Alternative Dining Room Uses for Your Home

Updated March 15, 2017
Three women doing yoga in a former dining room space
Lisa Vielee (far left) turned her dining room into a family yoga studio. (Photo by Frank Espich)

If you seldom eat in your dining room, don't let that space go to waste.

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Many who grew up eating at the dining room table no longer do so, and some have ditched the room’s traditional concept for something new.

In a recent Angie’s List survey, 77 percent of respondents said they have a dining room, but only 23 percent eat there most nights. Sixty-seven percent said they use the space for other activities, including crafts (25 percent), storage (24 percent) and kids’ homework (19 percent).

Here are two examples of how to get more out of your now-former dining area.

Stretching space

When Lisa Vielee and family – including six children – moved into their home eight years ago, she thought they'd have dinner together every night.

That wasn’t the reality, and after years of frequent non-use, Vielee opted for a change. She sold their dining-room set in a garage sale and converted the spot into a family yoga area.

Women doing yoga in dining room space
Photo by Frank Espich

“At first it was a place for storage, but the kids are really into yoga, so having that clear floor space, it’s become our informal studio,” Vielee says. “Most nights, you can find one or more of us in there doing yoga.

“Going forward, hopefully I can turn it into a reading room. The TV’s always on (elsewhere) and there’s a lot of activity, so it’d be great to have this as my own quiet space to watch the world go by and read a book.”

Vielee, who says the family mostly eats at the kitchen bar or breakfast nook, doesn’t miss the old setup, even on holidays.

“Frankly, two or three card tables and chairs actually fit better, and I can fit more people in here than I could when we had the table,” she says.

Mini artist colony

Randy Sorrell knows this trend from two sides – as owner of remodeling company Surroundings, and as a homeowner.

With their dining room often abandoned, Sorrell and his wife, Kimberly, first turned the space into a home office. Shortly thereafter, it became a place for his painting and her jewelry production.

Randy Sorrell painting and Kimberly Sorrell making jewelry in their dining space
Photo by Frank Espich

“Evenings are just a ball in there,” Randy says. “We have a blast. We usually drink a little too much wine, and that leads to trouble.

“I think people realize we use (dining rooms) three times a year to eat. I’d rather use it three times a week doing something I love.”

The transition occurred as the couple became empty-nesters. "Our two daughters were very active (with various activities), so we knew after they moved out that we'd have a lot of hours to fill," Kimberly says. "Luckily, we both had hobbies."

Jewelry making supplies and stones
Photo by Frank Espich

On the job, Randy sees such changes more and more, especially the migration toward office space or hobby rooms like theirs, in addition to wall removal for more open space.

He says kitchen islands with seating further render dining rooms obsolete, and provide a needed congregation spot.

“You still want some form of dining-room table so everyone can sit around and look at each other,” he says. “It’s easier for conversation, entertainment, intimacy and laughter, the things you want to create in a luxury kitchen.”

Have you turned your dining room into something new? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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