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Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}

by | Jan 27, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration, Dining Rooms, My Dining Room, My Seattle House

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Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}Southern Living Idea House with Bunny Williams

Now that our side yard is underway (insert big squeal of JOY!! I will admit, I look at it dozens of times a day!), I’m starting to connect the spaces in my dream planning. Meaning, I would love to have a home that flows well from room to room, as well as from inside to outside whenever possible. Even when you don’t have the ideal setup (whatever that might be in your own  mind), it’s good to make sense of your design decisions, making the very best of what you have to work with.

If we proceed with the kitchen being relocated to the dining room (which is the winning idea at this point, but you know, minds can change!) and if the new dining area is relocated to the existing kitchen (with a banquette along one wall) we will still have a single door out to the porch, which will lead to our small side yard. That layout is already existing, but it wasn’t used as effectively as it could have been and it was lacking in charm. I think using the space you have more effectively and simply adding charm to it is so much fun. Oftentimes being budget-minded makes you think more creatively about what you have, which I really love.

The door (which will be a Dutch door, as I’ve said probably a trillion times already, hahah, EXCITED MUCH?) will remain the size it is, no installing big grand double doors out to a glorious backyard, but it’s a door that can be made more charming! And for that, I say, YAY! And now that the side yard is getting a makeover, that door is going to lead to a very cute outdoor space for our BBQ grill and seating, so I’m THRILLED.

It is so nice to have a starting point to work with that we know we will love (as it is our first project). That space is inspiring me to connect the dots between the outside, that dream-to-come-true Dutch door and into the rest of the house.

So as you enter that Dutch door (say it with me again now, DUTCH DOOR!), you’ll come into a room that right now I’m dreaming of being a cross between the dining room (located on the far side of the kitchen) and a mudroom type entrance since it’s a door we might even begin to use more than our front door.

Yeah, let me just pause and say it would be so cool if it was able to be only one of those rooms, but in a relatively smallish one level home with a basement (our main floor includes the kitchen and dining room, living room, three bedrooms and a bathroom and it is about 1500 square feet, not including the basement which of course is a luxury we are thrilled to have) you definitely make compromises.

No complaints from me though, I love the puzzle of making the most of our space.

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}

At the far wall, next to the dream Dutch door, is this wall of cabinets (and the current location of the refrigerator). Great storage and yet, room for improvement! That’s good.

The dream Dutch door will be at the far side of the dream banquette dining table, so I imagine this wall as useful storage space for the kitchen and dining room. We could possibly even just refurbish the cabinetry that is already here and transform this wall into a really charming dining and kitchen storage space, thus the inspiration photos in today’s post.

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}

You can see the hall that is presently through the door to the right of the fridge, above. The current basement stair wall could be opened up to make the hallway feel more spacious, and the existing cabinet could be snazzed up a bit to look more like a butler’s pantry, even though it is located in the hall, because it would be a convenient location for overflow platters and dishes. A little reimagining and it will be a cute cabinet!

If you keep going down that hall, you’ll loop around to the right and end up in the new kitchen so it’s a great circular floor plan.

I hope you enjoy today’s inspiration for charming dining room built-ins and butler pantry style cabinets! It’s fun to share this journey with you all.

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}Millhaven Homes

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}
Jack Bilt Homes

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}Jill Hinson – Forever Cottage

Vision for Dining Room Built-Ins {Connection, Charm & Function}
Eleven Gables


  1. Shae

    Oh my word look at all those great built-in’s in the hallway, dreamy! Also that stove, I know they are not always as romantic as they seem, especially when you actually go to cook with it. I hope it is not on you list to replace? Have fun with all you decisions?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you! Presently only the oven is functioning, not the stove part, so it isn’t as romantic as you might think :).

  2. Wendy

    I’m so excited you are finally starting your side yard and hopefully your remodeling of your kitchen and dining room will begin. I love the Dutch Door idea! I think new cabinets would look great and banquette seating sounds great. Loving all your ideas and can’t wait to see the end results.

  3. Matilda Joyce

    You should look at House Tweaking – they have a combo mud/dining room that is cute & seems functional.
    Can you – or have you and I missed it – post a layout because it’s hard for me to follow the relationship of the rooms.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Oh cool, I’ll look for it, thanks! I have not posted the floor plan yet, I’m sure that would make it much easier to see so I will definitely get that done and posted soon. Thanks for the nudge!

      • Darcy

        I’d love to see any other inspiration you have for your future mud/dining room! I’m trying to create an entry/mudroom area on one side of our dining room because that’s the door we always use to enter and exit our house. It currently gets overtaken by coats, shoes, bags and mail, and we also use it daily to eat. I’m struggling to find a good way to make it work for both purposes.

        • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

          Hi Darcy! I’ll definitely be on the hunt for more inspiration photos, it is a bit difficult to find that combo so I will share more as I find them! :)

  4. sandyc

    When I started scrolling down your post and the first image began to come up, I thought “Wow! Melissa did it!” (knowing, of course, that you hadn’t yet). Somehow that first room seemed so you, though they are all wonderful. I love your willingness to think about with consideration, think outside the box and think about ways to use (not make do with) what you have and your willingness to be patient while your dreams are actualizing, and your sharing the process with all of us. The Inspired Room posts on my email list are right up there with Maria Killam’s blogs for my favorite early morning activity – pour a cup of coffee, sit down in front of the computer and go right into inspiration bliss mode. Who cares about starving cats or my hungry body or waiting med trans dictation work!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks, it is fun for me to have friends out there who enjoy following along with my dreaming, scheming and ideas! I’m so glad you enjoy reading each day! :)

  5. Gina

    Love the Dutch door idea! I would try to have it swing in to the left so it can be flush with the wall-here in Land of 10,000 lakes, Dutch doors are only a dream… mosquitoes :(

  6. Cindy Franck

    All sounds exciting! Will you still have a formal dining room? Where? Will folks likely come in your front door, and what will they see from there after you create a kitchen in your current dining room? Love your creativity. It inspires me to look at my house with fresh eyes and possibly moves rooms around! PS: I own both of your books and live them!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      We would sacrifice the formal dining space to have the more charming and spacious kitchen / dining combo. Guests would still enter through the front door most of the time. I have some inspiration for what they would see as they enter, I’ll share that in another post! :-D Thanks for reading, I’m glad the ideas are helpful. And thanks for the kind words on the books (and on living the books, I’m glad you love them and would enjoy living in them, too! HA!).

  7. Cindy Franck

    That is, I LOVE your books! It would be even better if I would LIVE them, too!

  8. Sallie

    Gothic arches in butler’s pantry!? (Gasping and falling over in dead faint.) Gorgeous! Can you do that in your house? (wink) I love what you say here, “I love the puzzle of making the most of our space.” Amen, sister! It’s the problem-solving and jury-rigging that’s so fun and creative. (Not that full-blown professional remodels are a BAD thing!) Love your blog and your books!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Right? I nearly fainted dead away myself. I would LOVE to copy the arches in my house, that would be amazing! Thanks, Sallie!

  9. Jo Jo

    Melissa, I am loving your vision of these spaces! Very creative and such a good use of what already exists! Can’t wait to see it all playing out! Have fun! It’s going to be beautiful!

  10. Rachel

    The photo from Heidi Piron Design was my favorite! Such lovely inspiration! I can’t wait to see how your house starts to match your dreams!

  11. Renee

    Have you ever visited ?
    It’s a blog about vintage homes. You’re stove is probably a hot item in the mid mod world and is probably worth selling, if you are planning on getting rid of it.

    We turned our garage door, which opens onto the patio, into a Dutch door and we love it. It’s not as charming as yours, we just cut the door in half and changed the hardware, but it’s so convenient.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I have had quite a few inquiries about my stove, so I’m sure it will end up in the perfect home! Thanks for the link to the vintage house site!

  12. Emily @

    What a fun surprise to see my built in hutch in your inspiration photos!! Thank you, Melissa! I can’t wait to see what you do! xox, Emily

  13. Debby

    I LOVE the idea of a butler’s pantry-style built-in at the end of your (now) kitchen space. All of the inspiration photos are beautiful, but my favorite is the Jack Bilt example because it would give you extra counter space–and one can never have too much counter space! It would become a perfect buffet area when you’re entertaining. (And the arches in that photo, while maybe not achievable for most of us, are spectacular.) So keep dreaming and planning and looking for inspiration–I have no doubt that you will end up with a charming, livable, cozy, and friendly space because that’s what you do. I don’t have the “see the possibilities” talent that you do, but thank you for your inspiration to think that way as I ponder solutions for the things I’d like to change in my own home. Wish I could fly you out to Ohio to consult on how to make my kitchen space work better! And I would love to see your floor plan, too! Maybe even before and after floor plans!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you Debby! I will definitely get some floor plans together, I agree that would be so helpful! I love sharing but it especially makes me happy to know you find these ideas helpful as you ponder your own home. :)

  14. liz

    I also like the Jack Bilt picture – since there is water already plumbed there, it would be so nice to have a sink to be able to clean your fresh veggies and flowers form the garden as well as being able to set up a coffee bar.

    Of course, if there is water nearby the back door, you could also set up a potting bench/entertainment area by the door.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      True, that is definitely something to consider, an extra sink could be so helpful right there! Hmmm….so many great ideas to ponder! And we do have water in our new side yard so I’m pretty excited by the possibilities that existing feature offers.

  15. Barbara (WA)

    Dutch door – a fun idea if you don’t have to worry about bugs!! I’m sure you’ve considered that. Love, Debby Downer ?

  16. Maggie

    So happy for you.. Starting the side yard and some really good plans for kitchen re-do.. Enjoy your time spent designing and figuring it all out!! Can’t wait to see it all come together.. Maggie

  17. Christie

    Yes to the built-in cabinet/counter by the dutch door … perfect for indoor/outdoor serving space. I can’t wait to see the new kitchen/dining arrangment.

    I also love that little built-in cabinet near your basement stairs. Looks like a fun space to dress up. May I suggest using some new MCM-inspired hardware if the original isn’t up to par? I think it would be a nice nod to your home’s history, and a little spot of it there would be fun.

  18. Rhonda

    Love your inspiration photos. I am currently doing a butlers pantry in our new house. Love the navy cabinets in the Andrew Howard photo. Definitely a color to think about since I am doing brass fixtures. Good like on your project. It is so hard to think of everything when planning a major change like that.

  19. Sue Davies

    We recently redid our kitchen after 30 years of living with old dark laminate cabinets. We went with a new style Ikea white cabinet that just came out last year in January, We have a rather small galley kitchen so there are not a lot of cabinets. At the end of the kitchen was a blank wall and the door that leads to our bedroom. For several years I used a free standing hutch on that wall. When we redid our kitchen we replaced the hutch with cabinets on the bottom with easy slide out drawers and glass door cabinets on the top. It turned out beautiful! The counter space there is now our beverage station with our coffee maker and toaster, I am so very pleased with the look, the extra storage space and how well it functions.

  20. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Melissa, I am totally smitten with Bunny Williams dining room design. From the white cabinets to the dark wood to the colorful blue chairs and tablecloth… it all makes my heart sing. The table cloth reminds me of that old oriental rug you put in your family room. How would it work (or not) in your seating area?

    I’m noticing that your inspiration images are pretty traditional and your home as it is, is ‘new century.’ Are you finding it challenging to work with that style?

  21. Jenny

    I heart Dutch Doors as we had one in our previous house (that was original to the house) and I desperately miss it!! Can you please do a post dedicated to your Dutch Door purchase? I know you did the inspiration post, but this could be a “part 2” explaining your research with sources & then your decision. just an idea that!! Thanks! :)

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