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What are Some Ideas for a Multi-Functional Dining Room?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Living in small spaces can be challenging. One room must often do the job of two or three. Yet, if the room looks like it works that hard the results can be nothing but a confusing, cluttered mess! A multi-functional dining room can be both efficient and attractive if the storage is well planned and executed.

The first step in multi-functional living design is to decide exactly what you need in the room. Do you need dining room office or study space for one or two persons? How often do you entertain? Is the dining room needed for eating daily? The answers to these questions will guide your planning process.

A dining room table can function for eating and as a desk area.
A dining room table can function for eating and as a desk area.

Next, you need to define the space. If you don't entertain that often and you have a dining table with a leaf, you may be able to have the dining table in the center of the room with one or two armoires in the corners, plus either a buffet table or china cabinet. The trick is that inside the armoires will be mini offices! You can have a computer stored in here as well as everything you need on shelves you install. Add a wastebasket kept under the desk top when the armoire is closed and your work space is there when you need it and hidden when you don't.

Fill the china cabinet with the dishes you use daily and/or for entertaining and place a nice centerpiece on the dining room table. This multi-functional dining room will look only like an eating space as long as you contain the work spaces within the armoires. If you're using two armoires, you may want to use a buffet table rather than a tall china cabinet to balance the height in the room, but any combination may work depending on how much space you have in your multi-functional dining room.

If you don't have much room and will need to use your dining table as a desk, you can still have a multi-functional dining room that doesn't look like an office. In this case, closed storage must hold all of your office supplies. You can even label your shelves and have stackable bins or other containers on the shelves to hold everything you need. Make sure to designate an area on a shelf to neatly hold the project you're working on when it's time to stop work for the day. This way you'll be able to just take the work out of the storage unit, place it on the table and start right where you left off.

Discussion Comments


When your dining room needs to be multi-functional I think one of the keys is to be as organized as you can be.

There are some great ways to stay organized that look nice and fit in well with your decor. I know when I have to use my dining set as an office desk, I have a storage unit to keep all of my papers in.

This way I know where everything is, yet can quickly get it off the table when I need to. It can be hard to get everything done in a small space, but if you are unorganized, I find it almost impossible.

I have also found out that armoires are very useful. There are so many creative ways you can use these, and all you have to do is close the door and everything else stays nice and neat.


If you don't have much space, but like to have the option of a larger table, buying a dining room set with a leaf in the table can make a big difference.

Depending on the size you get, sometimes you can double the number of people you can get around your table.

Every time we had a family gathering we would always put the leaf in the table to make sure there was enough room for everyone.

We also used a corner hutch to store dishes in for easy access. This took up less room when it was in the corner, but still worked great as a storage unit without taking up the whole wall.


I have lived in some small places where I had to be pretty creative when it came to using the small space I had available.

In one apartment, my small dining set was my kitchen table, dining room table and desk. Many times it was both a desk and eating place at the same time as I would work and study while I was eating.

There was no place inside my kitchen area for a table, so my tiny 'dining room' became the area where I spent most of my time.

If I was the only one there, I would leave the table against the wall to leave more space to walk around it.

When I had other people over, I could move the table to the center of the room and put a couple more chairs around it.

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    • A dining room table can function for eating and as a desk area.
      By: Dmitry Pistrov
      A dining room table can function for eating and as a desk area.