Dining Room Makeover - Part I

You know the old saying, the cobbler's children have no shoes?  We've had that sort of situation in one room of our house since we've moved in.  I've decorated plenty of other people's homes, but couldn't wrap my brain around what to do with our "formal" living room.  

I've never been sold on the idea of keeping a seldom-used space simply because it was designated for that in the days when the house was built. So, rather than make a poor decision on how it should function, we made none, and the room suffered as a nondescript space.  So unremarkable, I don't even have a sad photo to share.

We shifted focus, and spiffed up the adjoining dining room, and it worked fine as again, a rarely-used space.  It was also located in a window-less part of our house, and was basically where light went to die.

Dining room the hour before BIG changes happened!

Dining room the hour before BIG changes happened!


We are big natural light people, and couldn't escape the notion that what we missed most in the dining room was light.  It's a South-facing wall, with a private view, so when we recently decided to punch a hole in it for a big 'ol window, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Dining Room window - Alison Giese Interiors
Dining room after move

The change was immediate, and brought to the surface an idea that had been bubbling in my brain...what if we converted the formal living room to a dining room, and carved out a beautiful, light-filled sitting room where the dining room had been?!  We could combine two infrequently-used spaces into one, and gain something more functional and enjoyable for our family.

So, last Friday night, we had an impromptu furniture-moving party.  *Note: We measured things out first, to make sure the dining room floorplan could work in the formal living room.  We scooted (making it sound like it was easy) the marble-topped dining table and buffet into the "living room", and placed our favorite vintage sofa under the new window.

Sitting room after move

We're talking instant gratification!  The coziness, the way the room opened up was remarkable.  I have some decorating work to do - reupholster the sofa, select and appropriate-sized coffee table, etc, but it's striking to me how much the set-up now resembles our old living room in Rio de Janeiro, with tons of glorious light streaming in.  It's amazing, how one window can change not just the functionality of a space, but your overall attitude towards it!

Our apartment in Rio de Janeiro.  Photo by Emily Johnston for Rue Magazine.

Our apartment in Rio de Janeiro.  Photo by Emily Johnston for Rue Magazine.


The plan is to use our old apartment as a jumping-off point for the design, and loosely recreate that space that holds such great memories for us.  As for the new dining room, we have big ideas in mind for it, too - but that's for another post!