See how this dining room morphs from unofficial workspace to a stylish, hardworking room that accommodates meals, homework, and gatherings in just three steps.

Let’s face it – in most of our homes, the dining room is used not used every day. Traditionally, this space, in American homes is used for holiday entertaining a few times per year, or for the rare celebrated hostess, once a month.

I propose we re-think this space and elevate the use to a hard-working and chic space which will feed the body, mind, and soul. Anytime a home space can be used regularly, the value of and the enjoyment of the home rises!


multipurpose dining room design by Darien interior designer Tami Smight

Books add texture, history, and character to a dining room. They also tell a lot about the family who lives in the home. It is important to add bookshelves, either custom or ready-made for the library. If possible, storage below bookshelves will be highly valuable. When not used as a dining room, the dining room will offer a peaceful and serene spot to read a good book.

If space permits, adding an armless chair to the corner, tucked near the bookcase will encourage a good read in the middle of the day.


In that bookcase with storage, place the family games, which are easy to pull out after dinner. Consider a few board games, a deck of cards, pads of paper and pencil for keeping score. All of this can be stored in a basket. Depending on your kid’s ages, you may want to have a table that can take some dice rolling, or placemats to absorb the wear on the table.


The dining table becomes a desk after school. The kids can drop their backpacks in the mudroom, have a snack, then open the books for a homework session.

What I love about this, over desks in kids’ rooms, is the family is gathered in one space, easy for a parent to answer questions, while preparing dinner. The added benefit of keeping the student on task is invaluable!

Consider a mobile cart for homework supplies -which will keep the table clutter free when not in use. The cart can roll into a nearby closet, or a basket can be placed on a coat closet shelf.

To make the dining table double-duty as a home office, baskets for storage are a must. Consider the need to protect the table top from damage with either placemats or table pad.


Serving party guests a cocktail before dinner really makes for a great party. Turn to the dining room as a space to gather guests away from the kitchen (where you no doubt need walking room to prepare the meal)

A bar cart can be a permanent addition to the dining room or rolled in on the day of the party. Outfit your cart with all the essentials for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The host can make the first one, then invite guests to refill themselves. Cheers!

Need some interior design assistance or custom drapery for your Darien CT or Fairfield County home?  Give me a call today at (203) 677-1161 to discuss your design challenges.

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