Just as a room plan frees your mind from your current furniture arrangement, consider whether it is possible to change the use of your downstairs rooms.
Things to consider:
- Is your dining table the correct size and shape? - If there are three in your household, but your dining room is dwarfed by a larger table that is only used for Christmas guests, consider changing it to create more space. A large table top can be created easily from MDF or plywood. It can be covered with a tablecloth and used for entertaining then stored in the garage.
- Do you have adequate storage? - Another reason that dining rooms are under-used is that tableware and cutlery is stored in the kitchen, so setting up a breakfast bar is more convenient for quick meals. Consider splitting your collection and storing some crockery and cutlery in a sideboard, or putting them in modern baskets in the dining room.
- Do you think traditionally? - If you have discounted your dining room because it is too small, think again. Two small bedside cabinets or a corner display unit can provide the same storage as a traditional sideboard or dresser. Fold away chairs and drop leaf tables are now available cheaply and are space-efficient, or you could revamp a second-hand find.
Dining rooms often double as offices or play spaces. Decide whether this is an appropriate use of the space, as there may be better locations for play spaces and offices in the house. But if you want to allocate space for them in the dining room, make them discreet and disposable:
- Discreet - if a computer work station and office filing needs to be stored in a dining area, consider investing in fold away storage that closes to look like a standard cupboard or drawer unit. If you are unable to alter the workstation itself, consider screening it with a concertina style screen or partial curtaining.
- Disposable - are all files absolutely necessary? Anecdotal evidence on office storage claims 40 per cent of paperwork being kept on file is outdated! Similarly, toy collections could be pared down or packed away in rotation. Those in use could be stored in an ottoman or baskets - some laundry storage units can look stylish in a dining room.
Dining rooms are often in traffic lanes within a home. If this is the case in your home, try storing your table against a wall when not in use to make access easier.
When placing furniture ensure that storage doors can open fully. This avoids the need to move a heavy dining table each time a cup is needed from the dresser.
Lighting can have a dramatic effect in dining rooms - clean and fresh for daytime family eating, subtle and romantic for evening dining.