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Flexible Spaces for Modern Families: Make the Most of Your Dining Room

by Kuhrich on Thursday, October 31, 2013

Between business dinners, soccer practice, homework, school projects and long work hours, modern families are cramming their schedules full of every activity imaginable. With families living such full lives, meal times have transformed from sit-down events into dine-and-dash moments. When families do make sitting down for a meal together a priority, they typically gather around a kitchen table rather than in the traditional dining room. At best, most dining rooms only see any action on the large holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

There is no reason to let a traditional dining room gather cobwebs. Dining rooms are usually large, open spaces that occupy prime real estate within the home. This makes them perfect candidates for transformation into whatever functional space you need. With a little creativity, your dining room can keep pace with the changing needs of your family.

Large spaces for little people

It’s no secret that children need a lot of things. Large toys such as play kitchens, train tables and block collections will quickly overwhelm a child’s bedroom. With ample floor space, a dining room easily converts into a play space. Dining rooms are also generally located near the kitchen and living room, with makes supervision a breeze. To make the switch, try covering the floor with easily washable rugs, or even squares of artificial grass for an outdoor feel. Replace the formal table with a low table for art projects. Low shelves with fabric bins will help to keep clutter at bay. Also, don’t over pack the space. Open floor space is idea for building with blocks, racing toy cars and twirling around in a princess dress.

Study Hall

As toys give way to textbooks, the dining room offers another opportunity for transformation. Older children need a space to learn, study and complete homework. Adding a few small desks, or small table, to the area provides a space for learning that is distraction-free. Setting up a computer station in a transformed dining area allows for easy supervision of Internet activities. Also, consider adding a few floor pillows to the space to provide a comfortable spot for reading.

Teen Retreat

For teens, life revolves around their friends. Once again, the dining room provides the perfect space to transform into a teen hangout. Toss in a comfy couch and television set and teens will be able to play video games, watch movies or gossip with girlfriends without monopolizing the living room. You can also put in a small fridge for snacks and drinks.

No matter what stage your family is in, a dining room easily transforms into the space you need. Perhaps the memories you make in the dining room won’t be of carving a turkey or lingering over meals. Instead, they might be of learning, laughing and learning. Whatever you use it for, the dining room still has a place in the modern home.

+Ken Uhrich is lead Estimator and Purchaser at Custom Home Group, a Design/Build company, located in Lancaster County, PA. You can follow Ken on Twitter: @kuhrich Or visit his company website: www.customhomegroup.com