Buying A Home
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Unnecessary Rooms?

It seems that a lot of rooms are going away in homes these days.

 For example, the formal living room has disappeared or become a home office/study, leaving the family room as a gathering place. Also, formal dining rooms have gone away leaving eat-in kitchens as the dining option.

DH and I are looking at a home that has a formal dining room, but it is fairly small and could easily become an office space. This would leave the eat-in kitchen area for dining. It has sufficiant space for a table that seats 6-8 with a bay window. With the way the cabinets and counters are positioned, the dining area is separate from the appliances and food-prep space.

I'd have to decorate it with lighting, an area rug, window and chair fabric, and artwork that could bridge both my informal and formal place settings.

Would you consider making a formal dining space into an office and only leaving your eat-in kitchen to act as both your informal and formal (as the occasion arose) dining option? If you have done this, do you have any tips to share?

Re: Unnecessary Rooms?

  • We just bought our house, and it has only an eat-in kitchen (no formal dining room) and just a family room (no formal living room), and I'm fine with it.

    We looked at a few houses that did have a formal dining room, and our intention with them was to convert it into a home office for my H. (We have one of the bedrooms as an office for H now, but he'll have to give that up when/if we have children that need that space).

    The house I grew up in didn't have a formal dining room, so I doubt I'll ever feel the need to have one of those. If we ever upgrade, I might look for a house with two living areas, but to use one as a children's playroom, not a formal living room.

  • srgwsrgw member
    1000 Comments Third Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    I've never lived in a house that had a formal dinning room. When H and I eventually get to buy a house that won't be a priority for us.
  • It all depends on lifestyle needs. Personally, I like the unnecessary rooms. The house we're buying has family, formal living, EIK and formal dining. We don't have kids yet but when we do, I want to have a section of the house that can have a bunch of kid crap everywhere and a section that always looks orderly and pretty.

    We also have a LOT of family in the area and if we only had an EIK I don't think it would fit everyone at family gatherings.

    I also wouldn't do anything permanent since people here expect the formal living room and dining rooms and I think getting rid of either would hurt our resale value. 

  • Having a formal dining room is the norm around here and was something we wanted.  We have family gatherings during the holidays and need all the seating we can get--besides, there is something "special" about eating in the dining room :)  We also have an eat in kitchen.

    We won't be setting up a formal living room--instead, converting that area into an office.  We plan to close it off with french doors.

    Ultimately, the decision is yours--if you plan to live in this house "forever," then do what you want!  If you plan to live there for only a few years, then don't do anything that cannot be undone since having a dining room is a selling point for many.

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  • image kaylie622:

    It all depends on lifestyle needs. Personally, I like the unnecessary rooms. The house we're buying has family, formal living, EIK and formal dining. We don't have kids yet but when we do, I want to have a section of the house that can have a bunch of kid crap everywhere and a section that always looks orderly and pretty.

    We also have a LOT of family in the area and if we only had an EIK I don't think it would fit everyone at family gatherings.

    I also wouldn't do anything permanent since people here expect the formal living room and dining rooms and I think getting rid of either would hurt our resale value. 

    This is us as well, except I DO have kids and it really is nice to have a space that is dedicated to grown up living.  My priority when we moved into my house was to not let any rooms go to waste.  I actually made it a point to use the formal dining room.  If we had friends over for dinner, I served it in the DR.  

    When my son turned 5 and my daughter was 2 1/2, I finally got around to doing the "formal living room" except it wasn't so much as a formal living room as it was my "girl space"  since H had the garage and the basement as his areas, I wanted a place that was mine.  A gallery wall was put up.  Giant tufted sofa and ottoman...silk curtains. It was absolutely formal, but still the place that I always went to if I wanted to curl up with a book, have a cup of coffee or make phone calls to my friends.  My children were forbidden to even enter that room unless they were reading with either my husband or myself.

    I had friends who converted their FDRs or FLRs to offices and/or playrooms and depending on the setup of the house, I always thought it was strange to walk into a home and immediately be greeted by a giant office or a room with toys.

    If I was ever to convert one of the first rooms to a huge office or playroom, I'd be inclined to put doors on it.

  • My dining room currently has a desk and a dog bed in it.  That's it.

    I have a formal living room. While it's beautiful, I have no use for it.  I wish that square footage was added to the family room, instead. If I needed an office I would have used that area. It would bea good play room for someone if I ever sell.

  • Our current apartment has a an open living room and dining room floor plan with a large eat in kitchen so the dining room portion is currently DS's plays pace.  Most houses around here have a formal dining room or at least the open concept space, but to us a finished basement or family room that is separate from a formal living room is a must because because of DS's toys.  
  • I am not into formal dining rooms or living rooms.  We have young kids and I don't want to be worrying about keeping them out of certain rooms.  So even if we did have one, we would just use it as an office or playroom, or something equally casual.

    My parents do have what I guess is supposed to be a formal living room.  It is separated by french doors.  It is basically just used to hold the Christmas tree during the month of December.  We have never had one and will not likely choose to buy a large enough house that we will ever have to worry about it.  

  • When H and I eventually look for something else, I'll be looking for a formal dining room specifically to convert it to an office/sewing space or a workout room.  We have a breakfast area now, and while it is a little tight, it's all we need.
  • I'm good with no un-necessary rooms. We currently have a living/family room (not sure what the difference is between those two), kitchen, dining room (no eat-in-kitchen) and a powder room on the ground floor. That's it. It works out for us. We finished half of the basement (about 300 sq ft is finished) and that's where we keep the old dinosaur computer, my sewing stuff, and H's band stuff. Upstairs is 2 bedrooms and 1 full bathroom. That's it. We're good. There's only 3 of us.

     

    Speaking of un-necessary rooms...my great-grandma's house is the granddaddy of un-necessary rooms. It's a duplex that was turned into one house. They only took down the dividing wall, so it's pretty awesome. Just on the ground floor there is two kitchens (one is just storage), one is eat-in, a formal dining room, 2 powder rooms, and 3 living rooms. The upstairs is just as big of a maze. I used to love that house when I was a kid. If my great-great aunt ever sells (she moved in when my great-grandma passed) I'd consider buying it... it's really cool.

  • I don't see any of these as "unnecessary rooms" when you plan on having a family.  The house we are buying has a living room, family room and dining room, plus an eat-in kitchen.  We plan on using one of the 4 bedrooms as an office temporarily but eventually would like to expand off the back, creating a great room.  In that case, we'd close off the existing family room as an office so we'd have the master, 2 bedrooms for kids and a guest bedroom upstairs.  I live in New England and I remember how cramped a house can feel mid-winter when everyone's stuck inside, so I don't believe in "unnecessary" rooms!
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  • Maybe I'm old-fashioned. Formal living and dining rooms were necessary on our list when house shopping. We host a lot of family dinners and often entertain friends. We definitely use those rooms on a regular basis. 

    Then again, we have enough other rooms in our house that we have everything else we need. We use an extra bedroom as a craft/sewing room and we have an office/library already, so we wouldn't need to use formal living/dining space for craft space or an office. 

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