Dining room turned library, finally!

Hello my friends and happy weekend! Hope you have a fun (or just relaxing!) one planned.

We’ve made a big stride in finally transforming the dining room to a library space that I’ve talked about for awhile now. It’s only taken a couple years. ;) Hello…it’s ME.

More than two years ago I got a wild idea to get rid of our dining room and make it into a more useful space for us. We were starting with a very dark, dramatic room:

chocolate brown dining room

Keep in mind this was kind of in between – I was painting the chairs and we had just gotten new floors that reeeeeally made the room feel extra dark. The carpet we had in there before helped to lighten it up.

Thing is, we used this room maybe twice a year for meals. That’s it. Otherwise it was fun to dress up for blog posts, but we never ever used it. I can’t stand that – honestly, the thought of not using space in our home makes me twitchy. I’m not one for “fancy” rooms either – most of our spaces are pretty laid back.

Soooo…I started on the process of building the bookcases to transform this space into a “library.” My Dad and I worked on them for months and they made a dramatic difference to this room. Then for awhile we had our old round kitchen table in the space just to fill it. My husband used it as his office in the summer months so he wasn’t down in the basement. (Lately he’s been in the kitchen – I think we need some windows in the basement!)

Speaking of an office – many of you suggested still using a large table in this room so it could be a desk and a dining room when we needed it. I considered that for awhile, but we always came back to the chairs. We don’t need another big table and we’re not the neatest people. :) I really didn’t want papers and the computer to be the first thing people saw when they walked in to our house either. I think it would be lovely for people that are good about keeping surfaces cleaned off but we’re so not those people. ;)

I have been looking for years for chairs for this space! Our plan all along was always to add four chairs in a circle as a conversational area. But four chairs are expensive – no matter how good of a deal. So I looked and searched and scoured Craigslist and couldn't find anything I loved. I found plenty that looked great online but I just can’t pull the trigger on ordering furniture I’ll sit in online. I have to be able to test it out.

My husband had two requests – they had to have arms and they had to be comfy. I finally found something that worked when I was in World Market a month or so ago and stumbled across the Abbott chairs -- they are super, super cozy: 

World Market Abbott chairs

The bonus is they were on sale down from $300 to $250. Then I got another 25 percent off of that, and then I had a coupon. So I got each $300 chair for about $170 – score!! WAY better than the $300-$400 I was finding online. They only had two in stock so I got those and then did a rain check for the other two.

But when I got the two home I quite loved how they looked by themselves:revamping dining room into comfy seating area

It felt nice and open and welcoming…I was worried four would be too tight.

A couple weeks later two more came in so I stuffed them into my SUV and then put them out with these…and it was waaaaaaay too much for the room. My husband loved it and I always try to go with whatever he likes when he has a strong opinion, but it just wasn’t going to work.

These are large chairs but even smaller ones would have been too busy. And they are crazy comfortable – I can curl up in them and still have room, I love that. More than anything we wanted them to be a spot where people would actually SIT.

I lived with the four for a few days, trying to convince myself that they worked, but alas -- they did not. I wasn’t sad about spending half as much, that’s for sure!:

dining room turned library

One thing in particular that I noticed with the four chairs is that when you came in our front door you saw the back of a chair…it felt all wrong. And if this room was about four to five feet wider it would have been lovely, but I love how welcoming this feels.

So we took the two back and it immediately felt right again. Ahhhh. ;) It’s a perfect mix – cozy and still open. Awhile back I put a lamp on the shelf for my husband while he worked. It adds nice low light for when we sit in here in the evenings:

DIY bookcases with storage

Of course the bookcase lights on a dimmer are awesome too!:

DIY built ins with storage

A few months back I added this dresser that used to sit in my office to an awkward little spot in the room:

black dresser white hardware

It’s in between the library (I think I can officially call it that now!) and the living room. There was supposed to be a small wall there but I asked the builder not to put it in and I’m so glad! I love this little spot now.

So here’s a look back at what the room looked like a few years ago:

chocolate brown dining room

I loved it (mostly) at the time, don’t get me wrong. But I love it so so SO much more now:

dining room turned library

Big transformation, yes? I’m so thrilled that we have a spot to sit in here now. And yes, the living room is right next to it but I’ve known all along we’d use another comfy spot. This is more intimate and just adds another area for us to relax or sit and talk.

The ottoman is one I’ve had for year from Meijer and I plan to build a bigger fabric ottoman on wheels to go in it’s place. We also really need a small table between the two chairs. I have my heart set on one of those tree stump kind of tables but they are expensive! I found on at West Elm that is perfect but it’s $200. Uhhh…NO.

So I’ll keep looking till I find one that’s the right price and look. We LOVE this space though!! For the first time ever we actually spend time in here! I sit out there most mornings and eat my breakfast. The kiddo and his best buddy end up sitting there and just talking…I freakin’ love it. And of course, the animals are curled up on one of them every single day.

The great thing about the two chairs is when we host big parties and I need this space for serving, I can just push the chairs around to the living room or by the windows and we’ll have plenty of space. It’s going to work really well I think. My sister pointed out (when I had her come to validate my thoughts on the four being too much) that with two more chairs that would be hard to do.

Getting rid of the dining room isn’t for everyone I’m sure. But it’s going to work well for our family and I’m really excited how the space has transformed! Do you use your dining space or do you use it for something different? So many builders aren’t even including them in their plans now, isn’t that interesting? I wonder if the formal dining room will be a rare find in the future.

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