This week, in the Organize Dining Room Challenge, we will tackle the organization of this formal room, and in addition, also deal with the kitchen eating area.
If you've got a room devoted to the activity of eating with family and friends, ask yourself, when is the last time I actually used it for this purpose, and could I use it again today if I needed or wanted to?
If you find you can't use this space for what its meant to do, because of clutter build up, then you're not alone. However, it doesn't have to be this way! We'll organize this area this week so you can again use and enjoy the space.
Are you new here? The Organize Dining Room Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
But, what if you don't have a formal dining room? You may think you're off the hook for this week, but think again! Even if you don't have a dining room, this week's challenge can help you get on track (or stay that way) for using your kitchen table for what it's supposed to be used for -- eating with your family, so jump on in to this challenge!
Whether you've got a formal dining room, or not, there is somewhere in your house that is designated as the area where you and your family will sit down, together, and eat and socialize with one another. That is the primary function of the area.
I cannot emphasize enough how important this area of your home is, as a hub of family life.
This week we'll begin treating it with the respect it deserves, to make sure it is ready to serve that purpose whenever we want it to.
If you do have a formal dining room, along with a kitchen eating area or breakfast nook, make sure you work on and organize each space this week. In addition, I encourage you to use your dining room more frequently in the future, if you don't already, since I hate it when space in our homes is not used, and enjoyed, on a regular basis.
Along with this prime function for this space, eating together, often there are secondary functions for the space since it contains a large flat surface -- a table -- that can be used for lots of other activities.
There is nothing wrong with using the space for these additional functions as long as they don't interfere with the room's primary function, for eating.
However, remember that if you want to do these additional activities in your dining room you'll have to be extra creative in your use of storage solutions and organizing principles to make sure it will all work for you, including having space to hold the supplies in activities when not in use, so the table remains clear most of the time.
Once you've decided what function or functions your dining room will serve the next step in the Organize Dining Room Challenge is to declutter the room.
Your goal is to keep your dining room table clear most of the time, except maybe a centerpiece in the middle of the table.
If your dining room table is covered with mountains of paper now is the time to tackle those mounds, and after throwing away (or shredding) the junk, put the rest into the home filing system you created in Week #13 of the Challenge.
Further, if your table is a dumping ground for lots of stuff that don't serve the functions of the room go through everything and place it in the correct spot in your home. You may realize that there is really no "home" for some of these items, which is why they got dumped in the dining room in the first place. Go ahead and try to make homes for the main categories of items you find, so that things don't begin to pile back up in the dining room in the future.
The other things you're likely to have in your dining room (and that at least some of which will stay there) include:
In regard to these common items, get rid of anything broken or stained, and pieces from sets you no longer own (unless you absolutely love them).
In addition, go ahead and get rid of any very nice and expensive items that you actually detest. You know, the one you got as a wedding present years ago but think is hideous and wouldn't be caught dead actually using.
Once you've whittled down the possessions in this room into the real keepers take a look at what you've got left, and consider how you'll store everything.
Typically, the items you'll store in this room and need to organize include those associated with eating meals and serving your guests and family. This can include china, glassware, linens, and other items used in your dinner service.
If, however, you also want to use the room for other functions, as you decided in Step 1, consider where you'll store these things too. Make sure you've got space available to store these items when they are not in use so the dining room table can stay clear most of the time, ready for eating on when needed.
Buffets are a good way to hold dishes for use
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Typically, dining rooms don't come with a lot of built in storage, such as a closet. Instead, you will often use pieces of furniture such as dining room sideboards and buffets which can often be both beautiful and functional at the same time.
Ideally, when choosing such furniture it is nice to choose something that has both shelves and drawers, so you can display certain items while also just storing others that you don't necessarily want to see out.
Also, consider whether you like to serve through a buffet line, in which case the flat surface of a buffet sideboard can give you a good flat surface to serve on when needed, as well as a place to display items the rest of the time.
If you don't like, or can't afford to purchase one of these pieces of furniture though, don't despair. Another wonderful idea is to use a bedroom dresser to hold many of these items. These dressers are nice since they often have deep drawers which give lots of storage, and can still look quite beautiful in your dining room.
Another beautiful and functional type of furniture you can use for both storage and display are china cabinets and corner cabinets, along with hutches. What distinguishes these items from sideboards and buffets is the fact that they're taller, and have more display areas, typically.
Even if you don't have a lot of space for furniture an additional way to display certain items, especially plates, is on the wall.
However, I'm not a huge fan of storing plates on the wall which you actually plan to use for serving guests since then, when you're actually entertaining, the walls are bare (except the empty plate racks), since you've taken down the plates for use.
Blanket and tablecloth hanger
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Most people have some nice linens that they use for entertaining, holidays, and other special occasions. I suggest that you have a couple of tablecloths, a table pad, a set of placemats, and a set of napkins.
You can store these items in a drawer in your sideboard, buffet or china cabinet, if there is room.
However, if you run out of room or hate the idea of having to re-iron your linens before use I suggest using a heavy duty hanger designed to hold tablecloths, quilts or comforters, such as the one shown on the left.
These hangers keep the item from slipping and sliding off, can take the weight of these heavy items, and keep it from getting as wrinkled at the crease.
Obviously, most dining rooms don't have closets so if you use this linen storage method just choose the closet closest to the dining room to store these items in.
In addition, I discuss how to organize a linen closet in more detail in Week #37 of the Challenge.
On a daily basis your kitchen table may be used for many of the same functions that I've discussed your dining room table is used for.
Obviously you eat at it, but it also tends to be where we do paperwork, the kids do homework, and more.
That's part of life, and isn't something to be discouraged. But it is a pain when the table is full of clutter and stuff that doesn't belong there when you want to do another activity.
The solution: daily take a few minutes and clear your kitchen table of previous activities so it is ready for the next meal, the next family board game night, to tackle the math homework, or whatever else.
Here's a short article on this daily habit, which also includes several pictures of readers cleared kitchen tables as inspiration.
I would love to know how this week's Organize Dining Room Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this room of your home in the comments below.
I also love before and after pictures of your dining room or other eating areas, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Organize Dining Room Challenge this week.
However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you. Next week we'll start a two-step process to organize our laundry, starting with laundry room organization.
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I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!