Makeover The Multiuse Dining Room

Before: Formal but Empty
The Porters’ formal dining room has a prime location in their Idaho home — it’s the first room guests see. But the mostly empty room left a lackluster impression. “We love the idea of combining a formal sitting area snuggled up to the dining table for nice family dinners,” Jacqui Porter suggested when she entered the Save My Room contest. Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Stephen Saint-Onge created the cozy, multifunctional space the Porters envisioned.

After: Versatile Decor
Saint-Onge decided to stick with light walls, similar to the previous wall color, but he pumped it up with a pretty wallpaper. Stephen Saint-Onge put the hardworking elements of a beautiful dining room in place: a large table, upholstered chairs, and a sideboard. The curvy vine pattern softens the hard lines of the furniture.

Before: Misused Wall Space
The Porters tried to give the room personality by hanging family photos on the wall behind the table. The mirror on the side wall hinted at the classic yet modern look the Porters wanted. Still, the walls didn’t reach their potential.

After: Storage Central
A sleek sideboard behind the table adds much-needed storage.A large mirror completes the scene. The sideboard holds reference books and magazines on one side, fine china on the other, and barware on top. Iron lamps with a branch design echo the wallpaper’s botanical motif.  The mirror also performs another function: By reflecting family portraits on the opposite wall, it adds a personal touch to the dining area.

Declutter in Style
The sideboard holds many essentials. Because the dining room is the first room off the front door, mail can pile up here, but tucked-away bins for magazines and baskets for mail catch the clutter. Matching tins with labels help the space look tidy even when the doors are open.

Before: Architectural Details
Before, the room’s only focal point was the marble fireplace. The overstuffed leather chair and floor lamp next to the fireplace were Saint-Onge’s inspiration for this half of the room.

After: Cozy Reading Nook
Saint-Onge turned this area of the room into a library. A pair of bookcases flanks the fireplace, plush wing chairs provide cozy seating, and ample lighting makes this the perfect reading nook. The chairs are another double-duty design decision: The wing chairs can be pulled to the head and foot of the table for large get-togethers.

Pretty Display Space
Open-back bookcases frame the wallpaper and create an attractive display space for books and family photos. Stephen Saint-Onge chose the dark-stained wooden bookcase to ground all the elements in the room.

Bookcase Arranging Basics
The bookcases are decorative and functional. Stacking books both horizontally and vertically, as well as filling bins with books, creates an interesting display. There is also space for a small radio and MP3 player, which provide background music for dinner parties or reading time.

Clever Basket Usage
Woven storage baskets conceal worn paperback books. Store baskets on a bottom shelf for quick retrieval.