Some people just aren’t formal dining room people—and that’s ok! Maybe you have a more casual dining space in your living room or kitchen and don’t need a formal dining space. Or perhaps you just want to prioritize using that room for something else! Regardless of the reasoning, there are plenty of ways to put your dining area to use that don’t involve a table and chairs!
We’ve all spent a lot of extra time at home this past year, so it’s worth considering the function and practicality of each room in your home. Because you want your space to work for you! And if a formal dining room isn’t what you need right now, don’t be afraid to move your table into storage, stash your spare dining room chairs elsewhere in the house, and make this space more of what you need.
Looking for some ideas of what to do with your empty dining room? Keep reading for some of our favorite unused dining room design ideas and multi-purpose space design hacks! (Pro tip: these ideas all work for spare rooms elsewhere in your house as well!)
1. Make It a Playroom
If you have kids, a great way to switch up the use of your repurposed dining room is to create a playroom for them! This creates a dedicated zone for your kids’ toys and gives them a fun space that’s all their own! (And hopefully, doing this saves some of your sanity, so your whole home isn’t littered with their stuff!)
Start by choosing a large, plush rug in a fun pattern, creating a soft space for your kids to play. For an extra dose of coziness, add a pouf, which makes for a fun seat or backrest while reading. We added some cute artwork to the walls, along with a blackboard for drawing or practicing letters. A kid-size table is perfect for coloring and crafts, and lining the back wall with a low bookcase gives your kids a place for toys, books, and baskets that are all within reach for small hands!
2. Try a One-Person Office
One of our most practical alternative dining room ideas is to make an open office for one! Most dining areas don’t have doors that close them off from the rest of the house—but if you don’t mind the idea of not having a door, you can create a really nice home office in a space like this!
With this dining room home office, we left the middle of the room open so the space didn’t feel cramped and is easy to walk through. We added in additional stools for when someone else stops into your home office to chat. And a narrow and tall wall-mounted bookcase offers ample storage and display surfaces without taking up a ton of floorspace. We opted for a soothing clay color on the wall and in the rug, mixed with other darker earth tones for a space that’s low-stress and promotes productivity.
3. Or a Two-Person Office
Working from home with a partner? Turn your repurposed dining room into a home office for two! To fit in two desks and storage, opt for smaller and more delicate furniture that will give a sense of airiness to the space. Putting the desks against a wall and perpendicular to one another helps make the best use of the space. And hanging a large piece of artwork in between creates some visual space between the two workspaces. With this arrangement, you still have room for a wall-mounted bookcase for office supplies and decor—a must-have for small spaces!
4. Create a Guest Bedroom
Other uses for a dining room? Hosting guests. It may sound weird, but if you don’t have a guest room elsewhere in your home, this is a great option since guest rooms don’t require much space. In this design, we opted for a bed that has built-in nightstands, which creates a minimal look and makes the room feel less cluttered and more open. Since dining rooms don’t have closets, a simple six-drawer dresser is a great add for guest’s clothes. (And you could even use a couple drawers for your own storage!) Opting for Roman shades rather than curtains keeps the windows unobstructed and allows for maximum natural light during the day.
If your dining room doesn’t have a closeable doorway, you could hang curtains for privacy. Or, if you don’t mind undertaking a larger project, you could have French doors installed!
5. Turn an Unused Dining Room into a Home Gym
We love the idea of creating a dedicated space to workout at home! This is one of our favorite alternative dining room ideas of the moment. And a home gym design is easier to put together than you might think. We started by hanging up a pair of infinity mirrors to really establish that gym feeling—you gotta make sure your form is on-point, after all! (Plus, the mirrors reflect light and make the whole space feel more open and airy.) And we opted for a blue-green wall color that adds some energy to the space.
If you have an exercise machine or large equipment, like a bike, treadmill, or ballet bar, make sure to create space for that. Then, just be sure to include space for a floor mat for stretching and yoga, and perhaps a storage bench with baskets for easy organization of smaller equipment! We also hung up a hook near the bike for a towel. But, really, it’s all about making a space that works for your exercise needs and your preferred workout style—so personalize and change as needed!
6. Relax in an At-Home Library Reading Room
Are you one of those people who has always dreamed of having a home library, with a whole wall lined with books and a cozy chair to curl up in and read? Well, maybe it’s finally time to make that dream a reality! One of our coziest alternative uses for a dining room is to transform it into a reading room—creating a space where you can escape and totally relax, complete with a wall of deep bookcases. You can either max out the shelves with books, or integrate some decor and storage baskets on the shelves as well.
Besides shelving, we placed a comfy swivel chair in the corner, along with a side table for your beverage of choice, a pouf for putting up your feet, and a floor lamp for good reading light. Soft colors and natural materials throughout the space make for a soothing and serene setting.
7. Convert Your Dining Room into a Lounge
If you like the idea of having a TV-free living room, you could create a TV lounge in your empty dining room instead! This makes for a fun space that’s dedicated to relaxing, watching movies, and even reading.
To set up this space, opt for an apartment-size sofa and a cool lounge chair to offer enough seating for multiple people to relax but at a scale that won’t overwhelm the space. Mounting your TV on the wall and hanging a small shelf below it for electronics is a perfect alternative to a media cabinet and a great compact space-saver. A C-table is a great versatile and small surface for snacks and drinks—and since it’s on wheels, it’s easy to move it around to where you need it. And poufs are great footrests or extra seats, and can slide under the shelf when not in use!
And if binging TV shows isn’t your thing, you could also create a game room using similar elements! Just swap out the TV and shelf for a coffee table suited for games!
Want some help repurposing your dining room?
This post was updated May 21, 2021