As recent as five years ago, we were searching for a home with formal sitting and dining rooms. We had a grand dining table with six chairs and a gorgeous hutch to hold and to display the dinnerware and stemware collected over the years. We had nearly new furniture for a formal sitting room and needed just the right space for it. We decided on a home with a formal dining and a study that we customized into a formal sitting room. We loved it. Here we are, five years older (and wiser, perhaps) and we realize that that premium space is extremely underutilized. We don’t host dinner parties anymore. If we have friends over, we use the breakfast table — the table where we enjoy meals and conversation with family. And here I am trying to figure out how to maximize the way we use the previously formal space.
- 1) The sitting room could (and probably should) be a library or study. Grouping a loveseat, a couple of comfortable chairs and a reading lamp would leave space for sharing a few minutes with friends or family and still provide room for a desk, shelving and some favorite items.
- 2) The space could also be used as a family respite where the younger members of the family might entertain friends. Depending on the age and needs of the young ones in the family, this space might be used as a game room, activity room, hobby room or even a classroom.
- 3) If the budget allows for new furnishings and a little redecorating, the space could be decked out with sofas and chairs that are more casual and have washable covers. It would be the perfect area for a television on the wall allowing plenty of moving-around space (game room) for playing electronic games and enjoying movies (along with tons of popcorn)!
- 4) Another consideration is to use the existing space for the way you intended. For example, serving a simple week night dinner in the formal dining room might make the mac n’ cheese a little bit special. Why not designate Tuesday night as the night to eat in the dining room? Why haven’t I done that! There are many meals at our house that might be better if served in the dining room.
Next time you are trying to visit with a family member over the sounds of the television in the family room, why not head to the formal sitting room? You just might have a semi-private conversation. I say that because, invariably, a young one will follow us. When you sit down at the breakfast table at dinner tonight, decide whether the food might actually taste better if you were seated at the dining table. I think I’ve resolved the issue of my underutilized premium space. I hope you come to a decision about your room(s) soon.