Dining Room To Home Office Makeover

how to use formal dinning room as home office

If you're looking for ways to create a home office, consider converting your formal dining room. Dining rooms are often one of the most under-utilised spaces in a home, and with so many people working from home now, a home office is a much better use of that wasted square footage.

A comfortable, dedicated workspace can improve your productivity, and a dining room can be converted into an office with a quick weekend project that is as simple as changing the furniture.

Characteristics Values
Lighting Task lights are important to avoid eye strain
Storage Use sideboards, shelves, and drawers to store work gear
Space Dining rooms are often under-utilized spaces
Equipment Plan ahead for the equipment you'll need and consider cable management
Style Choose a style that fits your personal taste and the purpose of the space
Privacy Install doors to boost privacy
Acoustics Use upholstered furniture, rugs, and acoustic panels to reduce noise


Lighting and storage

Lighting is a key component when designing a home office. It is important to have good lighting to avoid eye strain, headaches, and feeling drained and unproductive. If your dining room has ample natural light, you should still add one or two task lights. An adjustable desk lamp provides concentrated but movable lighting that is useful for focusing on work. A small, stylish desk lamp can ensure proper lighting, and a cordless lamp will avoid adding to cord clutter.

If you are looking for something more decorative, a sputnik chandelier or a sculptural ceiling light can be a statement piece that doubles as art. A three-arm ceiling light fixture adds an interesting sculptural element and disperses light in multiple directions. A semi-flush mount light fixture is a popular choice for an office as it is inexpensive, comes in a variety of styles, and is more decorative than a regular flush mount.

For a touch of industrial style, mount a metal sconce on the wall above the desk. If you have built-in bookshelves, elevate them with lights on the bottom of the shelves. To avoid expensive electrical wiring, opt for battery-operated puck lights that are self-adhesive, dimmable, and typically come with a remote for easy operation.

For storage, put sideboards to use. Interior designer Tiffany Skilling dedicated two shelves of her china cabinet to store her work supplies. A storage banquette is another convenient place to stow work gear and can be placed near wall outlets to power devices without creating a tripping hazard.

If you have a dining table with drawers, you can use them to store office supplies. Alternatively, you can relocate items such as place mats and cloth napkins and use the drawers for work supplies.

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Design and decor

When it comes to converting a formal dining room into a home office, there are several design and decor considerations to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help you create a stylish and functional workspace:

  • Lighting: Even if your dining room has ample natural light, it's important to add task lighting to avoid eye strain. A small, stylish desk lamp can provide the necessary illumination for your workspace.
  • Storage: Utilise existing dining room storage units such as buffets, sideboards, or china cabinets to stow away your work gear. This helps keep your space organised and clutter-free.
  • Functionality: Consider the functionality of your new home office. If you require a large desk for multiple monitors or need space for blueprints or other materials, ensure your dining room table can accommodate these needs or invest in a new table that suits your requirements.
  • Privacy: If your dining room is adjacent to a kitchen or living area, address acoustic and privacy challenges. Install French doors, pocket doors, or sliding doors to enhance privacy. Additionally, add upholstered furniture, rugs, and acoustic panels to reduce exterior noise.
  • Organisation: Create a plan to organise your home office efficiently. Utilise bookcases or shelves to store books, papers, and even printers. Custom storage solutions may be necessary to fit the unique dimensions of your dining room.
  • Space: Ensure your home office provides ample space for movement. Allow for clear walkways and enough room to move around your desk and furniture comfortably.
  • Personal Style: Choose a style that aligns with your personal tastes and the intended use of the space. If you plan to meet with clients, consider a more formal and traditional design. If the space is purely for personal use, you may prefer a more comfortable and eclectic style.
  • Colour: Consider adding a bold hue with a high-gloss sheen to your walls or bookshelves for a sumptuous look.
  • Finishing Touches: Pay attention to the finishing touches, such as comfortable seating, lighting, and accessories. Let your personality shine through in your decor choices, and don't be afraid to add a touch of colour or pattern to create a space that reflects your unique style.


Equipment and furniture

When converting a formal dining room into a home office, it's important to consider the equipment and furniture you'll need to create a functional and comfortable workspace. Here are some ideas and suggestions to help you get started:

  • Assess your needs: Determine the type of work you'll be doing in your home office. For example, if you're an architect, you may need a large desk for blueprints and a powerful computer. If you're a lawyer, you might require a more formal desk setup with a laptop and printer.
  • Start with the essentials: Begin with the minimum equipment necessary, such as a desktop computer and printer. You can always add more equipment later as your needs evolve.
  • Manage your cables: Keep your workspace tidy and cables out of sight by drilling holes in your furniture or opting for custom furniture with built-in cable management solutions, such as grommets.
  • Plan for upgrades: Consider future equipment upgrades and create a layout that can accommodate them seamlessly. This will ensure your space remains functional and up-to-date.
  • Utilize storage: Invest in bookcases or shelves to store reference books, notepads, and other supplies. Custom storage solutions may work best in long and narrow dining rooms.
  • Add a sideboard: A sideboard can provide additional storage for bulkier items or items you want to keep out of sight, such as craft supplies or children's colouring books and crayons.
  • Create a comfortable setup: Ensure your workspace is spacious and allows for easy movement. Consider the placement of your furniture to provide ample room for working and relaxing.
  • Reflect your personal style: Choose furniture that aligns with your personal taste and the intended use of the space. If you plan to meet with clients, consider a more formal and professional style. If it's for personal use, you may prefer a more comfortable and relaxed setting.
  • Opt for customisation: Custom furniture can be tailored to the dimensions of your dining room, maximising space and functionality. You can adjust the width, height, and depth of pieces like desks, bookcases, and sideboards.
  • Choose quality: Invest in well-made, high-quality furniture that will endure daily use and make a good impression on clients or guests.


Privacy and acoustics


  • Understand your privacy rights as a remote worker: It's important to be aware that employers have broad rights to monitor their employees' activities when using company-provided equipment, networks, and software. This includes monitoring your use of employer-provided devices, your files, web pages you visit, and work emails. Even if you are working from home, your electronic privacy rights as an employee are limited.
  • Use personal equipment for personal tasks: It is recommended to use your personal devices and networks for conducting personal or sensitive tasks. By doing so, you can maintain a level of privacy as your employer won't have access to or be able to monitor your activities on your personal equipment.
  • Be mindful of your consent: While employers may not always be obligated to answer truthfully, it is important to ask your employer about their monitoring practices and policies. Withholding your consent to their monitoring practices could potentially lead to negative consequences, including termination of employment.


  • Choose the right location: If possible, set up your home office in a room that doesn't share walls with noisy areas of the house, such as the kitchen or playroom. Position your desk away from thin or shared walls, preferably in the middle of the room or against the thickest wall.
  • Soundproof your space: Use soundproofing materials such as mass-loaded vinyl (MLV), acoustic foam panels, door sweeps, and door seals to reduce noise transmission into and out of your home office. These materials can be applied to walls, doors, and floors to create a quieter workspace.
  • Add acoustic partitions or curtains: If you share your home office with someone else, consider using acoustic partitions or soundproof curtains to create a visual and acoustic divide. This will help enclose your space, providing more privacy and reducing unwanted noise from your office partner.
  • Minimize distractions: Identify and address any potential sources of noise or distraction within your home office. This could include ticking clocks, noisy appliances, or conversations from other rooms. You can also ask your family members or roommates to respect your work hours and maintain a quieter environment during that time.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones: If you work in a space that cannot be soundproofed, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones. They can help block out background noises and improve your focus, especially during video conferences or phone calls.

By implementing these privacy and acoustics strategies, you can create a more productive and focused work environment in your new home office.


Multi-purpose functionality

The "New" Dining Room

Abbey Stark, an Interior Design Leader at IKEA, has observed how people "have had to carve out space in their homes for homeschooling, working from home, hobbies, and more meals cooked at home". She has since deemed this kind of space "the 'new' dining room".

Design Tips

If you're looking to make a pragmatic design choice, use your dining space to carve out a work nook. To mitigate acoustic and privacy challenges, install French doors, pocket doors, or sliding doors. Add upholstered furniture, rugs, and acoustic panels to cut exterior noises.

If your converted dining room office needs to double as a dining room, choose a table style that doesn't look too office-like. Alternatively, squeeze in a foldable desk, like a secretary desk, which is a cross between a tall cabinet and a fold-down desktop.

Storage Solutions

When turning your formal dining room into an office, finding a set of shelves that fit perfectly into the existing space can be challenging. 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.

You can also use sideboards for additional office storage. Many include shelves that can hold books and printers, and drawers that can conceal items like crayons and colouring books.

If you're looking to pack more function into your space, you can maximise storage and accommodate play space for kids. Use storage pieces to designate different areas, and make it clear how each area is to be used. Each area should have its own function, and toys and personal belongings should have their own place.

Frequently asked questions

If you plan to meet with clients in your new home 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 dark wood desk with a front modesty panel, for example, creates a formal impression.

If you're looking to make a pragmatic design choice, use your dining space to carve out a work nook. To mitigate acoustic and privacy challenges, install French doors, pocket doors, or sliding doors. Add upholstered furniture, rugs, and acoustic panels to cut exterior noises. For extra storage, invest in floor-to-ceiling custom built-ins or mount shelving on any open walls.

If you're tired of your formal dining room eating away at your square footage, consider converting it into a relaxation room. You can swap a dining table for a round coffee table and lounge seating to create an inviting environment where your family and friends can chill, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy a conversation.

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