The best kind of dining room is one that can be used at other hours for reading, working, gardening, games, music or even sitting. Dining rooms can double as libraries, home offices, greenhouses, game rooms, music rooms complete with piano, and spare family or living rooms.
For one family who had no family room, I designed a family-dining-room that works for both generations.
The house is small and Victorian. High ceilings take the place of usable square footage, and though the spacious living room was added, as a social space for entertaining, the original "front parlor," with its charming bay window, has almost no room for family sitting and is too stiff and formal for loungy furniture.
The dining room, on the contrary, is a large spacious room, with another large bay window, and opens directly onto the kitchen, making it a natural for a family room. The gateleg table folds into a neat small rectangle and the eight dining chairs are small enough to fit conveniently around as extra seating.
To make the space work for family use, especially teen-age boys and girls who have no other place to entertain their friends, I designed a comfortable and inviting window seat, decked out with many soft pillows, in the bay window.
On either side of the bay are two twin storage units designed to hold stereo equipment, records and tapes. Speakers are wall-mounted above. Opposite the new windows seat is another larger cabinet, which doubles as dining room storage and a place to store the family television set.
When teen-agers want to convert the dining room into a party room, they have only to fold up the table and set it along the wall, to use as a server for fastfood items for their friends. The polished old wood floors make a made-to-order dance floor, and the other surfaces are as maintenance-free as modern science can provide, making housekeeping worries disappear.
The color scheme is classic. The frame of the window-seat lounge is white, painted in semi-gloss enamel like the rest of the woodwork. The dining table is covered in white plastic laminate.
Bentwood chairs in a natural light wood blend with the wood floors. A zippered, washable brown and white batik is used for the window seat and its many pillows. Trees and plants take the place of draperies or shades in the bay window, filtering the light.