By Max Mervis

Many of us have fond memories of holidays spent gathered around a decked out table in the formal dining room. More recently, in many of my client’s households the dining room is used significantly less than it was in years past, if at all. I attribute this to today’s changing social trends that have significantly altered the way we dine and entertain in our homes, leaving the dining room a ‘dead’ space for most of the year.

Partly out of necessity and partly by choice, the kitchen has become the central gathering place for family and friends alike. This previously off-limits area for guests has evolved into being the heart of the home and the choice of rooms for living, dining and entertaining. In fact, builders are creating larger kitchen and living room combinations, eliminating formal dining rooms entirely. However, if your home does have a dining room that isn’t getting as much use as you’d like, why not transform it into a space that fits your lifestyle? The following are just a few ideas to optimize the square footage of your home by repurposing the dining room.

Enlarging the Kitchen

Enlarging the kitchen will take some minor remodeling but is well worth the effort when the time comes to sell. By removing the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, you will gain extra square footage for the most used space in the house, the kitchen. Extending the cabinetry into what was the dining room will create an architecturally balanced and functional environment. Finally, furnish the room with a built-in banquette or, if the room is large enough, a comfortable seating area and media center and you’ve got the perfect open kitchen and family room combination.

Home Office

Instead of using up all that space with a mahogany table that seats eight, picture it with a handsome desk placed near the center of the room, flanked with stylish office chairs. A room once frequently passed by can now be functional, but remain attractive. Adding built-in shelving will complete the picture, and when selling, the built-ins can easily be converted into china cabinets should the new owners want a dining room. For the few holidays that you do host large dinners, simply clear off the office supplies from the desk, add a table cloth and chairs and you are ready for a more formal affair.

In-Home Game Room

Encourage your kids to play board games as a family, or give into your partner’s long-standing desire for a pool table. Turning the dining room into a game room isn't all that impractical, and it’s easy to keep the room as dual purpose. When you're not entertaining, you can cover the dining table with a pad and it becomes a useful working and playing ground for a variety of activities. If you do purchase a pool table, there are inserts available that will turn your pool table into a true dining table for those special occasions.

Add a Library

Many of us have collections of books tucked away in boxes simply because there’s no place to display them. Repurposing your dining room as an in-home library is an easy yet elegant conversion. Start by having floor to ceiling bookshelves installed along several (or all four) walls, and add comfortable seating and lighting. For a more intimate retreat to indulge in your literary pursuits, consider closing off the room with doors. Since built-in shelving makes for a somewhat neutral backdrop, when the time comes to sell the room can easily be transformed back into a formal dining room should the new owners choose to do so.