To design a private dining space within the confines of a living room is a common but not easy task. In one house, the room was so narrow that I had already decided to place the sofa at right angles to the fireplace wall, facing a very beautiful garden, revealed through a large picture window.

To divide the space for a dining area, the divider had to be 38 inches high, low enough to provide a degree of privacy, but high enough to store household items and act as a serving counter on both sides.

For maximum storage and privacy, an L-shape was the choice. This meant the table itself was shielded from the living room on two sides. It also meant just that much more storage space within the divider.

A combination of open shelves and cabinets makes use of every bit of interior space on both sides of this structure. I built the divider of wood with a 1-by-4 construction, on a 4-inch-high base to conform to the rest of the room. The cabinets are stock unpainted kitchen base or wall units, depending on the depth required. I combined these with open shelving for fillers.

The most important part of this new structure was the finish; an off-white paint that worked with the woodwork and the off-white upholstery on the sofa.

For the top, I selected 6-inch-square glazed ceramic tile in an elegant taupe earth tone. To complete the look, I tiled the floor of the dining area. Wall-to-wall carpet in the same taupe continues from that line for the remainder of the living room. The single color stretches the space and provides a different and easily maintainable texture for the dining area.

The small window adjacent to the dining table provides plenty of light and air at that end of the room. A ceiling-hung fixture illuminates the tabletop in the evenings. Surface-mounted ceiling spotlights light the top of the divider. It doubles as a serving top for buffet dinner parties or as a bar for cocktail parties.

Storage on the living room side includes party and bar things, well concealed behind doors. Books and games and stored on open shelves. On the dining side, table dishes and glasses, placemats and napkins are stashed on shelves behind doors.

A round table that can seat four, chairs, plants and art combine to make this combination dining-parlor as attractive and private as it is easy to maintain.