An Unused Dining Room Becomes A Chic Family Planning Center

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Today's featured design plan is a project we just wrapped up for our client, Laura. I couldn't wait to share this one because Laura's situation my sound familiar to many of you. She came to us for a design plan for her Formal Dining Room and Living Room. She explained that these two adjoining spaces are rarely used for formal entertaining. She wanted to make better use of the space while making sure these areas still look extra special, they are the first rooms you see upon entering the foyer. 

I got to know Laura's family through the design process. I learned that they love to entertain large crowds, but they tend to do it very casually and not at the formal dining table. When they are having a party, their guests tend to mingle in the kitchen, eat while sitting on the sofa's or at their Grandmother's heirloom drop leaf table. Laura's Formal Dining Room was hardly ever used for dining. However, it was being used daily by Laura and kids for Lego building, matchbox races, homework, sorting mail, working on the computer and for Laura's evening work (she is a teacher). The adjoining Formal Living Room was being used for reading, and for playing on the floor with the kids. 

Our solution for making these spaces more functional for their daily life, and beautiful enough to be the first impression of the home was to transform the Formal Dining Room into a super chic "Family Planning Center" and the The Living Room into a "Reading Room".

Above you can see the inspiration boards we created that illustrate the overall style of the new design. You can also see the true-to-scale floor plan that we provided to show Laura where all of the elements in her design plan should be placed. Since these two spaces are basically one large area divided by two columns we repeated some of the design elements for flow. For instance, we recommended the same paint colors, wall treatment (wainscoting) and drapery for both areas.

In The Family Planning Center we combined discreet storage, lots of work space and loads of style...

We removed her dining set and replaced it with this desk system by Ballard Designs. It includes a large two sided desk and twin cabinets with illuminated glass door hutches for display. This piece allows this space to function as a hard working home office/homework area while offering plenty of discreet storage to keep it looking neat and very attractive. The display cabinets give us an opportunity for some fun styling to keep the room looking less like an office and more like a room worthy of being the "first impression" room. 

To cozy up the space, we suggested a beautiful, wool area rug to be placed under the desk. 

To contrast with the black furniture and to provide softness, we selected a pair of upholstered desk chairs from Ballard Designs (in a performance fabric for stain resistance). 

We recommend this light fixture to replace her Dining Room chandelier...

We placed two of these fantastic storage cabinets across from the desk to offer even more storage. We suggested one cabinet could be used for Laura's school supplies and the other for the kids homework supplies. 

We gave Laura a fun DIY project, to turn a unique thrift store frame turned into a chalkboard.
To finish off the Family Planning Center, we recommended an attractive framed cork board for the space in between the hutches. 

In the new Reading Room, we created a cozy space for Laura and the kids to cuddle up and read. Although you wouldn't know it at first glance, we also designed the room for play time! 

The tables we placed in the space feature beautiful woven storage baskets to house the kids Lego's and matchbox cars. These tables were selected for Laura because they offer a nice flat, lipped surface for the kids to create their lego masterpieces. They are also light weight and easy for her to move should they decide to have a match box race on the floor. 

Speaking of playing on the floor, this area rug gives the floor added softness, in addition to personality. The animal print design is a little sassy while the color palette of gray and black tones it down and keeps it sophisticated. 

Laura already had a nice, neutral, off-white slipcovered sofa in the space so we kept it in the design. To contrast with the white sofa, we selected a reading chair covered in a mid-toned gray fabric. 

 These chunky knit floor poufs are a fun addition for the kids. They also lend texture to the design. 

Below is a page from the design plan that explains our selections for toss pillows. Like myself, Laura is from Michigan. She requested that we incorporate some local goodies in the space to show our home state some love...

Another nod we added to the Great Lakes State is this cute plaque from Etsy. 

To finish off the Reading Room we made suggestions for a mini art gallery, photo collage, lighting, drapery hardware and decorative accessories. The design elements featured in this post are just some of the recommendations we made for Laura's Family Planning Center and Reading Room. 

For more information on our affordable online design plan service, please click here. We currently have openings for new projects and would love to work with you! Thanks for stopping by. 

Online Design Service openings are available. Please click here for details.


  1. Love it all!!! Where is the slip-covered fabric on the chair from? I may have missed it?!.. Thanks in advance!!! :)


    1. Hi Paige! The chair is from Wayfair! Isn't it cute?!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hi Stillwater, thank you! Which items would you like information on?

    4. Hi Sarah! Where are the lamps and dining room light from??

    5. The lamps are from Macy's and the light fixture is from Potterybarn. :)


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