Families have turned their formal dining rooms into home offices, libraries, guest rooms and dens. It seems the idea of a sit-down dinner in its own special room isn't quite as popular as it once may have been. If you entertain often, a lounge or club decorating scheme may be a better fit for your lifestyle than a dining room. With some paint, fabric and ambient lighting you'll soon have a comfortable lounge.
Remove the old dining room furniture from the room. Relocate it in the kitchen, sell it or give it away. You could also store it if you think you might want to return the room to a traditional dining room in the future.
Paint the walls a dark rich gem colour such as ruby red, emerald green or sapphire blue. Black is another alternative, but it has a tendency to look Gothic rather than loungelike.
Install track lighting on the ceiling, including a dimmer at the light switch. Focus the lights on three or four areas of the room, depending on how big it is. These areas will be your seating areas.
Place a wet bar at one end of the room. If the budget doesn't allow for plumbing for a sink, use a kitchen cabinet with a marble top. Add a refrigerator in one of the cabinets. Use the other cabinet to store liquors and drink accessories and utensils.
Add glass shelves above the wet bar or marble-topped counter. Place wine glasses and assorted highball glasses and beer mugs on the shelves. Put a silver or other metallic tray on top of the counter. Add other silver accessories.
Place three low round tables in the room. The tables should have clean lines with a sophisticated flair. Glass tops or mirrored tops fit with the lounge theme. Put two or three upholstered club chairs around each table. The fabric for the upholstery should pick up the rich colour you've used for the wall but include several other complementary colours as well; all-red chairs in a room with red walls is too much.
Put candles in glass candle holders on the tables. For special occasions and parties, place a sophisticated flower arrangement on the wet bar and smaller arrangements on each table. A bouquet of orchids would work well with an orchid plant on each table. Another alternative would be calla lilies or a bouquet of roses and roses floating in glass bowls on the table.
Round tables fit more people than square ones. Drape fabric on the walls if you don't want to paint them.