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How to use your formal dining room as an art center for your kids

Why You Should Make the Dining Room an Art Room

I finally did it – I got rid of the old green couch (which was essentially a glorified dog bed) in our play room and replaced it with the mother of all tables and some clever storage benches.  Thus creating the play/art/entertaining room I’ve been pining for in my head for months, nay YEARS now! I’m pretty darn excited to share it as part of Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life month – can you tell?

Let me tell you, it was no small feat convincing my hubby to let me chuck that couch.  It was the first piece of furniture we bought for our first house (a 900 square foot 1930’s home in Nashville) so it definitely had sentimental value – so much so that we hauled all it the way here to Seattle when we moved four years ago.  Plus neither of us are really the kind of people that can easily get rid of large scale furniture.  I mean it’s a couch! We’re bound to be able to use it somewhere in our next house, right?

Nevertheless, the couch’s time had officially run out.  When I spotted a mammoth modern table (and 6 microfiber chairs which we now use in the kitchen) on Craigslist for only $180, I knew it was my time to strike.  I’m positively ecstatic about the way the room functions now.  Want a tour? I thought you’d never ask…


First up, the pièce de résistance – our new art/entertaining table.  We leave one leaf in all the time and it pretty comfortably seats 8-10 people.  There’s also an extra leaf that stores inside the table, which was more than enough for our group of 10 at Christmas.

Since we have an eat-in kitchen, this table gets to serve as an art space for the kids 90% of the time. Which means a big piece of clear vinyl and several rolls of craft paper permanently reside on it.  I can’t tell you how great it is to have a spot where the kids can stretch out and create, and then leave their masterpieces for completion another time.  I love that our dinner table no longer does double duty as an art table.  This setup has simultaneously increased the little’s creative impulses and decreased my stress level all at the same time.

Plus, after 4 years of living in this house, we finally have somewhere to have people over to eat. (The four person table in our kitchen just wasn’t cutting it!)


Almost as fabulous as the table itself, is the new seating that rests against the wall.  I’ve had my eye on these IKEA STUVA benches for quite a while now (they’re on sale right now for IKEA family members too!).  Not only do they serve as perfect bench-seating, they also provide a ton of storage space.  We have two: one full of dress up clothes and another stacked with puzzles, extra art supplies, and my personal stash of crafty stuff.


On the same wall as the benches, our original creativity center is still there but I’ve extended the idea across the entire space.  The three shelves directly above the benches are filled with the kids’ creations, more art supplies (there’s actually something really inspiring about a blank canvas out on display in an art space), and one of my favorite prints – the spirit of which I think is especially appropriate for this space.


On the adjoining wall rests our red retro play kitchen (one of our best purchases ever, by the way, the kids still play with it daily and the look is so chic I don’t even mind having it in a room where we have guests for dinner).  Our old changing table has been converted into storage for kitchen food and DUPLO blocks down below. On top there are loosely defined “craft kits” and a “clay” bin.

The craft kits include fun art books like Herve Tullet’s Doodle Cook and Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint book as well as some of the Babbaco projects we haven’t gotten around to yet and a few of C’s LEGO kits (we keep them separate from our big box of general LEGO pieces). The clay box has homemade playdough, our big barrel of play dough tools, and a bunch of playfoam.


On the third wall we have more toy storage, including some baskets full of games, balls, and even blankets in the fireplace.  At this particular moment, we also had a little man too active to sit still for the camera and a mangy old dog badly in need of a brushing.

So that’s pretty much it.  Not the most conventional of dining room spaces but such a good fit for where we’re at in life right now.

Tell me, would any of you consider converting your dining room into a hybrid space like this?

This post is part of MPMK’s “Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life”. You can read all about it here, check out all of our projects here, and join thousands of POYEL facebook group members here.



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