The Maple Lake family ditches the formal dining room for a luxury play space

The challenge: Vicki and Matt Marohn’s traditional two-story house, which they built in Maple Lake in 2004, had a traditional formal dining room. But the couple found that the only time they used it for dinner was at Christmas gatherings. The rest of the year was wasted space – except when it became a catch-all drop zone for excess stuff. “Our kitchen already had a large dining area,” Vicki said. “With two teenagers, we decided that a playroom made a lot more sense.”

The Marohns also requested that the converted space have earthy design details to make it warm and welcoming for playing games and entertaining.

The renovation project should be done within the existing footprint of the dining room. “I didn’t want it to look like a themed room, but to belong with the rest of the house,” Vicki added.

The designer: Lisa Ball, Design by Lisa,, 952-261-2027. The contractor was Plekkenpol Builders, Bloomington.

Old World Pub: An arched, weathered-looking stone wall, antique mirror, and black-stained cabinetry “give it an air of a game room pub,” Ball said.

Matt has always had a thing for tin ceilings, so Ball covered the existing ceiling with intricate copper-gloss tin tiles. “Sometimes caps are things that get overlooked,” Ball said. The pewter tile was inexpensive and gives the room a finished look. “Our biggest fear was that the pewter would make the room dark,” Vicki added. “But it reflects the light from the windows.”

Practical bar and buffet: The long granite countertop is ideal for mixing drinks and serving food at large gatherings. “It was a great place to make hors d’oeuvres while on vacation,” Vicki said.

Knotty alder cabinets above and below the counter provide abundant storage space, including a built-in wine rack. Vicki places wine and drink glasses behind grained glass doors in two cabinets under the arch. “Bubbles give glass doors a handcrafted aged look,” Ball said.

Let’s play darts: Ball designed a stone niche to hold a dartboard, with cabinet doors that can be closed when not in use.

Statement Stone: The games room wall is Hedberg Supply’s Broadwater Ledge stone. The natural stone veneer was installed directly to the wall, with exposed mortar joints, Ball said. She added wrought iron sconces for ambiance.

Stay in character: Ball echoed the house’s existing archways in the design of the arched stone wall of the playroom. The wooden cabinet door is also similar in style to kitchen cabinets.

“The rec room is architecturally interesting,” Ball said, “and unexpected when you walk through the front door.”

Economical reuse: Les Marrons have kept the bay window and the chandelier in the dining room. They placed a large rug on the low maintenance ceramic tile floor. “The light fixture will work if they ever turn it into a dining room,” Ball said.

The result: The former Plain-Jane Room now sports an Old World character, and the Marohn family uses this once-forgotten space every day. Children and their friends play billiards or air hockey on the double game table or deal cards at the high table near the bay window. In the morning, the Marohns occupy the place of the window to sip a coffee. “It gives our family another place to spend time together,” Vicki said.

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