From Useless to User Friendly – A Dining Room Transformation

Messy dining roomThe dining room….how many of us have one and use it for everything EXCEPT dining?! In most homes it will serve as the toy room, home office, TV room, or even a catch all area. The reality is NOBODY really uses the dining room anymore for family meals unless it is a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner…period!

The dining room is typically a large enough area to hold a pretty big table, chairs, and a china cabinet; so it also happens to be some valuable real estate that is being wasted. Store with Style recently transformed a dining room for one of our customers into a more usable area for their needs. We took their unused dining area and turned it into a great space for kids. All the while keeping in mind that kids grow up, houses are sold, and space utilization needs have the tendency to change over time.

So let’s talk about the needs of this particular customer that we were able to address. Hopefully it will get you thinking about some different uses for your space as well.

English toy room Before 1The Cleveland area customer has 2 young children and wanted to create a playroom for them using what was supposed to be the dining room. Many would consider this a bold move as this space just so happened to be adjacent to the main entrance of the home and kids’ playrooms tend to be less than tidy most of the time. But we are always up for a challenge!

English toy room Before 2Tony took the time to walk through the space with the homeowners and talk with them about their needs and desires. It was clear from the very beginning that they wanted this space to be functional but they also wanted it to be easy to keep the area neat and organized.

Making that happen was not an easy task as there were a number of hurdles we had to overcome. There were only 2 walls in the area that we could use for cabinetry. The third wall had a beautiful bay window and there was no fourth wall as the area was adjacent to the open foyer. We were also tasked by Mom with incorporating writing desks into the space that could adjust as the kids grew. One of the cabinets needed a clothes rod so the family’s little princess could hang up gowns and costumes when she was not playing dress up. The homeowners also wanted a counter for storage. And we also needed a storage solution to replace a small freestanding shelf in the huge opening where the foyer met the dining room.

Toy room view from foyerTony started with the largest wall for the bulk of the closed storage. He was able to incorporate 2 small base cabinets on either end of the system. The counter tops were then attached to those base cabinets and also the large cabinet unit in the middle; while still allowing the counters to be raised to accommodate growing kids. The center cabinet section is a combination of two split cabinets and one large pantry that sits in the middle. The different sized doors will allow for a variety of storage insides (including a low closet rod for those dresses) and also added some “personality” to it as a whole.

English Toy Room After 1 - Arts and crafts or buffetAcross the back wall we added an additional counter top attached to two base cabinet units. This was built at ‘standing’ height for use with building blocks or crafts.

But of course, the system can change as the family’s needs change. The additional counter top is also the ideal height for a buffet. In the cabinetry we used adjustable shelving so that it could go from toy storage and dress up clothes to books, extra dishes, large serving pieces, etc. We never wavered from the concept that the area needed to be able to appropriately change with a growing family.

English Toy Room After 2 - Beautiful entryThe finishing touch was the large bench unit in the foyer. This turned out to be a very inviting piece when you enter the home. This beautiful bench seat has storage underneath, a granite top, and fifteen cubbies on the back for additional storage.

We added custom crown molding and baseboard to further complete the ‘furniture’ look of all the pieces in this system.

English Toy Room After 3 - Backend of Foyer BenchThe homeowners were very pleased with the outcome. They were excited about all the possibilities their newly transformed area would provide now and in the future.

Do you have space in your home that you think is being wasted or underutilized? Are their areas that you wish were better organized? Would you like to start transforming the areas in your home to better fit your family’s needs?

At Store with Style you will find a positive and committed staff dedicated to helping make your home functional, organized, and all-around beautiful. We strive to make every area we come into contact with better than we found it. And we want to help you! Give us a call today (440-974-8201) to set up a no obligation in home consult or stop by our Mentor, Ohio showroom!



Kathy does it all for Store with Style. From marketing to customer service, she keeps the family business going day to day. When you visit or call the Store with Style showroom, you will likely be greeted by Kathy; and immediately know you're talking to a friend.