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We belles both live in homes with some age on them…in fact, we only hope we can last as long as they already have…pushing 90 years! Now, although a home with some “character” makes us both quite happy – and never at a loss for a “project” (upgraded plumbing…and while we’re at it, honey, how about we just re-do all the bathrooms), we find that we have to be creative when it comes to making an “antique home” more functional for 21st-century living.

Take, for instance, our formal living rooms and dining rooms. While we belles simply adore a formal dinner party with all the fixins’, we find that our entertaining of late tends to fit in the more laid-back realm. So…we started to re-think the placement and use of our formal dining rooms by doing some flip-flopping (to brilliant effect, if we must say so ourselves!). Our old dining rooms are now our living rooms…and vice-versa (kind of), and we are loving it!!  Here are the results:

Belle Maison no. 1…


Here, the dining table (styled as a library table) has been placed in the former living room. With ample seating remaining in the room, this is a welcoming area for family and guests alike…


The view from the banquette side of the room. Notice that there is plenty of room to slide the leaves back into the table for the next formal dinner


This room (the former dining room) now “catches” guests as they amble from the kitchen (through that door) to the outdoor entertaining area to the right…


Notice the outdoor entertaining area just out of the French doors (this is the view from the new library/dining room).  Working brilliantly so far!

Belle maison no. 2…


This is the former dining room.  The kitchen is to the left…outdoor entertaining area is through the French doors.  Guests congregate here now that the switch has been made…not so much when it was a dining room (just sayin’)


This is the other side of the room, with the new, re-styled dining room through the opening…


Again, this dining table has been styled with more of a library feel…


with seating around the fire.  (junior belle is loving this room for homework!!  Bonus!!)

Again…keep in mind…we’ve left plenty of room to have leaves put back into the tables. With just a couple of minor adjustments, the rooms are ready for a formal dinner party in a snap!

This is the same view with the room set for a large dinner (16 guests last night!):

tables all set…..

So…after we played around with our own rooms, we had a couple of belle-friends begging for an overhaul themselves. We were more than happy to oblige and got straight to work…there’s no time like the present! (and if we had allowed them to over-think it, they might have chickened out…no fun!)

Belle Maison no. 3…


This delightful space used to be the formal dining room in this belle’s house.  Although it seemed logical to have it located just off the kitchen, it actually created a bottle-neck for guests trying to navigate from the kitchen to a bar area located just to the right.


Here, you see the kitchen door (to the right) and the bar area straight ahead.  By moving the dining table into the former living room, guests can now move about freely while visiting before dinner (and the hostess only has a few extra steps in order to reach the dining area…totally worth it!)


…and the dining table is now in a more “roomy” room…perfect for this particular belle-hostess who loves a large, seated dinner party

Belle Maison no. 4…
(Some cool before and after photos)

Living/sitting room adjacent to the kitchen/bar…check.

Making use of the dining table while enjoying the fire…check.

Ability to throw a formal, seated shindig in a snap…check.

Now, we belles call that a smashin’ success!!

The men-folk are talking about our shenanigans behind our backs…but we know they secretly like the new digs. A little change adds some spice to the home life, just sayin’. So…grab a (strong) friend and switch it up, belles!!