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More Ideas for the Dining Room

by | Nov 7, 2015 | Decorating Inspiration, My Dining Room, My Seattle House

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More Ideas for the Dining RoomJessica Helgerson Interior Design

I‘m finally back to share more ideas for the dining room! So sorry for the delay, I was all ready to post and then BAM! Technical difficulties. Also, many of you might have missed a week or so of posts. If you receive my posts via a Comcast email address, there have been periodic glitches over the past year that occasionally keep your posts from being delivered and I don’t realize it until someone emails to let me know. Hopefully you are back now!

When I shared about our dining room last week, I talked about the option of adding built-in bookcases. We are still very interested in the character that built-ins will provide, but we have several other options we’ve been thinking about as well, so I thought I would come back and share a couple more ideas with you.

While there are a lot of great ideas we might love, our main objective in this house will be to spend the least amount of money and get the most bang for the buck as far as additional charm and personality.

So my daughter Courtney and I had seen a photo of a dining room looking into a kitchen that really intrigued us. You can see it above. Of course, we love the kitchen in the inspiration photo. But what we also loved was the archway between the two rooms. An archway is always charming. We’ve lived in several homes with arched doorways between rooms, so we were instantly in love. In a house that is very boxy, a little curve could make a real difference in its cozy and friendly-factor.

At first we told ourselves you can’t do an arch in a house like this. Perhaps you are thinking that, too. But then we said, WHY NOT? It’s so easy to be derailed from what you would love and what would look great in a house by worrying what the “right” thing is to do, and fearing doing the “wrong thing.”

Some of you may be purists who feel this home should have only straight openings for doorways. Certainly there are houses where you want to preserve architectural accuracy, but in our opinion this is not one of those times :). Our goal is to add charm, not create a time capsule. Interestingly when we looked around our house, we noticed that our interior doors all have a double arch moulding. We do love that another arch would tie together what is already a feature in the house.

But we really wanted to visualize it, so we brought in some painter’s tape and framed out a new look for our doorway just to see what an arch might feel like. So while this is only one idea among many we have for this space, we instantly loved how much charm and warmth even just one arched doorway could bring.

More Ideas for the Dining Room

We also put the table back into the corner to simulate a possible built-in banquette. What if we built in benches around the corner walls and slid a table up next to it? That idea was intriguing too, as it created a cozy niche to sit on a bench and look out at the water, or to enjoy a family dinner. Having a table in the corner also helped balance out the weight of the room and in real life it makes the room feel bigger as well! It’s also a great arrangement for allowing plenty of space to walk through to the kitchen.

We could also include built-ins on the window side of the room to make it a very functional and cozy space.

Below are a couple of banquette inspiration pictures so you can get a visual of what it might look like to have a banquette (not necessarily the exact style, but more of the concept).

More Ideas for the Dining RoomStudio McGee

More Ideas for the Dining RoomTraditional Home

More Ideas for the Dining Room
Right now we just have random furniture sitting around the room so all of that needs to go to streamline the space. If you missed our post with our kitchen window seat idea, see that post here! We think that window seat in the kitchen would be an adorable sight to see through the doorway (whether we have an arch or even just an opening).

More Ideas for the Dining Room
A couple of you have asked for room measurements and floor plans so I’ll try to get the room measured soon, so you can better imagine the space. It’s a nice sized dining room. Not huge at all, but not too tiny either. But since you definitely have to walk right through the room to the kitchen and it does feel a bit tight when the table is in the center. A banquette would solve the space issue, plus of course add personality.

If we built in a buffet under the window (where that random sofa table is sitting) we’d have an extra surface and storage space underneath which would be really nice with a smaller kitchen.

More Ideas for the Dining Room

There are lots of charming possibilities for this corner for character-building!

We have also thought about removing part of the kitchen wall in the dining room, perhaps creating a half-wall, to make the kitchen a little more open to the dining room. This was an idea I shared before we bought this house (above). It might not work due to the arrangement of our kitchen, but I always love this inspiration pic (below) so we aren’t ruling out the option of removing all or part of the wall. In all likelihood though, we are going to preserve the layout of the kitchen which would mean living most of the wall intact. Thus, the appeal of the arch.

More Ideas for the Dining RoomCrazy Mary

More Ideas for the Dining Room

Another possibility is to keep the dining table in the middle and raise the ceiling, possibly even just the center part of the room like the ceiling in our old dining room. The ceilings here are normal 8 foot ceilings, but a little vault or a boxed ceiling with wood on it might be a charming addition as well. We have an attic above so we could do some sort of vaulted ceiling, but we aren’t sure we will invest in that project, at least at this point.

You might have noticed that we removed our ceiling light fixture. It was too distracting to have it off center as we are moving furniture around, and we wanted to be able to better visualize our options! It really helps to take things away so you have less for your eye to have to compensate for as you reimagine your room.

So, those are a few more ideas that we’ve been tossing around. We have so many projects to attend to all over the house that we really want to weigh each option carefully to make sure we choose what makes the most sense, not only to our eye, but to our wallet :).

I love having a more clear vision for this house. I’m so excited that even a few simple changes could add so much personality and make it a very cozy and charming home!

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  1. Brookie

    I vote for removing as much wall as possible- opening what appears to be two rooms on the smaller size- into the appearance of larger brighter inviting spaces. It will make it feel more inclusive vs separated especially if it is a passage way. In the NorthEast Buyers love open spaces- gathering spots.

    • Rosemary

      I agree completely!!

  2. Jo

    I love the idea of the banquette style seating with built-in server/ book cases. Would you be able to,use your same table though? I think putting in ship lap paneling on the wall would look lovely, tho you hadn’t mentioned that, you did that in your other house in places and I think that would look great here. Love the arch opening! Remember, no RULES…its your home, go for it…it is romantic looking. I think your dining room will be cozy, almost like you you are in your own corner of a nice restaurant with your family, or a fun coffee shop with friends enjoying the view! Good luck with your Reno! It will be lovely.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Jo, I think the shiplap on those walls would be wonderful!! I think I could even keep my table, especially if the corner bench was slightly rounded to fit the curve of the table? Things to think about! :) I think it sounds like a romantic corner, too, I’m so glad you think so too!

  3. Barb

    I think I prefer a built in in the corner keeping your table more centered(well a little off center. ). Somehow the room seems a little bigger that way I think with having space on either side of the table. I love the arch but if you go the route with the “window” half wall, I love that! You could do a “half” built in below it on the dining room side. Whatever you choose will be amazing I’m sure and an inspiration for my home as well! Ps, I got two copies of your book last week, one for me and one as a gift. I cannot wait to go through it!! Barb

  4. Victoria

    The half wall with glass enclosure would be amazing! You can still do the banquette in the corner… It would really open up the space and be totally unique. Whatever you choose will be beautiful –

  5. shala

    I think the widows along with the banquette would be fantastic, that way you get light and seating space! Please do the arch, it will add so much character and let in even more light, which is so needed in our environment.
    Good luck!

  6. Joanna

    I love banquette seating and it would be perfect for your narrow dining area. It will give the perception of more space. I like the arched doorway. Great inspiration pic. I love thinking out of the box.keep us in the know. Lol

  7. Melissa J. Spivey

    First I have to tell you how much I throughly enjoyed your first book, perhaps my favorite design books ever, and your second book does not disappoint! It is beautiful, encouraging, oh so helpful, and actually edifying. As far as your new Seattle house goes, every time you share a post with new ideas, I feel like a kid who just viewed all the presents under the tree. Thank you so very much for sharing your process with us! I’m so seeing the possibilities for your kitchen and dining room. I can see the banquette, and all the ways that would allow for better flow. Your bookcases, with or without window seat, surrounding the window, for your library dining room look and expansion of your living room. It is going to be oh so beautiful!!! One part of your floor plan that I can’t figure out. The entry, to your kitchen, across from your dutch door ; ) Is that an necessary entry? Could you put refrigerator there, thus opening up the current refrigerator wall for counter space? Also it might allow for a great closet and or expansion of dining room . . . . See what you have created in me : >

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you so much!! :) So fun to think about the possibilities, isn’t it? Ha! Hmm, I like that idea in general but it is kind of tricky. I’ll have to post the floor plan so you can see, and explain what is where. There is a stairway on the right dining room wall where the banquette would go. On the right side of the fridge if you go through that door you would get to the main entry wall and the stairway going downstairs. There is a bedroom behind that refrigerator which we have considered if the kitchen could actually be bumped into there, or even just a large pantry or butlers type pantry area but it would eliminate a bedroom (which we could possibly reconfigure one downstairs to make up for it). Also the wall with the fridge is really pretty useful storage as it is, I’ll post on that side of the kitchen soon, too. Of course, the more bumping and reconfiguring, the more cost. Ha! Sigh. So many possibilities! It’s fun to dream about all of them!

  8. Karen

    Go for the arch! You won’t regret it. And making the doorway even a little wider can make a huge difference. When we remodeled our kitchen, we put an arched doorway from the hall, and then we took out a wall between the dining room and kitchen and made it a WIDE arch. I love them both!

  9. Nicki

    I like the banquette idea for this reason: You can squeeze small people/grandchildren together on a bench. My husband and I and are sons are tall people with big builds so we wanted comfortable chairs for each of us. Our table seats 8 comfortably on our big wooden Early American style chairs which is just right for the adults. We weren’t thinking of grandchildren which we now have. Not much room for them but if one or all of the side chairs were replaced by benches, we could squeeze more little ones in. I’ve lost track of how many grandkids (if any) you have but it is something to plan for when placing your table.

  10. Delta

    I love your ideas! Have you considered building a bench seat from wall to wall under the window and putting your table on that side of the room? You would be able to sit at the table and look out at your beautiful view. A big mirror on the wall opposite the window would allow those seated on the bench to enjoy the view also. Just a thought… fun ideas you have – and yes! the arch!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks so much! Yes, we explored that idea too. It would be amazing, wouldn’t it? But I think it would just make the room feel tipsy and weighted on that side. Perhaps there would be a way to compensate for it, though. Somehow it just feels right in the other corner, a bit more balanced I guess? Love thinking through all the options, it’s just fun to imagine!

  11. Christie

    I love the banquet in the dining room; it would create a diagonal balance with the kitchen bench which seems to work really well in mid-century houses. The space will feel like a special table at a favorite cafe.

    I like both ideas for the doorway wall, and like you, I usually go with the most feasible and affordable plan. But I do love that example with the interior window.

    What if you were to widen the kitchen doorway all the way to the exterior wall and (incorporating support structure at that point) spanned the built-in between the dining room window and the kitchen window?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, I think you are right. The banquette would make a nice balance with the kitchen bench diagonally across from it. We could widen the door all the way, that is another option! Such good ideas to consider!

  12. sandyc

    I absolutely love your ideas for the dining room. Your pix above are taken from the entry to the dining room which is good, but I went back to your house tour video and looked at the whole scene from the entry to the living room and it’s going to be fantastic. The eye will be immediately drawn across the entire space to that wonderful view out the kitchen window (with no dining table and light fixture to interfere). The arch and the way you have it drawn to incorporate more of the wall to the left is perfect. The banquette will be your dream come true – I remember a recent post when you wished for one but couldn’t make it work. Now you have the absolutely perfect spot for it and I think it will suit your family much better than a formal dining table setup, and the buffet with storage under the window is great. I also love, even more now, the window seat in the kitchen. Grand spot for your gals to sit and drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and chat with you or take turns helping while you cook in the kitchen. And when they’re not there, Jack and Lily can keep you company (I’m sure you’ll choose a puppy-friendly fabric.). You have a special knack, Melissa, for getting us involved. I almost feel as if I were working on these very same projects in my own house and it’s fun.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks Sandy, oh GREAT idea to look at the video so you can really get a more full view. I’m glad you like the ideas. And thank you for remembering, you are right I really have wanted a banquette for quite some time and never have had a spot for it. This might be the perfect place for it! Ha, and I bet Jack & Lily would vote YES on the kitchen bench. Perfect to invite people into chat with me or to sit down with my morning coffee. Love it! I love having people to share these adventures with, it is almost like you are all coming over to brainstorm and we are figuring it out together!! :)

  13. Yvonne

    I would go with the builtin banquette for sure and then built ins on the wall across just like you said. I think it would work well in that room. I love the arched doorway too but somehow I am envisioning an arched transom window or moulding around the arch. I think that would be so charming.

  14. Gretchen

    Here’s my humble opinion ?: I think setting the table off-center as a banquette is definitely the way to go. It makes the room feel larger, allows for better traffic flow and now the window view becomes the star of the room.

    The arch adds a ton of character and interest to that side of the room. Go for it!

    I would create a full wall of built-ins around the window and even above the window would be a dramatic feature in addition to providing incredible storage. Closed storage below with open shelves for dishes, platters, etc on top. You can never go wrong with built-ins!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      So glad you like it! I do feel like it just seems right. And I love the idea of the closed storage below with open above, it would really make it feel like an extension of our kitchen to have all that additional storage!

  15. Charlie

    I love the idea of an arched doorway. We had a new ranch home that had several arched doorways and I loved them. Go for it!

  16. Debi@Add Value To Your Home

    WOW!!! Lot’s of ideas Melissa! Your head must be spinning. I like the half wall idea. It really opens up the kitchen. When you’re in the kitchen, you can still get in on the conversation in the dining room. I wish we had done a half wall in our space.

  17. aussiebushgirl

    Can you widen the arch? Tall and narrow somehow detracts from the view you’d like to achieve. Having the banquet will save on space, but you run the risk of turning the dining room into an extension of a kitchen nook. On the other hand it is preferable to having to skirt around a central table when you need to get into your kitchen! It’s a difficult one and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction it takes. Hugs, heather x

  18. Bonnie Dewkett

    I love the inspired light fixture above the almost looks like an outdoor fixture, but so adorable! I also love the utility bar outside the kitchen. What a great spot for organizing items!

  19. susan maclean

    You really like that cut through picture….. you could do that in this new house and incorporate a larger arch which spanned the entry and also the cut through?

  20. Jann from Newton Custom Interiors

    I love the idea of the arch doorway too. As soon as I saw the picture of the dining room with the table over to one side, I thought the flow to the kitchen was great. Love the idea of the banquette too. Again, very excited to see what you end up doing in this new house! I would love a floor plan of the house too.

  21. Sheran Steading

    Love the idea of the banquette and keeping the table out of the center of the room. There are so many good reasons for this: traffic to the kitchen, visual to the kitchen (whether you get the arch or not) and STYLE!!!!

  22. Mindy

    My sister’s family moved into a new house a few years ago and their doorways have arches. They’re very pretty. Her dining room to kitchen walkway is similar to yours, as well. They have plans to open up the kitchen to the room, also, but with all the reconfiguring of the appliances that will need to be done, it just hasn’t made it into the budget yet. The pictures aren’t fantastic, but here’s a post I did on move-in day.

  23. Patricia

    I have an arch way between the living and dining room. It’s much wider than yours shown above and very in keeping with our brick tudor style house. I love it. Ours is wide enough we can angle the dining room table out thru it when having very big dinner parties. Have fun with yours.

  24. Maggie

    I’d vote in an opinion but you are the best at what you do.. I love you are taking your time and reviewing different options.. You are certainly letting the house speak her “language”. Over on lettered cottage she does computer imaging that is awesome. It actually puts your ideas into your rooms. I’m sure you have seen it. It’s awesome…maybe you could try it.. Have a great week.. Maggie @magsjag

  25. Susan

    yes to the arch! yes to the banquet! I have always wished for a banquet and with the bookshelves your thinking of adding, it would be perfect. I say go for it! I also love that picture you shared with the windowpane separating the space between the kitchen and dinning room. That would sure open the kitchen up so much and play into the cozy “cafe” space you are creating in the dining room

  26. Adrienne

    I see you already have the coffee station set up! He he, but I should have guessed that, we in the northwest sure love our coffee!

    I think your ideas are great, it could make a really charming corner! Another idea if you’re willing to entertain it, is to add a “window” opening above above where your coffee station is now that opens into the kitchen. This could create some visual space (plus allow talking to the person in the kitchen) while still keeping the main layout of the kitchen intact.

    Just an idea :)

  27. Angelika Avery

    You totally get my vote on the banquette. I love that idea, and I would NEVER have thought of it. Way to think outside the box. The arch will be wonderful too. Maybe you can open up the kitchen later when money is less of an issue.

  28. Mary Margaret Brotherton

    Hello! I have not read the previous comments on this post, so this comment may be redundant, but I think your ideas for the arch, window seat and banquet are ingenious! I think it will make this whole area of your home so wonderful to be in! Amazing how just a few tweaks like the ones you and your daughter thought of for this will make a dramatic and very practical impact. I love before/after home projects and I will be excited to see this transformation in due time! Exciting!

  29. Syrie Marcum

    Good morning! I don’t know what you’ve done in this room, since this was first posted, but I agree with removing as much wall as possible between the dining room & kitchen would really open it up. I also like the idea of a built in window & bookcases around the window in the dining room. I think that would some much-needed character. It would also balance out the table placement on the side of the room vs. being in the middle.


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