Decorating Dilemmas: Jayne’s Repurposed Living & Dining Rooms

Decorating a living and dining room to function as an office and exercise room

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

These two rooms were originally the living room and dining room. I am using the dining room as a home office and the former living room as an exercise room. I think the spindles dividing the room makes it look dated. These rooms are directly off the main entry so the first rooms you see when entering the house. Therefore, I am looking to combine function with decor!

I would like to put 2 chairs against the blue wall (maybe wing chairs or club chairs) but where do I put a desk? I have a wall mounted desk but also need a sitting desk because I alternate sitting and standing. I could use a round table as the desk if needed and that would also work as a game table. I had a small dining table that I used as a desk but moved it to a dining nook – my main concern was seeing the desk blotter and desk accessories from the front door.

The orange chair is a patio chair that I bought used so I didn’t get to pick the fabric. I would like to recover it with slip covers.

I have an accent wall in the main family room (not pictured here) that is SW Soulmate so I was trying to bring some purple into these rooms as well. The accent wall in the former dining room is SW Storm Cloud and the rest of the living areas is SW Nebulous White.

Open to any and all ideas!!





Dear Jayne,

Many people like you are repurposing their living rooms and dining rooms to be more useful for how we live today. Your gray floors are gorgeous and a great starting point! With the floors as a base, we think you could create two beautiful and functional rooms in tones of gray, cream and purple. Instead of your original way of thinking with the living room repurposed as an exercise space and your dining your office, we highly recommend you reverse it. Since the living room is more centrally located in the house it makes the most sense to have it be a living space that also has a desk and then you can tuck the exercise equipment in the dining area behind the columns.

For your living room, we recommend our Durham Desk in front of the window with the Pearson Desk Chair facing outside. Behind the desk and parallel to the long wall, we think our Graham Loveseat, in the Trilby Basketweave Natural, will give you more seating and open up the space. You can place the Bornova Side Table in gray on one side and a Durham Rectangle End Table on the other to tie in nicely with the desk. Add the purple to the mix with two accent pillows. To complete the look, we recommend a pair of Suzanne Kasler Gourd Lamps in cream Рalong with Suzanne’s Color Wash Art in blush and fog.

For a lovely foundation to the room, we love our new Cable Knit Indoor/Outdoor rug in Gray for an area rug in front of the Graham Loveseat.

Your orange chair and ottoman is better suited angled in the far right corner of the dining room/exercise area. You can either cover it in a slipcover or we think our Toulon Chair and Ottoman in our white with Calisto Gray Stripe for the perfect alternative. In between your wall sconces, you can position our Lancaster Mirror – as a set of four – to reflect into the living room and open up the space. Your purple rug is a nice accent and can be used for floor exercises.

We agree that the turned post give a dated look. We think mounting pierced metal or a transparent, man-made acrylic panels would definitely give you a new look! There are plenty of options available for either product!

We hope you like our suggestions and look forward to seeing the results.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team

Decorating a living and dining room to function as an office and exercise room

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


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    October 5, 2016

    Can you tell me what the large painting in the picture is? Thanks