Our Home - Planning A Dining Area

August 11, 2014

There's no way to describe the main living area of Casa Seventeenth & Irving than awkwardly large. While I rejoice at the amount of square footage we have compared to the typical San Francisco apartment, the living area has been an impossible to solve puzzle since the day we moved in.

I drew up a little floor plan so you can get an idea of what I mean. It's a mind-boggling 20' long by 13'3" wide. But a good 3' of that 20' depth is virtually unusable, since it functions as the main traffic area to our dining room, kitchen, and entry hall that leads to the bedroom, bathroom, and front door.

When we first moved in, I had my desk area in the lower right corner of the living area, facing the wall. I quickly learned that I hated facing a wall while working. About 3 months of that, I turned my desk to face the entry hall, but left it in the same space. I continued working like that for a good 2 years.

One day, in the dead of our San Francisco "summer" which is actually a cold, foggy, miserable few months, I realized that corner of our apartment is not only the coldest it's also the darkest. No wonder I was hitting a slump daily, trying to keep myself awake! We have East facing windows in the living area, so while it's nice first thing in the morning, by midday it gets fairly dark in there. And, if it's foggy, the light is non-existent.

I took on a bigger job around that time, and I asked Mr. S&I if he would mind if I took over the dining area. We moved my desk and immediately, my work productivity increased. I have a giant window behind me (I face those two closets) and a large light fixture overhead providing bright light. I've been happily working in our former dining room ever since.

We pushed our existing dining table and chairs to that sad bottom right corner. It is still so dark, cramped, and awkward feeling that we barely use it. The table and chairs are just too large for the area, and the darkness wasn't working. Result? Binge watching House of Cards while eating at our coffee table far more often than I would like to admit.

The former designer in me couldn't let this go. I want a comfy space to eat and enjoy the meals we love making together. I want a solution to this awkward corner of my home. It is the first wall space you see when you walk into our place, and I want it to make an impact.

I came across the image at the top of this post in my inspiration files and suddenly, I had an idea. Why not build out a cozy dining corner?

I think it's important to begin every project with a plan - if you don't, you'll find yourself buying random things to fill the spot, that you'll never be happy with, and you end up replacing them. "Buy the best, and you'll only cry once" is now my motto (thanks Miles Redd) as even I'm guilty of purchasing filler pieces I end up regretting.

Armed with this plan, I'm determined to get this area built out in time for the holidays. We've put so many things around the house on hold while saving for the wedding, but afterwards, I'm looking forward to making some of these long awaited improvements.

Since that area is so dark, I'm on the lookout for a large fixture that is appropriate for low ceilings while still providing lots of light. Something like this to bring that sparkly brightness. I also want it to be transparent, so that it doesn't cover too much of the large piece of textile art we just purchased. I'm looking forward to having that reflective lucite to bounce light off of, and at 60" x 60" it will help take up a lot of real estate on an awkward wall.

I've been hoarding about 10 yards of charcoal velvet for the last year that I got at a warehouse sale, and I've finally found its perfect use. I plan to work with a local upholsterer to build out a banquette that we can anchor to that corner. I love the leggy look of the inspiration photo, but I want to add some extra storage and plan to panel out the front to match the original doors of our home.

Do you like banquette seating? I think it will feel cozy, and it's a great space saver if you don't have room for a proper dining area. I'm going to push a small round pedestal table up against the banquette, and add these two vintage chairs I just scored to the outside edges. 

One corner down, many more to go. I can't wait to share the finished photos with you.

1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5


  1. I LOVE banquette seating, it's the perfect solution for apartment living. Those chairs you scored are amazing. I can't wait to see your finished space!

    I transitioned from a larger apartment with separate dining room and breakfast area to now just a small eat-in kitchen. Our table (the industrial style jackson table from world market) just fits if you push one end of the table against the wall, and I had originally opted for a bench with chairs in our old dining room, so I pushed the bench under the windows in my new eating area with the chairs on the opposite side so it's sort of a banquette. I just put up a photo on instagram (@ladybuckmaster) this weekend, I want to sit and read there all the time!


Pin It button on image hover