Is it okay to switch the living room with the dining room?

I’ve been absent from these pages for a while, and here’s why: we just moved 2,000 miles from Seattle to Chicago! What a change – the biggest part of which, at the moment, is our living space. We went from 880 square feet in a 1940s cottage to 2,000+ in a giant 1800s-era two-story house. (Lest you think we suddenly came into some money, we’re renting.) When I first saw the house, the previous tenants were using the dining room as a living room.

I just chalked that up to their age – guys in their 20s don’t tend to value décor, in my experience. But now that we’re in the house, I confess we’re considering doing the exact same thing. Despite all the space, we’re having trouble setting up the living room to comfortably watch TV (and I can admit: we like TV). There’s a huge open archway, an awkward room off the entry through another archway, and a three-window nook. The only wall big enough for the TV is also the only wall big enough for the couch. Putting the couch against the windows looks weird. I am adamantly against putting a TV in front of a window. And floating the couch in the middle of the room messes up traffic flow. The dining room, on the other hand, has two good-sized walls for both TV and couch, as well as a lot more electrical outlets. So, what do you think: have you ever switched up the layout of the house like that? Will we be risking the wrath of the feng shui gods if we do?

From our partners

I swapped the living room and dining room at my last place. It just made so much more sense!

Welcome to Chicago! What neighborhood did you wind u in? Let me know if you need dog walker or veterinary referrals!

Are those a leonberger and a newfie? We’ve got a big black newfus and a bull mastiff, love the large breeds!


I did this in not one, but two apartments I’ve lived in. Both were of similar vintage and had VERY similar layouts to yours; lots of windows and doorways and a dining room with better walls for LR arrangement. An unexpected bonus was that the LR ended up being cozier because it was further away from the front door, and thus didn’t get the winter drafts when the door was opened.

We currently have a tenant in one of those apartments now who’s done something totally different, but works surprisingly well too. Since the entry hall has multiple doorways, she sacrificed the large one into the traditional LR by hanging a heavy curtain in it – thus creating a new “wall” – and then put her couch backing onto the curtain. It sounds makeshift, but it’s actually not awkward at all: remember that the victorians hung curtains in doorways all the time for heat and draft control.

Sarah S

I strongly considered it in my current house – the ‘dining room’ (which I think was originally a den) has a fireplace in it, and I thought that would make a nicer living room. But the living room is right in the middle of the house and the dining room is right next to the kitchen, so the flow didn’t make sense. The original dining room is now sort of a weird laundry room/hallway thanks to some odd additions/modifications a previous owner did.

Mary S

Thanks for all the great responses! I’ll do a followup with what we decide. Ellen, we are in Logan Square and yes, I’d love some referrals!

Erin, actually they are two long-haired English Mastiffs (both rescues), known as “Fluffy Mastiffs.” Because the long hair is not a breed standard, they end up in shelters. We had the larger (Sofa) and then later got the couch hog (Dilly). LOVE them. Did make finding a place to rent challenging, though!


Wow! That’s quite the change! What made leave Seattle? I would switch the rooms around! Have fun in your new city!


I’m a little envious! We both feel like trying something new and want to leave the PNW but wonder can we sell our house right now and not take a beating? We also have two boxers which we thought would make renting impossible. However I see you two have done it! Did you sell your house in Seattle?

Mary S

Hi, Jill — we’re working on selling the house. Our realtor is encouraged because very few people are selling right now, so the people who DO want to buy are really motivated. We moved for a combination of job opportunity and being a little closer to family. I already miss low tide on Alki, though.


As far as I’m concerned, it’s your space and if that makes sense for your usage, then go for it. Who cares? You’re the ones who have to live with it and make it work.

That will make your house some big changes, anyway I wanted to see the progress if the outcome would be great. Keep us updated.