dining room built-in’s

designing dining room console cabinets

custom built formal dining room cabinets

My husband and I have lived in two homes since marrying. Both have one thing in common – we didn’t decorate large parts of the house for years. Yes, budget was a main reason for this. I am very consistent in my style and what I want, so I chose to wait to save money for what I wanted, knowing it was an investment into things I’d keep for years. The other reason is because I just don’t think you know how you’re going to live in a house for a long time. But if you’re on the hunt for formal dining room ideas, dining room storage, dining room cabinets and dining room console cabinets, welcome to my home. Let’s dig in, starting with the before.

the before

how to design a formal dining room

 how do you entertain?

A few years ago it felt time to make our dining room the space it deserved. We had the budget, I had a vision and my interior designer (another longtime friend, it’s important to hire someone you trust who gets your taste) helped me pull together my dream cabinets. and after pouring over formal dining room ideas from magazines, I went to work creating it.

My thought process had always been: how will I entertain? Am I a formal hostess? Do I prefer buffet style entertaining? What would Thanksgiving look like? Or what kind of dinner parties would I be hosting? I other words, what was my style which would dictate the kind of dining room wall storage I would need?

The answer was always formal casual but a heavy nod to elegance. Along with clothes, raising my children, marriage approach and home thoughts it’s always this idea of perfectly imperfect. I wanted an elegance and formality, with a kick your feet up and feel relaxed atmosphere. I have never wanted a show home style house where you walk in and felt nervous. At first some people do just because my home is more pulled together than most, but then they see me with no shoes on, no make-up and picking up the milk I spilled on the floor (not my kids – I’m the messy klutz in the family) and my friends kick their shoes off and put their feet on the sofa and we chill. I have no tolerance for anything else – me casa es su casa!

My idea of a dinner in our dining room isn’t a sit, pass and serve type of dinner. My in-laws do that and I love it. But for me, a buffet of get up and grab adds that informality I love.

I also love having stations – food, beverage, serving pieces.

dining room wall storage

A few things were key to me:

  1. A large buffet for food spreads.
  2. One area designated for drinks, mixers, and everything you need to help yourself.
  3. An area for the plates and silverware to be stored for easy access.
  4. Storage – lots and lots of storage. All of the above had to have the appropriate things in their designated station. So that when it came time to set out the plates and silverware, everything was in that part of the room. No hunting and gathering. The drinks and wine opener, cocktail napkins, etc. were by the drinks. All of my serving platters and bowls by the buffet.

Thinking through how you will use a space is so important. A buffet may not be right for you if you prefer sit and pass. In that case maybe you need a china cabinet to house it all to grab from one piece of furniture and set on the table.

Formal dining room storage and cabinet built in. White cabinet with gold hardware.

dining room cabinets

The original floor plan did not have built in’s flanking the fireplace. There were large cut outs. The previous owners had pieces of furniture in them with mirrors on the wall but that wasn’t enough dining room wall storage for me. So we had giant spaces on each side to work with. The fireplace came with the house that did not get touched. It’s one of my favorite things in the house. I’m in love with the crisp white color and wood working. Perfection! And so beautiful to have in the winter.

Dining Room built ins. White fireplace and wood mantel. dining room cabinets

The primary dining room wall storage are on both sides. The left side houses my plates and silverware. Since I was going full on custom I splurged and had the drawer’s custom made to my specifications. I laid out all of my silver (it’s stainless steel actually not real silver) and what I wanted in each drawer, and took exact measurements. Our fantastic cabinet designer built each drawer around my measurements. I also splurged greatly by having them lined in velvet. He and my designer initially thought I’d use my typical gray but I surprised everyone by using red. I wanted that almost Louboutin sexy reveal. It has that element of surprise and elegance when you open it. The cabinetry owner jokingly called them “The Queens drawers!” So true. Hey, if the crown fits. These drawers make me feel like a princess and I get giddy every time I open them!

Formal dining room furniture.
Below the silverware is where my plates are. Peg boards are nice and adjustable should your storage items change.

The counter of each of the dining room cabinets is Carrera Marble. Typically, I’m not a giant fan of this because I don’t think it’s user friendly but since this space wouldn’t be used often I decided to go for it. I love it. The center doors open and push back for what I want to use the space, but close for a finished look. There are glass shelves that are adjustable as I change what I display over the years. The side cabinets have the same.

formal dining room ideas. dining room wall storage

Custom Cabinetry ideas.

The right hand side of the fireplace is my drink station. I have wine and bourbon set out with high ball glasses right there. My husband likes bourbon on occasion so it’s nice to have it ready for him.

dining room storage

The very top of both dining room cabinets are four doors that open to wide open dining room wall storage space. Here’s why – as I’ve shared before, our kids and I decorate my manzanita centerpiece for every holiday. I wanted to have my holiday decor right there and easily accessible. It’s way up high so I just grab a ladder and it’s out of the way.

The dining room cabinets storage space do not have dividers behind it and go all the way back as far as possible. The more space the better!

The paint color is Benjamin Moore Brushed Aluminum and I share more imagery of this paint color here.

shop formal dining room wall storage look

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Formal dining room cabinetry by: Dukeman Custom Woodworking

Some photos by me, some by Sara D Harper.

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  • susanmp14
    March 24, 2017

    Very well thought out plan. It’s just beautiful. I love the choice of hardware, the champaign (?) color is not something you see every day. Just love it.

    • Kelly
      March 26, 2017

      Thank you, Susan! I appreciate you saying it’s well thought out. After a few holidays here and dinners, I haven’t regretted it. My hope was that others who had empty giant spaces in their room gave themselves the “ok” to just live in their home for awhile without feeling like it has to be done or rushed, you know? Thanks for your comment!

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