Home & Garden

Relocating the dining room to maximize the use of natural light inside the house

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In my mother’s house, all through the years that my brother and I were growing up, the room assignments and arrangement of furniture and appliances stayed the same. The living area was in the same spot, the couch, armchairs, coffee table and foot stools arranged like so… Same thing with the dining area and the kitchen. Like they were permanently glued to the floor. For twenty plus years. I moved out when I got married, moved back in with Speedy and the girls (still babies then) for a couple of years and, during the few years that we were there, that house saw a lot of change. A LOT OF CHANGE.

The furniture were like doing a musical chair game every few months, even the living and dining areas were swapped places one time, colors were changed, the old heavy drapes were thrown out and I put up light airy ones… I’m like that. It isn’t simply a matter of aesthetics. Unless you weren’t paying attention to your Psych 101 teacher in college, the environment affects a person’s moods and outlook in life day after day after day. The environment can lead to inspiration, frustration or depression. And a person’s most immediate and most intimate environment is the house he lives in.

That need for an environment that inspires rather than frustrates became more pronounced for me when I decided that I wanted to stop being a lawyer (if a lawyer really ever stops being a lawyer) and become a writer. When we moved to this house, I created an environment that will allow me to do just that. A place to write. Locations for taking photos — locations basked in natural light.

This house has so many windows — large windows — and natural light was not a problem.

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The dining area where most of the food photos were shot has French doors (leading to the lanai cum driveway) on one side…

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… and windows on another side. In short, I had all the natural light I needed.

Then, the inevitable happened sooner that we thought. Someone built a house behind ours and the natural light coming through the windows in the dining area was blocked by an ugly gray concrete wall.

To make a long story short, we relocated the dining area with the hope of achieving three things.

1. Maximize natural light which I so need for taking food photos;

2. Declutter (some say it isn’t a grammatically correct word but it illustrates the intention perfectly) the kitchen by moving the dining stuff into the dining area; and

3. Vacate my study upstairs to give Sam the space for a studio.

We managed all three. Speedy did, mostly. And what a job he did! Applause, applause! Standing ovation! The dining area used to be next to the living area and the colors were all in earth tones — brown, orange and beige. The relocated dining room is now in what used to be a bedroom and I chose cool colors this time — off-white walls and aqua / light green / white curtains.

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The new dining room now benefits from the light coming in through the large wide windows on one side…

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… and the light coming through the glass sliding door that leads to the garden.

To achieve an even cooler visual effect, no yellows and oranges. The curtains we got cheap (PHP245.00 per panel), we had to hire someone to paint over the green walls white, mostly to cover the ugly dark splotches which Speedy says are the result of bad waterproofing. Or, perhaps, it’s really a case of time and the elements doing things to a house that no one can prevent.

Now, about decluttering the kitchen…

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There was a chest of drawers upstairs in my former study with a removable upper cabinet. Speedy attached the two back together and had everything the exteriors re-varnished to match the dark wood of the dining room table and chairs.

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And he transferred the plates, flatware and other stuff for everyday use.

Then, yesterday, he took out everything from the kitchen cabinets and we sorted out what we didn’t need anymore. By sunset, quite magically, we had lots and lots of space.

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Speedy decluttered my old study some more by bringing down my cookbooks which he arranged on a kitchen shelf. Now, everything — cookbooks, iMac and iPad — are all downstairs for my easy reference when cooking and writing. And just where has my study been relocated? I’ve posted a photo before but I’ll repost it anyway.

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My study is now next to the bar.

Nice, eh?

Decluttering is good. Really. Whether it’s really a word or not.

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