Double-Duty Dining Room: Decorating in Stages

A three-step makeover helps this dining room work harder than ever without compromising beauty.

A formal dining room might be a thing of decorating past, but that doesn't mean you have to compromise your own style at milk time. I'm Lacy Howard, editor of Decorating Magazine, and today I'm going to show you how we created a dining room fit for informal family time and dressy dinner parties without a trace of stuffiness. In stage 1, this dining space suffered from a bland color palette of beige, off white, and brown. But it has several things that give it the potential to be fabulous. A large bay window seat creates a perfect banquet. The furnishings are traditional pieces with classic style that will hold up as trends come and go, and built-in bookcases offer floor to ceiling display space for a gorgeous collection of China. This family dining room has a 2nd job as a home office and homework cub. Books, magazines, a computer, and other high tech clutter are crowding this room's style potential. Now, a purple scallop trim dresses up the window's Roman shades. Pillows add color and comfort to the windows seat. A lush rug anchors the dining area in the new scheme and a chic chandelier gives off an inviting glow. Above this sideboard, large-scale artwork echoes the room palate. A green leather settee makes a bold style statement opposite the artwork, while upholstered host chairs move table side to offer a better scale and more sophistication. In stage 2, home office clutter is easier on the eyes when it's -- China collections visually pop off the shelves, and fabulous fabrics make an appearance as drapery panels, dining chair slip covers, and a bevy of coordinated pillows on the banquet. Now kid's homework, dad's grocery list, and mom's paperwork hide behind closed doors. I love this pull out desk and office style storage tucked into 1 side of the built in. This newfound space keeps everyone more organized and the dining space looking lovely all day long. Remember where we started? A bland color scheme and lack of finishing details obscured this room's true potential. In order to serve dual purpose as a family gathering space and a stylish place to welcome guest, this dining room required a style boost. A color palette drawn from an on-hand collection of dishes inspired us to create a safe comfortable enough for every day, but beautiful enough for formal events. The best part? Here in the final stage, the classic furnishings from stage 1 remain; their timeless beauty easily updated with decorator details. Let your dining room host family and friends. Pick a pretty palette, choose classy furnishings, and steal some of our savvy storage ideas, and you'll have a multipurpose dining room in no time. For Decorating Magazine, I'm Lacey Howard.