Designing a successful dining room requires understanding of space's use


October 13, 1991|By RITA ST.CLAIR | RITA ST.CLAIR,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: Enclosed is a floor plan of our house, which is located on the beach in California. The dining room has a floor-to-ceiling bay window that provides a great view of the ocean. As you can see, however, the dining room has a lot of wasted space. How do you suggest I furnish this room?

A: A floor plan of the room and its location in the house certainly helps me make suggestions. But there are other equally important pieces of information that I don't have available. Most significantly, I need to know how this room can best serve the user -- you.

No design can be truly successful unless it meets the needs of those who have to live with it. But perhaps I'll be safe in assuming that at least a portion of your leisure time is spent watching the sun set over the Pacific. Maybe you'd also like your guests to be able to enjoy the view from your dining room window.

If I'm correct, I would suggest that you take advantage of the space nearest the window by turning it into a seating area that could be used before or after dining. I have sketched one possible furniture arrangement on the accompanying floor plan. It shows a curved seating array, a round coffee table and low occasional chairs that can swivel to face either the window or the rest of the conversation grouping. Such a layout might make for a wonderful setting for cocktails, coffee or dessert.

Dining can still be treated as an important and enjoyable activity in the room. As you can see from my sketch, I advise placing a buffet table against the wall that separates the dining room from the kitchen. Such an addition will facilitate serving.

I also propose placing a 40-by-84-inch long dining table about 3 feet from the front of the buffet and with one of the short sides against the wall.

This will be sufficient to accommodate six people at the table while providing plenty of circulation space between the seating and eating areas. By adding leaves to the dining table, it can comfortably extend to seat additional guests.

The success of this overall design depends on not dividing the interesting rounded part of the room from the rest of the space. So, if your style of entertaining mainly involves conversation around a dining table, you may want to flip the floor plan. In that case, I would put a 54-inch circular dining table in front of the bay window. That will be big enough to seat six to eight people. And I would then use the informal component seating and the coffee )) table as a corner unit against the kitchen wall. The buffet would be moved to the long wall opposite the entrance to the living room.

Either option will work well. To decide which is best for you, first figure out what usage of the room will make you more comfortable. That's really an all-purpose criterion that should be applied in any design project.

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