Design · Dining Room · Inspiration · Interiors

Turning a Dining Room Into a Library

I enjoy having a formal dining room in our apartment, but the room goes unused most of the time. The dining room is a hike from our kitchen, so it is an effort to use it for dining, and we end up eating there only on special occasions. The dining room table is a large and well-lit work space, however, so occasionally my husband will use it as a desk when he has lots of papers to spread out, and it’s a good place for me work on those rare occasions when I use the sewing machine. I don’t want to get rid of the dining room, but I would like to find a way to use it more often.

After considering various alternatives, I thought it might be nice to try to use the dining room like a library. The dining room does not have any bookshelves, and there is no space to add them, but the table would be a good surface for displaying and exploring oversized coffee-table books.

Here are some photos that are providing inspiration:

Mark D. Sikes via Veranda
Caroline Sieber’s London home via Vogue
Shaun Smith via Southern Living
Elle Decor
Albert Hadley via House Beautiful
William McLure

Inspired by these photos, I restyled our dining table as a library table. At the ends of the table, I placed oversize world atlases, left open to encourage frequent viewing. Along both sides of the length of the table, I assembled stacks of other large books and added a few magnifying glasses and some decorative pieces.

Here is our dining table restyled as a library table:


IMG_5346 2

IMG_5374 2

This restyling of the dining room is an experiment, and it remains to be seen whether the transformation will get us to use the room more. Right now, I like the change, but it does feel a bit cluttered to me. If the library styling encourages us to frequent the dining room, and if the kids will stop every now and again and look inside the books, then it will be worth it. I will let you know!

10 thoughts on “Turning a Dining Room Into a Library

  1. Looks fabulous. It’s nice to be able to easily look at big books. I had the same thought process several years ago. We added on to our kitchen to put a big table in there and never ate in the dining room anymore. So I added bookshelves on one wall to try the dining room/library combo. We still never ate in the dining room but we loved having most of the books in one place but we took them out of the dr/library to sit in comfy chairs to read. So I took the dining table out, added more bookcases to put all books in one place and added comfy chairs. I love the comfy chairs but I love the look of the big center table a lot and at least you can still eat at your table if need be so I like that about your solution. It looks fresh and inviting!


  2. The new arrangement looks wonderful, Elizabeth! I love a book-cluttered table more than a bare one but I know it is a personal preference. Either way, your dining room is beautiful! xo, Eva

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a small area off the living room that was the original dining room. We’ve converted it into something like shown in your 5th picture. We have an octagon dining table with a table skirt topped with books and various trinkets from our travels.

    Liked by 1 person

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