised by a few….


Hope you have a beautiful fall day!

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  1. We are having the same dilemma! Curious as to what others think! Although if we keep it a dining room, I may have to mimic your décor! Swoon!

  2. I think it’s a great idea to turn that space into a den. You will most likely use it more than 2-3 times a year! A dining space is easy to convert your den into those 2-3 times a year by just brining in a folding table and some chairs. Don’t overthink it! Do what works best for your family! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  3. A bit hard to weigh in on this without knowing your floor plan, exactly, but I looked a bit through your site and saw that you have 4 in-a-row stools at your kitchen island. I really, really think that as your kids get older you will want to sit down at a table and have dinner and be able to talk and have face to face conversations, and I don’t feel like the four in a row thing will work for that. My boys are 13 and 17 and we sit and actually talk a lot at dinner – about how their day was, about what they are learning at school, right now we talk a lot about politics. Perhaps you can just switch around your current family room and dining room, or incorporate your table into your family room? Again, hard to imagine since I can’t find a real floor plan for your house. A sure whatever you do it will look great!

    1. I tend to agree with Monica. We never used our dining room until the kids got a bit older – probably 6 and 9. Since then we try to use it regularly to help support longer, more intimate dinners were we can connect. I find this especially important since I have boys. They are now 9 and 12 and love eating in the dining room because it’s special time.

      This doesn’t have to be done in the dining room though – so many breaking up your family room would work. I just know – the bar dining is much more geared towards quicker eating with the dishes staring at you, etc.

  4. I like the den idea. Nine years ago when we moved here, my then teenage daughter suggested we put a (very nice, solid pine) counter height pub table and (comfortable) barstools in our formal dining area. We also have books and games in a large hutch in that area. So, it’s been used as a desk, card table, game table, pizza party table, etc… And one Christmas we did eat there. But, for the most part that area became a fun area that WE USE every day pretty much. We never would be using it if it was set up as a formal dining area. Our breakfast nook is in front of french doors in our white farmhouse kitchen so it’s a very pleasant place to eat pancake breakfasts to Christmas dinners. Good luck! You’ll make it great!

  5. Hey girl- I say take the plunge and see how you like it! You never know until you do it! good luck I know it will look great!

  6. I think this is a great idea! You’ve got to find what works for you and your family instead of being tied to the idea of making a room serve a specific function. Having said that, I wonder if instead of having two coffee tables, you have one and then bring in a drop leaf dining table that could be used either for homework or for dining. If the drop leaf is down, it could be pushed against a wall so it wouldn’t take up as much space when not being used or you could have it in front of the bookcases if have room. One advantage to having a taller table is that it would be more comfortable to work on when you or your kiddos are working on projects where you need to spread out. I’m sure you’ll find just the right mix. I can’t wait to see what you do in this space!

  7. Do it! Change it! You will never regret creating a space that initiates more togetherness as a family. You’ll still be able to style your table pretty in your kitchen. I’ll all about an eat-in kitchen, it’s so family-oriented, so useful, and it can be every bit just as beautiful.

  8. We turned our dining room into a study-dining room about 3-1/2 years ago. We have bookcases along one wall, a 6-1/2 foot table running parallel, with a short end against the draped windows. We keep our 2 upholstered armed-dining chairs at the table; the rest are scattered through the house. We have a sideboard on the wall opposite, but a conversation area is equally possible.
    When we (rarely) entertain in this room, we pull the table away from the windows and gather the dining chairs.
    The chandelier is centered above where the table sits when entertaining.
    This arrangement has been perfect for us; we use the room so much more often.
    We have hung French doors at both the hallway and kitchen entrances to this room; for quiet and privacy.

  9. Your dining room is so beautiful but your plans are also lovely. My family has changed the function of three different rooms throughout the different stages in my children’s lives and have always been very happy. Being able to use and enjoy a space daily is more important than keeping to a set vision (I also struggled with this). As your family and needs change you can always switch back. Go for it!

  10. Ditch it! Life’s too short to not enjoy yourself and home to the max. Love the rustic chic ideas.

  11. As an older mom I would DEFINITELY recommend keeping the room as a dining room. My kids are in their 20’s now and I can look back on all the conversations, laughs and sharing-time we have had over the years at the dining table. I wouldn’t trade those for anything!!!

  12. I vote for den. I made this decision and have never missed a dining room. Our kitchen dining/nook handles nicer dinners well (with guests) and for overflow at holidays, I set up a round table with linen and decorate as I do the kitchen dining table. But I do love your dining chairs! can you use those elsewhere?

  13. I haven’t seen many pics of your kitchen but it appears that you have a small seating area that could be replaced with a small kitchen table. I think you will get more use/family time out of a den than a dining room that only gets used 2-3 times a year.

  14. I say go for it! I think you will get way more use out of a den. We are the same way….never use our dining room which then becomes a waste of space. Your home should be used as you best see fit. So much nicer to use the whole house rather then only part of it! Can’t wait to see what you do with it! 🙂

  15. I would DEFINITELY keep it as a dining room. As an older mom (my kids are 31, 25, and 23) I have so many good memories of dinners at the dining table. My children would tell me the best and worst things that happened during their day. We ‘came together’ during those meals, shared our worries and triumphs, and problem solved. Life is too busy, don’t let go of any opportunity to look into your children’s eyes across the ta

  16. I like the idea of using the space as a den, if it makes the space more functional. We had a “formal” DR in our previous home that was about 13 x 11 and although a good space, not large enough or open enough when hosting larger Holiday dinners. Seems like the hostess is always up and down so I was always squeezing around someone. We ended up using it more as a place for buffets. But it would have worked well as a den or office. So glad you chose the Madera table. I think if you have space for the right table, it doesn’t matter where you place it as long as everyone is comfortable.

  17. You have to do what’s best for your family. And it seems that right now you’d get a lot more use if that space was used as a den. However, in the not so distant future, there may be girlfriends and later in laws and eventually grandchildren in your life. Don’t gasp! LOL! It happens faster than you know! 🙂 I never used the dining room when my boys were younger. Now that they have their own families, it’s the only room in the house that accommodates all of us. As you decide what to do, keep an open mind about the future! Can’t wait to see how this ends up!

  18. Love your curtains. Did you purchase ready made? If so I would like to check them out? I have been looking for curtains for four months. Thanks.

  19. It would have been fun to see your 1st floor layout, but without it, it seems to me you’ll be using the den as a smaller family room. Then what becomes of the family room? It sounds like it will be a larger space that goes unused! I agree with those that have older kids. Mine are all in their 20’s now, and we still use ithe dining room several times a week. But do what works best for you. Good luck.

  20. Is there any way you can turn this into a den for NOW, and then later put it back to this glorious dining room when your kids are older. No change has to be permanent! Can you reuse what is in there somewhere else so you can keep the items/furniture and change it back at some point?

    Function for now and option for function for the future too?

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