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Redefining unused rooms to suit your current needs

NOW, more than ever before, it may be time to rethink traditional room labels and forget the names that appear on architectural floor plans. Numerous interior designers say that one of their prime functions today is to help people take a fresh look at all the space they have available and then reevaluate how to use it to suit current needs.

Reassessing space, particularly wasted space, helps many families live more comfortably with what they have, particularly if they find the cost of moving, remodeling, or building a new home too high to consider right now.

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In today's ''room switching,'' little-used dining rooms are becoming all-purpose family rooms; libraries or dens do double duty as dining rooms; and spare bedrooms become hobby areas, home offices, or den-studies.

People are reclaiming unused corridor spaces, breakfast nooks, and sun porches and making them work more usefully in new ways.

Shown here are two examples of old rooms that have been given new labels and new uses. Myna Fischer, a retired fashion designer, nowcc17pUFmrk,19l

spends more time in her Manhattan apartment. So she asked interior designer Elizabeth Matthews to help her rethink the way she was using her rooms, rearrange her furniture, and select paint and wallpaper to freshen backgrounds.

In this case, the designer and her client decided to rework the old dinette space off the kitchen into a smart new music-sitting-writing room. The small spinet piano that used to stand somewhat awkwardly in the entrance hall was placed in the center of the dinette wall, where it could be played more easily and more often.

A custom arrangement of dark wood shelves, cabinets, and bookcases from Naomi Gale, a decorative source, was built in around it. Then Mrs. Fischer's antique clock, her silver and crystal treasures, and her Meissen and Limoges plates were artistically arranged on the open shelves. The whole wall was then lightedUFmrk, 51l

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from ceiling fixtures, making it a genuine decorating focal point for the entire apartment.

Erstwhile white walls of the dinette were covered with a rich, shiny wallpaper from Charterhouse. Its pattern is subtle, blending blacks, browns, and tans with silver. ''The dark, mellow metallic wallpaper gives the room depth and reflective value and actually makes its 8-foot-by-9-foot-6-inch dimensions appear larger,'' Miss Matthews explains. A small round table was placed in one corner for note writing, phone calls, and meals on a tray. A comfortable antique French chair (which can also be pulled quickly into the living room) and an Oriental rug complete the new setting.

The round glass-topped dining table and two dining chairs, which were formerly in the middle of the dinette, were moved out to the window end of the living room, where guests can enjoy the views of summer flowers blooming on the terrace and Park Avenue stretching below.

Says Mrs. Fischer, ''My new room works beautifully for me. I love playing my piano now. And the new wall storage units keep my silver, china, and linens together in a more orderly manner. Now when I entertain I simply close the piano , cover it with a white linen tablecloth, and use it to serve buffet-style.''

Meanwhile, Patricia and Peter Eigo, who have a 1930s home in Westchester County, N.Y., decided to convert their enclosed sun porch into an extension of the family living room. The sun porch had turned into an unattractive catchall, and they decided to reclaim it.

They painted the walls the same neutral beige as the living room walls and also chose the same patterned brown wall-to-wall carpet that is in their living room. Family recreation was the purpose of theiruffeajump,20p4 ROOMSROOMStransformation. They, too, put their upright piano in the newly redecorated area.

They lacquered their game table and chairs a soft, pale green and selected maroon and beige chintz for slipcovering chairs and piano bench. Because they needed to control the strong sunlight that poured through the multiple windows, they discovered made-to-measure draperies by Burlington House in a local department store at a fraction of custom-made drapery costs. They can tie back the lined semi-sheer draperies or allow them to hang straight.

The Eigos figure that for the cost of paint, carpet, fabric, and draperies, they are getting a great deal of new use out of what used to be a dowdy old sun room.

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