Monday, September 6, 2010

Redesign without the Remodel: Breakfast Nook to Office Conversion

Although the bread and butter of our residential work is working with homeowners who are building or remodeling, our design expertise applies just as much to arranging furniture as it does to laying out floor plans.  In September and October, each Monday design.banter will feature "Redesign without the Remodel", with tips on how to "remodel" your home using furniture and items you may already own. Your home can have a brand new feel without ever lifting a hammer (well, except to hang a picture), since the vast majority of us are not currently remodeling our homes or building a new one. It also goes without staying that the greenest design is adapting your current home to your changing needs.  Need some personalized advice? We are always available for consulting on an hourly basis.

Gut check: how often to you really use your formal dining room? Compare this to how much that square footage is costing you each month in your mortgage. And, do you really need two tables and two sets of chairs? Why is it that one of the most beautiful rooms with the nicest furniture is hardly used? We have an open kitchen with a combined living/dining area, and since this is our only dining area, it is on the more formal side. If you have a formal dining area, why not use it everyday? And your breakfast room may already be used as the default office. Below are tips on how to use your formal dining room for everyday meals, and convert your existing breakfast nook to the home office.

Formal Dining Room: Keep it special yet functional (these apply especially with young children)
  • Have 5-7 sets of place mats and switch them out each night when you clear the table. Throw them in the wash each week with the sheets or rags or wash them with the dishes, depending on the type. Having the table always set will keep the table from getting cluttered and will keep the room looking special. 
  • Or, for everyday meals, use a table cloth. 
  • If there's a rug under the table, make sure it's durable and easy to clean. 
  • Always keep a center piece on the table. If you have a garden, keep a vase stocked with fresh cut flowers. If you are like me and don't have a green thumb (or a garden), have a few fake options that you switch out. Or, cluster candles on a formal tray.  
Now that your dining room is ready for everyday meals, it's time to convert the breakfast nook to a more functional space. If you have a breakfast bar built into your counter space, you can use this for meals also. Now is the time to invest in some comfy bar stools. If you don't have a built-in bar, you can buy a free-standing one to replace your kitchen table. 

The Becky Bar table from Dania  or Gordon's Bar from Dania can be used in place of built-in bar area. 

The breakfast nook office is a new take on the traditional hearth room off of the kitchen. After school, the kids can gather to do homework while a parent works in the kitchen. The computer can be easily accessed for recipes or for watching TV or movies while cooking. The kitchen is the heart of most homes, and combined with the adjacent nook-turned-office it becomes the control center. This also keeps a bedroom from having to be used as an office.

Does everyone in the family have a laptop? Create a cozy space by grouping a love seat and some comfy chairs around a storage ottoman that double as a table. The laptops go in the ottoman when they are not in use. 

A storage ottoman provides storage space for laptops while doubling as a coffee table. Coaster storage ottoman on Amazon

Be sure to protect yourself and your family by using a lap desk for your laptop. Creative Essentials LLC lapdesk on Amazon. 
A comfy love seat for the modern hearth room. The Tylosand love seat from Ikea is a great size and style for working and relaxing.
As part of the seating cluster, or as the main soft seating area, place a day bed in front of the window to substitute for a built-in window seat. This can be used while working on a laptop, taking advantage of a nearby book shelf, or for relaxing while chatting with the cook.  Serendipity Day Bed from Dania.

A two-sided desk like the Expedit from Ikea provides multiple homework spaces and storage space.

Chances are your existing breakfast nook doesn't have a closet, but you need an out of sight place to store those binders, software CD's and office supplies. This Pax Wardrobe from Ikea is perfect for keeping the clutter hidden. Hint: you don't have to weighed down by of those manuals. Most manuals are available online. 

Don't want to look at your office all of the time? Keep the desk hidden also. Alve Corner Workstation by Ikea.

By converting your breakfast nook into an office, you are saving valuable square footage by getting rid the the redundant double dining space. Also, a bedroom is often not the ideal place for an office, since often an entire bedroom is not needed, and you want to keep an eye on kids computer use. Since all ages are now spending more time on the computer, why not at least spend that time in the same room, and why shouldn't that room be adjacent to the room where everyone wants to be and always ends up: the kitchen. 


  1. Wow very nice designs for the office furnitures and i like the concept of storage ottoman very much.
    Office desk

  2. Thank you, why can I not find more design ideas on this topic?!?! We have a useless breakfast nook with a table that collects everything... junk mail, kids' art projects, etc & I want to turn it into a bar on one wall, so we can move the coffee pot, cups and wine glasses out of the kitchen, and a computer workdesk on the other wall. Seems possible to me!!!