I’m back with the 3rd round of our crazy main-floor room swaps (links to other room swaps at the end of this post). Today, I’m sharing a look at how (and why) we flip-flopped our dining room and living room!
Yup, it’s a pretty wild swap…
But before I spend too much time explaining, watch the video below (click here if the video player doesn’t load).
What do you think of our living room – dining room switcheroo?
Honestly, it still seems strange for us (even a full month later) but this switch has been so positive and practical for the current needs of our family.
Here are a few before/after pictures of each space.
Confession: I totally forgot to take “before” pictures as we were so excited to start moving things around. The “before” pictures below cover several years of our living room (they won’t all look the same).
PHOTO = Looking down into the room from the steps.
NOTE: as I mentioned in the video, we are planning to get hardwood flooring in the new dining room and my uncle is building us a farmhouse table… so this space is not complete yet.
Looking into the room from the front door.
Looking into the room from the kitchen.
Standing in the hallway, looking through the living room and dining room.
Looking towards the office area.
Now for the dining room-turned-living room!
This space is finished and we are super happy with how it turned out!
Walking into the kitchen from the mudroom.
See how the dining space is very limited by the walls jutting out on the right? Our front entryway is on the other side, so we can’t remove the wall to make more space.
As you can see from the pictures above, the new living area is finished (and has been finished for a few weeks), however…
The dining room part of this switch is only about 30% complete!
We have big plans for this space, all of which require time, money, and the ability to leave our home to buy things from anywhere other than Amazon!
Here are a few of our ideas:
We plan to install hardwood flooring just like in the rest of our main floor.
My uncle is building us a massive farmhouse table (it will extend up to 12′ long)!!
I want to find a larger buffet or hutch to replace the red hutch.
We’d like to create some type of area for Dave to store all his school stuff (he prefers to work at the table or in our outbuilding, but needs one central “home” for his stuff).
I’m in the market for lights and “garland” to hang from the ladder (I haven’t found anything I like yet).
The photo below is more what I’m envisioning for this space (not exact, but closer)…
Seriously… I can’t wait!
I’ve been envisioning this dining room for years and years — it’s so exciting to finally make it a reality for our home!
Why Did We Make This Switch?
Back when we were first looking for fixer-upper farmhouses from 2008 through 2010, we had a fairly long and detailed list of things we wanted (I share more about that list in this post from 2010).
At the time, this house checked off everything on our list — so we bought it!
However, after we completed our amazing kitchen renovation in the fall of 2012, and started entertaining more, I realized how cramped our dining area felt any time we had 8 or more people crammed around the table.
As we added more children to our family and continued entertaining quite regularly, we’ve talked endlessly about different dining room possibilities that could create more space.
Ideally, I wanted an 8 ft. to 12 ft. long farmhouse table so we could host big dinner parties without feeling super cramped and crowded. I wanted lots of space around the table so people could easily get up from the table without everyone else needing to shift or get up to let the first person through.
The only idea that even seemed remotely feasible was to move our dining room table into our living room. However, that created a whole new set of problems because then where would our living space be?
Our basement is a junky old farmhouse basement, so it’s not in any condition to finish off as a family room, and all the other spaces in our home were “spoken for” by children.
So when Clara moved out of her nursery last month, our wheels started spinning… and we realized we could finally make our ginormous dining room dreams a reality!
To be honest, my desire for a huge dining room table instigated ALL the other changes we made over the past month!
Our ideas fell like a row of dominos as Dave and I quickly realized we could easily make this work with just a few more rounds of “musical bedrooms”!
- Move Clara upstairs to share a bedroom with Nora.
- Move our Master Bedroom furniture into the old Nursery.
- Move the former Living Room furniture into our old bedroom (now a cozy Den).
- Move the dining room table and hutch into the former living room.
- Set up the former dining room as a smaller living space.
- Order braided rug.
- Hang ladder from the ceiling and hope we weren’t making a huge mistake!
It was a whirlwind 36 hours… but our whole family really had fun with it!
Why this switch works for our family:
For starters, we use our dining area SIGNIFICANTLY more than we use our living room.
We eat 3 meals a day around our dining room table.
We do lots of coloring, painting, gak, art projects, perler beads, and various other crafts — all at the kitchen table.
We are now “homeschooling” and do the vast majority of the lessons at the table.
Our “entertaining style” is more centered around food than TV.
We have people over for dinner (and sometimes even breakfast and lunch) several times a month (before quarantine).
When we entertain, it’s almost always for a meal — and then we end up sitting around the table and chatting, or breaking off into smaller groups (some adults go with the kids, guys go one place, women stay around the table, etc.)
We almost never invite friends or relatives over to “watch the game” or “watch a show” so we don’t need a huge media room or living area.
We don’t watch all that much TV as a family.
Yes, our children LOVE watching their favorite shows once or twice a day, but in general, Dave and I rarely watch TV.
I can’t even remember the last time I watched TV aside from a random movie I wanted to see last month (it was SO good) and watching The Crown on Netflix over Christmas break.
We’d rather sit around the table and talk versus sitting in a living room in front of a TV.
We now have the Den as a second living space.
If you watched my video tour last week, you know that we transformed our Master Bedroom into a Cozy Farmhouse Den.
This is the main reason we were able to swap our dining room and living room — because we created a second living space in addition to the smaller living area in the kitchen.
The Den now serves as a fantastic hangout space for our family, so we don’t need to do all our entertaining in the smaller kitchen living area.
A Few Questions We’ve Gotten 628 Times Already:
Where will you have your kids’ birthday parties?
Honestly, this is the number 1 question we’ve gotten so far… and I honestly just don’t understand it.
For starters, we don’t have big birthday parties (just immediate family members).
Also, we only throw a “party” for our children through Kindergarten. We let them have a friends’ birthday party in 1st grade. After that, we just have grandparents over for dinner.
And James’ and Clara’s birthdays are usually celebrated outside.
Finally, we celebrate kids’ birthdays 4 days of the year. The other 361 days it’s just our family. If we need to get creative 4 times a year, I’m OK with that!
But what about other holidays?
Like I mentioned above, the vast majority of our entertaining happens around the dining room table. I make lots of food, we eat lots of food, and then we sit around the table and chat, play games, make Gingerbread Houses, etc.
When we leave the table, we usually break off into groups or go outside. The kids usually end up playing upstairs, the guys usually end up watching TV (which would now happen in the Den). And the women usually stay at the table or congregate in the kitchen (which now has comfy couches and chairs!)
Also, Dave’s mom usually hosts all their family holidays, and my sister lives just down the road from us, so we usually tag-team for my family’s holidays (I cook and serve the food, then we go to her house to hang out since she has a HUGE family room in her basement).
Why on earth do you have CARPET under your table!?!?!?!
This is another question we’ve gotten from so many bewildered people — and yes, I totally understand!
In a perfect world, I would never choose carpet under our table — but as I mentioned in the video tour, our plan is to eventually install wide-plank hardwood in this space (to match the rest of the main floor).
I love the look of a braided rug under a big farmhouse table — however, it will look significantly better once it’s laying on dark hardwood flooring!
Why would you want fabric furniture in your kitchen?
Well, first of all, it’s not my “kitchen” — it’s the former dining area.
Also, my kids ALWAYS want to be in the kitchen with me… and dinner guests often end up milling around in the kitchen while I’m making food — so having comfortable seating for them to hang out with me in the kitchen has been hugely positive!
It’s a darker couch, so it won’t show stains as much — and if it gets dirty, I’ll clean it!
The only thing I purchased for this room swap was this braided rug.
Other than that, we already had everything in these two rooms. They were things I sourced from thrift stores and garage sales over the years… or they were given to us as family heirlooms.
Whew — I hope you enjoyed this tour!
I’ve gotten so many emails from readers who have taken steps to rearrange a few spaces in their own homes after watching my videos!
You may view our other room swaps via the links below.
Do you have more questions?
Ask away in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer quickly!