5 Designer Tips to Turn Your Formal Dining Room into a Custom Home Office
For many Texas families, the formal dining room serves as a convenient gathering place for Sunday night dinner, while in other homes around the state, it’s more common for busy families to eat at a farmhouse table or a round table in the kitchen dining nook. If your family prefers casual gatherings for meals, your formal dining room probably isn’t seeing much use. At the same time, you may be getting tired of working at improvised workspaces in your living room, kitchen, or bedroom.
Instead of letting that extra space go to waste, consider converting your formal dining room into an office. This is a quick weekend project that can be done by simply changing the furniture.
A comfortable, dedicated workspace can improve your productivity, whether you’re using it for furthering your professional career, pursuing personal interests, or helping your kids with their school projects. After all, your work will go faster if you don’t have to constantly stop what you’re doing to dig printer toner or glue out of the hall closet.
The following five tips will help your dining room-into-office conversion run smoothly:
5. Think About the Office Equipment You’ll Need
The tasks you plan to do in your new home office will dictate the equipment you need, which will affect the size and type of furniture you should acquire.
If you’re an architect who works out of your home, you may need a large desk to accommodate a monitor or two and a desktop computer powerful enough to run CAD programs; maybe you’ll even need a second large table for laying out your blueprints. If you’re a lawyer, on the other hand, you’ll probably need a formal desk with enough room for a laptop and a printer.
When planning the equipment you’ll need in your new home office, consider these three rules of thumb:
Start with the minimum equipment necessary to do your tasks. If you only need a desktop and printer, design a comfortable office layout around those items.
Think about ways to hide your connections. Nobody likes staring at a messy tangle, so keep all cables and cords as unobtrusive as possible. This will help your office stay neat, which will help you stay productive. You can drill your own holes in off-the-shelf furniture to hide your cords and cables, or you can choose custom furniture, which will feature professionally-finished cable management methods, such as built-in grommets that may be placed wherever you want them.
Plan ahead for upgrades. If additional equipment that you don’t yet own would make your work easier, create a plan that allows for it to be smoothly integrated into your workspace at some point in the future.
Furniture that comfortably holds your equipment and keeps your connections out of sight makes it easier to do your work, while furniture that’s large enough to accommodate planned upgrades will help future-proof your home office.
4. Make a Plan to Organize Your Home Office
Digital technology is marvelous, but it hasn’t yet fulfilled the promise of a paperless office. If you’re like most people, your home office will likely contain at least a few reference books, notepads, and papers. Your home office may also do double duty as a place to pursue hobbies and help your kids with their homework. Keeping project materials close at hand, whether they’re for work, school, or crafts, is a must.
Working in your home office is easier if everything has a proper place. Books, papers, and even printers can be stored on bookcases, where they’ll be out of the way yet always within reach. When you’re turning your formal dining room into an office, finding a set of shelves that fit perfectly into the existing space can be a challenge if you’re limited to the selection available at the big box stores. Formal dining rooms tend to be long and narrow, so you’ll need a bookcase with less depth and more width than many standard models offer. For dining room-to-office conversions, custom storage solutions are often the best fit—literally and figuratively.
Bulky or oddly-shaped office equipment, like hole punchers or paper cutters, and craft materials like construction paper, yarn, and model glue may have a difficult time blending in with their surroundings when they aren’t in use. If you have items that you don’t want to keep on permanent display, you may want to add a sideboard for additional office storage. Many sideboards include shelves that can hold books and printers and drawers that can keep crayons and coloring books for kids—or adults—concealed from view.
3. Give Yourself Room to Breathe in Your Home Office
When designing your home office, make sure you provide ample space for movement. Cramped quarters aren’t conducive to productivity; after all, when you’re working on an important project, you may want to push away from your desk, lean back in your chair, and mull over your next steps. Clear thruways are a must for busy families—at any moment, a rambunctious child might tear into your office, eager to show you their latest discovery.
It can be a challenge to find off-the-shelf furniture sized to meet all your needs while still leaving you with enough space for free movement. If you go the custom route, however, you’ll end up with perfectly-sized furniture that accommodates all your equipment and needs while giving you room to breathe, which will make it easier to get the most use out of your office.
2. Consider Your Personal Style
The style you choose for your home office should fit with your personal tastes, though it should also be informed by how you plan to use the office. If you’re a lawyer or an architect, you’ll most likely need to meet with clients. If that’s the case, a formal dining room is perfect for converting into a home office. Dining rooms are usually located near the front of the home, which means you won’t have to escort your clients through other rooms to reach your office. If you plan to receive clients in your office, consider the impression your furniture will make. For a professional impression, turn to high-end furniture.
If you work in a field that skews conservative, you may want the decor to lean more toward the traditional. A lawyer, for instance, may want a desk in a dark wood like walnut with a front modesty panel that hides the legs; this creates a formal impression that can be enhanced with matching bookcases filled with leatherbound volumes. Architects may prefer something warmer and more artisanal, such as a table in a natural wood tone, or even furniture with two-tone finishing.
People whose offices are purely for personal use may wish to buck traditions and expectations in favor of comfort and personal taste. Transitional furniture—a style that mixes elements of contemporary and traditional furnishings—blends many of the best qualities of modern rustic and farmhouse styles and works well with pieces from either. The clean lines of mid-century modern furniture have helped this style retain its widespread appeal more than a century after its debut.
If the furnishings you choose for your home office are well-made and built to endure, they’ll make a good impression on visitors regardless of the style you choose.
1. For the Most Successful Dining Room-Into-Office Conversion, Choose Custom Furniture
Finding office furniture that meets all of your needs in terms of equipment, organization, and space is one challenge; finding office furniture that fits the unconventional shape of many formal dining rooms is another. One clear solution meets all these practical needs without compromising appearance, quality, or function: To convert your formal dining room into an office, choose custom furniture.
With custom furniture, the width, height, and depth of desks, bookcases, and sideboards can be adjusted to fit the room’s dimensions. The depth of a bookcase, for instance, can be narrowed to leave a wider walkway, while the width of a desk can be expanded to accommodate multiple monitors. Grommets to make cable management a breeze can be added wherever you think they’re necessary. Your furniture can be built from whatever wood you prefer and given the finish that best suits your style. High-quality custom furniture helps you get the most from your new home office in both ease of use and the impression it makes.
Homeowners in Dallas looking to turn their formal dining room into an office are in luck: The craftspeople at Unruh Furniture specialize in creating high-quality solid wood furniture that fits the dimensions specified by their customers. For well-made and great-looking desks to support your work setup and sideboards and bookcases to hold everything you need for a clutter-free home office, turn to Unruh Furniture.
Unruh Furniture is dedicated to crafting the best high-end office furniture in Dallas. Our desks, sideboards, and bookcases are built to your specifications and are available in six hardwoods and twelve finishes. Schedule a visit to our Dallas showroom in the heart of Deep Ellum to start planning your formal dining room-into-office conversion.
Featured Image: Slim and stylish, Unruh Furniture's Newport Desk would fit into a dining room converted into a home office.
Image #1: Unruh Furniture's sturdy Dunmire Desk strikes the perfect balance between function and appearance.
Image #2: Visit the Unruh Furniture showroom in Deep Ellum to view the results of our top-quality craftsmanship.