Home & Decor

What to Do with Your Unused Dining Room?

Recent research has shown that more than 57% of Americans do NOT eat in the dining room, opting instead to dine in a kitchen island space or in the living room. At the same time, family therapists suggest that eating together is a great way to build stronger families. So what’s a homeowner to do with a space they never use but feel guilty about giving up?

It’s the Who, not the Where

The good news is that you don’t have to turn dinnertime into a formal event, nor do you have to forgo your commitment to family. It turns out that the most important part of family dinner is WHO is there, not WHERE you eat. You can just as easily talk to your kids in the breakfast nook or kitchen island space as you can around a dining room table. In fact, you can turn off the TV and have a great dinner conversation around your living room coffee table if you prefer.

If you’re a family that simply doesn’t have fancy place settings, fine china and a separate room for dinnertime, you might consider repurposing that space into a room that really fits your family’s needs. Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Family Game Room

Do you love board games, Wii bowling competitions, working elaborate puzzles, or a rousing game of canasta? If you enjoy playing games with friends and family, you should consider ditching the china hutch for a game shelf and those hard dining room chairs for more comfortable seating.

family game room
Turning boxed games into a decorating feature might encourage family table time, rather than individual screen time.

2. Library

Did you ever dream of having your own personal library space? With a huge free-standing globe and a ladder to reach the books on your floor to ceiling bookshelves? If you are ingesting more of the written word than you are a big meal you could consider turning your dining room into a library. Replace the big table with a few smaller tables to set books on, line the walls with shelves, add some sink-in worthy armchairs and a bean bag or two to create the perfect reading room.


3. Meditation Space

Have you taken up yoga or meditation? Having a space dedicated to calm can really help you to find that inner peace you’re searching for. Take out the table, add some bamboo and other houseplants, a good quality mat, and a water fountain for a peaceful room.

4. Hobby Space

Maybe you had to give up pottery when you graduated from college, or had to put quilting off when your children got big enough that you couldn’t rationalize using the 2nd bedroom for your crafts any longer. Whatever the reason for giving up your hobby, you should seriously think about taking it up again and using your dining room for something you really love to do. Most dining rooms are big enough to accommodate equipment and storage, especially once the dining room table is hauled out.


5. Home Office

If you don’t use your dining room and all your other bedrooms are being occupied, why not turn that unused eating space into a home office? You can set yourself up with a good desk, your computer, shelves and filing cabinets for all the home and business information you need at your fingertips, and you’ll be set to run your home empire. This space could also serve double duty for a kids’ homework station, right where you can keep an eye on them while dinner is cooking.

Do you use your dining room for dinner? Or have you repurposed it into a space dedicated to something else?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dining rooms a waste of space?

Dining rooms are not a waste of space. The dining room, formerly considered a vital component of a house, is now regarded a waste of space. The growth in popularity of the great room, as well as the realities of contemporary living (working parents returning home at various hours, children on different schedules), may be attributed to the tendency. Many variables influence whether your dining room is still functional as is or if it is preferable to repurpose the space for anything else that better matches your lifestyle.

Is it necessary to have a dining room?

No. You can eat almost anywhere. Many individuals have an eat-in kitchen. There is just no need to go to the dining room every day. People consume much more food than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Many contemporary apartment floor layouts simply do not accommodate a dining table. They do, however, contain room for an island bench. Island benches are especially popular in bigger family homes, as everyone tends to naturally gather in the kitchen.

Can a dining room be at the front of the house?

It is certainly feasible to have a dining room directly next to the front entrance while keeping the house’s flow intact. If your present dining room is tiny and cannot handle regular dinner parties, redesigning your front room to function as a dining room is an excellent alternative. Putting your dining room in the living room doesn’t have to be a costly undertaking, but you may need to make some alterations to get the desired mood and aesthetic.

What matters is what is close to the dining room and how you want to utilise it. A “formal” dining room should be near the “formal” living room and close (but not too close) to the kitchen. This often brings the dining room closer to the front of the home, although it is not required.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It