I'll be vulnerable here for a minute. Full disclosure. The real deal.

I don't use my dining room table for meals.


Well, unless we have company, or a party, in which case the adults stand around the kitchen and the kids eat there, but that is the exception, not the norm. At one such party last weekend, a friend and realtor asked me what people are doing with their formal dining rooms these days, and how I'm seeing them used in re-design projects, and it got me thinking about how to get the most out of what has become a seldom used space in many homes.

So, here are my 5 ideas for re-purposing your dining room!

1. Create more space for your kitchen!

By taking out the wall between the oversize dining and undersized kitchen spaces, you have the opportunity to expand your counter space, or explore creative options you may not have considered yet.

2. Home office escape

Years ago when we renovated our current home, we opened the dining room up to the kitchen, took down all the walls, stretched the kitchen half way into the old dining room footprint, and used the remaining space to create a home office space. I'd show you pictures, but it's a mess, so here is a shot of someone else's dining room transformed into a home office, no walls removed. What a great space for your 'from home' business venture!

3. Gym or Yoga Studio

Lets imagine for a second that you have to walk past your gym everytime you go to the kitchen for a bag of doritos? or you can do your morning yoga routine within earshot of the kids having breakfast? maybe even create a family friendly home gym space to share with your partner or kids for a quick workout, rather than sitting around the TV while waiting for dinner?

If that appeals to you, this idea may be worth exploring!

4. Craft or Hobby Space

Getting into winter has me thinking of crafting and home hobbies again. If you love exploring different creative mediums and are currently lacking a space to spread out and create, consider transforming your dining room into a home studio space.

5. Kids Play Room

If you are a young family with kids under 10, a play room is a great way to get more utility out of your dining space. The benefits are three fold- the toys have a place to live, kids have easy access to their own space, and you can keep an eye on them when they are young, while working in the kitchen.

Obviously, these solutions won't work for everyone. If you still need a formal dining space, but want more ideas for how to create a Multi-Purpose dining space, stay tuned. I'll write about that idea soon!


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OK, so lets talk about pictures. This project is big. IT IS SO BIG! You will spend more money on your home than you will anything else in your life, and put great trust in the contractors and suppliers you will worth with throughout this project.

Wouldn't it be helpful if you could tell them what you are expecting? some sort of tool to communicate what you want the finished product to look like?

ah, a finished picture of what it will look like when its done!

Doesn't it help when you can see the results for themselves? before committing to tearing down walls, ordering windows and signing the dotted line on your cabinet order?

One of the key benefits of working with a space planner directly, rather than going through the kitchen cabinet maker, or contractor, is that we get to sit down and do this together. 'What would it look like if' is not a question, but a strategy for designing a space that is a reflection of you, while considering where to best put the garbage, cutlery and microwave.

As they say... a Picture is worth a thousand words.

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I get so many calls from people who have no idea where to start with their project. The confusion of a first time renovation, combined with the uncertainty of who to hire and what to do yourself can leave you scratching your head! There are so many design professionals that you can enlist the help of, but how do you choose, and who is responsible for what?

Renovation Consultant- That's me! or some one like me. Your renovation Consultant is the person you sit down with to brainstorm and come up with ideas for how to achieve the results you want in your space. You will work together to come up with a plan that fits your space restrictions, budget, and taste. If you are starting from scratch, they can develop a master plan to get you started. As your project progresses, a Renovation Consultant can also act as a coach, helping you problem solve and brainstorm as issues or complications arise.

Interior Designer- These professionals are an amazing resource for both general design input, or whole project planning and oversight. IF you are starting completely from scratch, a consultation with an Interior Designer might be a great way to kickstart your project, or get a fresh set of ideas. IF you are looking for someone to completely oversee your project, including making selections, sourcing product, and hiring managing contractors, an interior designer could be a good fit for you.

General Contractor- This person is the backbone of your project. Their job is to take your vision and make it happen. They work with you or your Interior Designer. They have a roster of either employees or subtrades to look after demolition, framing, drywall, electrical, plumbing and installation. They bill in a few different ways, so make sure you have a clear contract outlining cost estimates, payment schedule and work to be completed. Ask for references, even if their name was provided to you by a friend or colleague. If they haven't done work for at least 3 people who will vouch for their integrity and quality of work, keep looking.

Self-Contracting- If you are incredibly organized, hard working and resilient, then there is the possibility you can self-contract. I say resilient because it is not for the faint of heart. There is a reason many choose to just pay a contractor to set all this up and see it through. That said, if your project doesn't involve moving anything structural, or major electrical/plumbing, you may be able to oversee the work yourself. You'll need a few friends along the way though, and a Renovation Consultant can help coach you through getting the right trades lined up, and establishing a budget and timeline.

DIY- If you are truly hand, crafty, and not working on a tight timeline, you can do a lot of the work yourself! If you have some good quality tools, and don't mind getting a bit dirty, you can do demolition, tile your kitchen floor, patch some drywall and put up some new moldings. A few things I would leave to the professionals include kitchen and counter-top installation, major electrical and plumbing re-fit, and moving heating sources.

The team you have behind you should make you feel good about your project. If you get an off-vibe from anyone, pull the plug. Everyone you bring into your home should have the same passion for your project that you do.

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