13 Better Ways to Use a Formal Dining Room

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated September 27, 2021
Two brothers playing ping pong in house’s game room
SolStock/Moment via Getty Images

If your formal dining room rarely sees any use, you can transform it into a craft studio or guest room

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A formal dining room is not a requirement for homeowners nowadays. As we discover new ways to configure spaces, we discover ways to make our homes work for our unique needs. There’s no use leaving a room empty, but you may be wondering how you can use your formal dining room for something other than, well, dining.

For those who don’t desire a formal, traditional dining room area, we’ve compiled a list of alternatives.

1. Make Your Formal Dining Room a Playroom

A daughter playing in the playroom with her father
Maskot/Maskot via Getty Images

If you have kids and don’t use your formal dining space, consider transforming the room into a playroom. This can be a great way to keep the kids busy when you need quiet time and designate one room for the inevitable messes. Pick a fun carpet, fill the room with all their favorite toys, and add some bookshelves and crates to store everything. 

2. A Dining Room Can Become a Home Office

Turning your empty dining room into an office is a great idea if you’re working from home or need to do some work late at night and don’t want to bother anyone. You can style it as you like—if you have the stools or chairs from your unused dining room, you can use them when you have meetings or guests. If your desk and chair only take up a portion of the room, you can set up items like a filing cabinet, calendar, printer, and lamp. 

3. Say Hello to Your New Guest Room

If you don’t have any use for a formal dining room, consider reconfiguring the area into a guest room where friends and family can stay for the weekend. You can get a Murphy bed which saves space and functions as a couch when no one is sleeping.

4. Transform the Dining Space Into Your New Home Gym

A home gym with equipment and space to stretch out
poplasen/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

You can easily use an empty formal dining room space as a gym where you can work on training for your local half marathon. We recommend leaving space in the middle of the room for floor workouts or stretching and spacing your equipment and machinery around the perimeter. 

5. A Craft Room Is a Great Alternative to a Dining Room

For the aspiring artist, a craft room may be more necessary than a formal dining room. Or, if you’re taking up a new hobby, such as knitting, you can dedicate this room entirely to crafts. Transform the room into a space for painting, photography, sculpting, and more. Set up your easel or pottery wheel and consider building a shelf for supplies such as brushes, pencils, pens, and paper. 

A man playing the guitar in his music room
10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images

6. Build Your Own Recording Studio

Trade your formal dining room space for your very own recording studio. This room is the perfect place to store your drums and guitars and rock out with your friends. And while everyone will love your beautiful music, be sure to invest in the cost of soundproofing the room just in case.

7. Make Your Dining Room Into a Library or Reading Room

A library room with huge bookcase and two comfy armchairs
Mint Images/Mint Images RF via Getty Images

If you’re in dire need of book storage space and you have the budget, what better time to turn your empty dining room into a library? You can line the walls with your books, add in some comfy seating, and voila! Not only is this space functional, but walls of gorgeous books can also add a unique design element to your home.

8. A Living Room or Lounge Can Come in Handy

If your house is typically chaotic, you need a room where you can kick back, watch some flicks, and chill out. If so, you can transform your empty dining room into a living room and choose to decorate it how you see fit. Consider doing some research to see how you can spice up the living room and design it to your liking. 

9. Go Practical With a Storage Area

Most homeowners can relate to having too much stuff and not enough storage. If you don’t have a use for a formal dining room, why not transform it into your storage room? 

Note: If you already have dining room furniture and you don’t want to part with it, this may not be possible if your table and chairs don’t fold up.

10. You Can Even Create Two Rooms

Sometimes a large dining room is too large for your liking. You can separate one large room and create two (or more) smaller rooms. For instance, maybe you want to transform the big room into a bathroom and a play area, or a lounge and bar area. 

11. Create Some Calm With an Indoor Garden

A woman watering her plants
IgorTsarev/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Indoor greenhouses are certainly trending, and for good reason: They can help freshen up the interior of your home and even be part of your new hobby. Plus, they may even improve your home air quality. When arranging houseplants, make sure you do some research about how much sunlight a plant needs.

12. A Game Room Is a Fun Touch

What better way to spice up your home than adding a formal game room? If you’ve got the games but don’t have the space, consider converting your empty dining room into a space for fun. You can set up ping pong, pool, billiards, and really any type of game you’ve got. 

13. Transform Your Formal Dining Room Into a Bar Area

A bar can be a fun addition to your home, particularly when you frequently have social events. It's a great home decor project that you can dress up however you’d like. Plus, if you can’t physically attend happy hour, you can go to your home watering hole. 

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