Using Your Dining Room Correctly

The biggest issue with Dining Rooms today is that they are improperly used. All too often the dining room table becomes a temporary storage counter for homework, Amazon boxes and things that haven't made it upstairs to where they belong.  

Why is the dining room a catch all for everyone's clutter?

Two reasons: The first is that the dining room is typically conveniently located near the entrance and has very little daily use other than dinner time. The second reason is that each member of the family has an unwritten rule about what is appropriate to leave there until they are ready to put it away for good.

For kids, they may throw their bookbag in the dining room because that's where they start homework after their after school snack. For dad, maybe it's where magazines and junk mail goes until it's sifted through and ready to be thrown away. For mom, a chair is a good place to put her purse down for now and rest her sweater. 

The problem with these unwritten rules is that they clutter the dining room until it's time for dinner. Then you have a stressful last minute ditch effort to clean up the table and get ready to eat; or you give up on the space and eat dinner in front of the tv. That can really put a damper on the routine of family dinner together.  

The solution has to come from identifying your family's unwritten rules about the space and then figuring out appropriate places for each of the items to be taken and stored.  

For coats and shoes, directing your family and coaching them to use a mud room would help and for mail putting an inbox near the entrance.  

Some homes duplicate the function of a dining area by having a formal dining room near the entrance and a dinette off the kitchen. In this case, often one is used for food and the other (the formal dining) is more of a magazine show room. It might be a good idea to think about converting the formal dining room into a family homework and office space.  

In general, it is my philosophy to only give rooms a single use whenever possible. This prevents you from over cluttering spaces with multi-functionality and creates habits for each space. When it's dinner time you know it will happen in the dining room where you shut off work, forget about school and enjoy each other's company and remember what family is all about.  

How does your family do dinner time? 

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