It’s Easter, and the heirloom lace tablecloth drapes a table set with cherished china, polished sterling and sparkling crystal. Once again, your formal dining room takes center stage, making priceless family memories. But if this square footage is only used a few times of year, is it really the best use of space? Many homeowners are rethinking that formal space and finding ways for it to perform double duty.

You are what you eat

Consider turning the dining space into an inviting library, combining form with function and style with space-saving solutions. Adding bookshelves can create a functional and dynamic backdrop to any dining room. Try shelving reminiscent of an old French library, or opt for custom wall-to-wall units. Add a comfortable chair and a reading lamp to a corner and take time to catch up on your reading list.


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Traipse through the heyday of formal dining rooms

The colorful book, “The Victorian Dining Room” by Brian D. Coleman, looks at a time when more was so much more. It’s a visual journey through the 19th-century dining room, capturing formal dining rooms at their height of popularity with more than 200 photographs. From silver asparagus tongs to silver spoon-warmers in the shape of a shell, these whimsical and beautiful objects continue to astound even the minimalists among us.


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Store Tableware and Knowledge

The dining room can also be a great space for homework. The formality of the room helps young students stay focused. Add a functional 2-inch hutch/sideboard that stores fine china, notebooks and laptop computers. A simple versatile serving cart can provide extra storage and can easily be tucked in the corner. Use it for entertaining or as a stand for a young genius’s science project.


Easy Maintenance

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We can’t fault a sophisticated, classic dining room. If it’s not being used, why not use it? Add a kid-friendly bench with washable cushions or use easy-to-clean slipcovers on chairs. Try  an indoor/outdoor rug beneath the table. They dry quickly, resist fading and clean easily. Next, institute regular Sunday night dinners or Saturday brunches giving you more chances to make even more memories.