Room of the Day: Dining Area Doubles as an Office

By Mary Jo Bowling

Truth: This room is about real life for real people. The owners of this space (located in a San Gabriel, California, ranch house) are one of those families for whom entertaining happens more often on the patio by the grill than around a linen-covered table. Their dining room wasn't that kind of space anyway; located just off the kitchen, it was and is used for daily family meals. The dilemma was that the work-at-home mom in the clan needed an office. Their interior designer, Amy Peltier of A. Peltier Interiors, saw one option: make the dining room work harder.

The designer decided to outfit the dining room as an office as well as an eating area. "The biggest challenge was making everything fit in a small room," she says.

To improve flow, Peltier revived a round table and chairs. The legs and apron of the table, which was being used under a covered patio, were refinished with black paint. The top was coated with chalkboard paint - a kid-pleasing option. Vintage chairs were jazzed up with a white seat and back plus black legs.

Key to making the room work was the chandelier - because the table was shifted to one side of the room to make way for a desk, the chandelier was moved over as well. "Of course, moving the light fixture added to the budget," says Peltier. "But it was absolutely essential to having the room look right."

Most offices require storage. For this one, rows of tidy shelves (some of them equipped with wicker bins to hide smaller items) do the trick.

The other side of the room is home to the desk. "She is a graphic designer, and she needs to have a lot of things right at hand," says Peltier. "We installed a horizontal row of wall-mounted file folders. She can easily reach everything, and it keeps the narrow desktop clean." An acrylic office chair all but disappears.

Having many stylish file folders helps give some artistry to the workhorse feature. "I searched everywhere for folders with great patterns," says Peltier. "I found these at Target."

Surrounding the rows of files with more decorative items - an art ledge, a chevron-patterned lamp and a fabric-covered corkboard - also dressed down the office aspect of the space.

"Whenever you purchase something utilitarian, you can also make a style choice," says Peltier. "There's no reason why something that works well shouldn't also be great-looking."
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