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What do you think? Does a house need a formal dinning room?

Colleen Bear
3 years ago

We are trying to come up with floor plans for a custom home and was wondering what your thoughts are about formal dinning rooms. Would you only want a home with a formal dinning room or would one eating space be enough? Personally we rarely ever use our formal dinning, usually only for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Bunco and maybe one other time a year. So instead of having a formal dinning room that is rarely used and a breakfast nook that isn't really big enough to use, we thought we would do a dinning area off of the kitchen and den. I would like it to seat 8 and have room for a side table. It's just the tow of us, so it would be great for us, but I want to make sure that it would not hurt resale in the future. What are your thoughts, please?

Comments (161)

  • jmm1837
    3 years ago

    To be fair, I think what Anglophilia is talking about isn't so much "civility," which can be found in many situations, but "graciousness" which is a slightly different thing.

    I like to think civility will be found at any dinner I host for my friends, in my open area kitchen/dining/living room, with the only table we have. We (hubby and I) eat all our meals on it every day, but when the guests come, we put on a better tablecloth, the "good" dishes (not fine china, I admit) and I'm afraid, the same old inexpensive glasses and cutlery. We do a nice meal, lots of wine, very good coffee (I love my Rancilio Silvia), and a nice "digestivo" or two. Nobody has ever complained.

    As we age, and I'm speaking strictly from my personal viewpoint, simpler is better and I just don't want to be bothered with fine china and cut glass when I can entertain my friends and family without having to worry about breakage, clean up or damage. And they don't seem to have an issue. So, no, my entertaining doesn't have the level of graciousness being described, but it does have the level of civility. I'm good with that.

  • Milly Rey
    3 years ago

    I don’t think graciousness is the same as elaborateness.

    Aside from that, though, I’m all for using grandma’s China and silver (my phone really wants to capitalize that and I’m too lazy to keep correcting it), or my own, but the day I keep back a whole room from ordinary use or that I tell people not to spill on my tablecloth is the day the pod people have taken me. If I chose to use the handmade lace on the table instead of machine lace, it would be because I was okay with what that means.

    I have actually lost most of my antique handmade lace napkins over the years because eventually, they do get stained beyond fixing or simply worn through. It’s sad, but the alternative is so much worse. I just keep one of each back to be passed down, since the work was done by my kids’ great-great grandmother. The hand-tatted bedspread that’s around a century old, otoh, hasn’t seen the light of day since my first kid could walk. Lol.

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  • jmm1837
    3 years ago

    I kept a few old pieces of handmade lace, and framed them. The rest are long gone. After my mother died, a couple of things she had went to a small town museum near where she grew up in the 20s. A bit of history preserved.

  • Milly Rey
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I keep one of each pristine because I have sentimental kids—I couldn’t decide what deserved framing and what didn’t. (They are already fighting over who gets what. My preschooler and an elementary schooler nearly came to blows over their great-great grandfather’s rocking chair this summer....). But the rest has been used for 100+ years and was literally made for use. So I don’t mind continuing to use it.

    What I would kill to find more of are real linen napkins that actually WORK—and never wrinkle! What is with napkins that don’t absorb anything????? lol.

  • 2ManyDiversions
    3 years ago

    cpartist, this is exactly why DH and I are doing away with the formal dining room, or rather one of the reasons...

    I entertained in my much-wanted dining room a total of 2 times in 19 years. It was gorgeous, with all my family's keep-sake linens, silver, and china, but no one ever saw it. I rarely walked in there myself. Unused, it's wasted space.

    Our current kitchen table has a very gross table cloth on it - purchased at Wally-world for DH's not-so-unique ability to spill everything! But I hate that grossly dirty tablecloth and want to be rid of it (after our reno, I'm coming up with something else!). I prefer an easy to wipe off table. Mine currently is not water friendly.

    When we are better caught-up with the whole-house reno, I will again have candles lit for dinners, DH will stop leaving his coat on his chair (why can't he hang things up!?), and we will have civility and beauty again... without our formal dining room.

    So yes, I DO think one needs a DR and one should actually USE IT from time to time. This is what I thought would happen in my life, but it hasn't. So if one has room, wonderful (we don't, our home is just over 2,050 sq. ft., and that's 2,000 sq. ft. more than I care to clean!). Again, it depends on location, lifestyle, etc. as regards a formal dining room. And yes, one can have civility, the finer graces. All it takes is a tiny bit of effort. Formal rooms of any type are not a requirement for such.

  • miss lindsey (She/Her)
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    @ Milly Rey the new "linen" napkins are cheapchinesecrapola as another poster says!

    The first time I hosted a meal my large extended family-in-law were terrified to use the white linens. They got the message pretty quickly that at lindsey's house the napkins are for wiping hands, not for preserving in snow white holiness. Now they appreciate them :-)

  • suzyq53
    3 years ago

    Lindsay - Wiping hands is one thing; I have seen people blow their noses in cloth napkins at restaurants. DISGUSTING!

  • 2ManyDiversions
    3 years ago

    lindsey... LOL! I actually do have nice napkins (DH was aghast the first time he saw them! "We can't use these, they'll get dirty!" Uh, no kidding!). We do use them daily, and they wash wonderfully! But the white linen napkins... gave away. They did not wash well!

  • Kathi Steele
    3 years ago

    Thought I would put in my two cents worth.

    We have a formal living room and formal dining room. We use them regularly.

    We also have an open concept kitchen, eating area and family room.

    The problem, IMHO, with open concept is...when you have multi generational gatherings, it can get very chaotic. We have "Sunday" dinner each week as a way to stay connected with everyone in the family. We eat in the dining room with NO TV (!!! GASP !!!) and have wonderful discussions about the past week and the upcoming week. My 3 year old grand daughter loves to eat in the "special" room because there are no electronic distractions and we all talk to one another. She says "Grandma, these rooms are so amazing!"

    But, I like the openness of the kitchen, eating area and family room. While we are cooking, it keeps everyone in the loop and not isolated. And we can keep up with the football scores!

    Lindsey, at every gathering at my house, my in-laws kept referring to the fact they were just "regular" folks and did not need these fancy plates and glasses and napkins. Needless to say, we rarely got along!!!

    I think the moral is, you need to do what you think suits you for as long as you will be in the house.

    Colleen Bear thanked Kathi Steele
  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    for DH's not-so-unique ability to spill everything

    When we are better caught-up with the whole-house reno, I will again have candles lit for dinners, DH will stop leaving his coat on his chair (why can't he hang things up!?), and we will have civility and beauty again... without our formal dining room.

    Wait a sec! What are you doing with my husband?

  • miss lindsey (She/Her)
    3 years ago

    Lol @suzyq, every so often I catch my husband just in time to prevent that...

    We use regular stained up old cotton for everyday, have had them ten years at least.

  • jmm1837
    3 years ago
    I've been using block printed tablecloths from India on my table for day to day use for years. They hide a multitude of sins! I put better tablecloths out when we have company. And fabric napkins - I hate paper ones.
  • Milly Rey
    3 years ago

    I took an employee out to lunch while I had a terrible cold, and I accidentally sneezed in the napkin—no time for anything else. Still embarrassed about that!

    Napkins are now treated with stain resistant coatings that make it so they absorb nothing. So frustrating!!!

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    3 years ago

    The Thanksgiving "guests" were DD, her husband, her two sons, her father (my ex), and me. Of course, she would NEVER tell non-family to be careful of the cloth, but family (the two boys in particular), absolutely!

    We each use our beautiful antique Irish linen damask cloths once a year. I use lovely placemats on other DR occasions as does she. I have found amazing ones on eBay for very little - linen/organdy Madeira ones that new, from a place such as Leron, would cost $450 EACH, not including the matching napkin. I've paid under $100 for 6-8, including the napkins! They're easy to wash and iron and look so pretty.

    I could care less if everyone else on earth feels that paper clothes and paper plates and pre-cooked dinners from Kroger are the way to go for their family. That's there business, not mine. But I have lovely things and I enjoy using them. I used them when my children were growing up and now they, too, value and enjoy them. I'm hoping there may be some slight chance that my grandchildren will feel the same and they all won't end up on eBay or EBTH! Yes, washing up takes much longer than just throwing everything in the dishwasher, but to me (and to my children!), it's worth it.

    When I was growing up, we lived in a small apt in Kansas City. It had no DR - just barely room for a table in the kitchen. But every single Sunday, my mother would set up the folding card table in the LR, put a folding round top on it to make it larger, and we would eat Sunday dinner (right after church) there, using my mother's Spode, sterling flatware and crystal. My mother said it was what made it bearable to live in this small apt while they were trying to build a house.

    When my children were growing up (as soon as they were out of the high chair), we ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room every single day. I quickly found that my children's manners were better in the DR than at the table in the kitchen, no one would think of putting a milk carton or a box of cereal on the table in there, but they sure might in the kitchen. I'm sure that doesn't matter to most people today, but it did to me.

    In the South, there is a tradition of "gentile poverty" that came out of the Civil War. No one had any money but many still had a few "nice" things. Using them and treasuring them, was "gentile poverty", and it sure was better than being just plain dirt poor. My other grew up in that tradition - she was born in 1908, and one must realize it was not that long after the Civil War.

    My late husband was a teacher and we were far from wealthy. But we did have some very lovely things. Using them, made not having much money far easier to accept.

    As to the $250 once a year to launder the cloth - I don't think that would have made much of a dent in the college fund DD and her husband set up when she got pregnant the first time. The cost of laundering the cloth has gone up, but the UPS charges for delivery on a roller has gone up a LOT. Let's say she's spent $3500 over the past 17 years laundering that cloth - a pittance to the $280,000 they will most likely pay to educate one child if he gets into one of the colleges to which he has applied.

    I would never build a house if it meant that I had to cut out all less-used rooms in order to do so. As for those who live in houses that already have a formal DR, how would you suggest we use that "excess" room? Bring up the ping pong table from the finished basement? Add yet another TV room to the house that already has two?

    You live the way you want to live; I'll live the way I prefer, and I WILL try to influence how my grandchildren may choose to live. I can't control it, nor would I want to do so, but influencing is what grandparents do.

  • Suru
    3 years ago

    I'm in the minority here, but I will have a kitchen island with seating, a breakfast nook, and a dining room. We've been living in student housing (tiny, tiny, place) for the last 6 months and there is absolutely no place for a table. We've been eating every meal on a plate on our laps on the couch. After doing that for 6 months, I can't wait to eat in a dining room again. Probably will eat every meal there from now on LOL.

    I'm also on the same page as Anglophilia when it comes to using nice things. I love having formal dinners and getting out all the good family heirloom china and silver. I've inherited or been gifted by friends so many different sets of china that I have something different for almost every occasion. I'm pretty sure my friends and family enjoy all the hoopla too, because they always want to come to my house for all the birthday parties, holidays, and general get-togethers. All the formality and specialness makes me and the family happy, so we go with it :-)

  • hollybar
    3 years ago

    For us,yes our dining room is necessary. We use it all the time both for dinner when it is just the family (husband far prefers it) and for dinner parties once or twice a month. I don't want to look at any mess/pots or pans during said parties so having a room separate works for us. The kitchen is open to a small eating area and a step down den. All get used,usually civilly.

    Colleen Bear thanked hollybar
  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    I'm also on the same page as Anglophilia when it comes to using nice things. I love having formal dinners and getting out all the good family heirloom china and silver. I've inherited or been gifted by friends so many different sets of china that I have something different for almost every occasion. I'm pretty sure my friends and family enjoy all the hoopla too, because they always want to come to my house for all the birthday parties, holidays, and general get-togethers. All the formality and specialness makes me and the family happy, so we go with it :-)

    And that's why you NEED a formal dining room. Because it's obvious it will be used and not just 2-3x a year.

    My sister needs a formal dining room too. She is always entertaining and even when it's buffet style, the dining room is where she sets up the food.

    I don't need a formal dining room because I can count on two hands the number of times I used the formal dining room in my last house.

    Neither is right or wrong. It's just what is right or wrong for how you live. If you entertain formally, then yes, put in the dining room. If not, then don't. I wouldn't worry about resale because a well thought out house, with or without a formal dining room will find a buyer.

  • suzyq53
    3 years ago

    Hopefully Anglophilia means "genteel poverty". I was born in the South as were my parents and all our relatives. They weren't from wealthy families but everyone had formal china and sterling and crystal and crocheted and embroidered linen. Much of it was family heirlooms, but people also got these kind of things for wedding gifts. I recall many happy family occasions in the formal dining room. A room often larger than the parlor. But times have really changed. None of the kids or grandchildren want any of this old timey stuff. And good luck selling it anywhere. I've tried.

  • Milly Rey
    3 years ago

    My kids are incredibly sentimental about such things, so they’re fighting over who gets what china already. Luckily for them, none of my cousins wanted anything.

    We always used formal dining rooms when we got together when I was a kid because the breakfast nook was too small for crowds. My fond memories are about the people, not that it was in a particular room. And certainly there are emotions attached to the objects used then—which I can use anywhere I want. Our breakfast area will be much larger and will be able to handle a crowd. And I can hide dirty pans in the sink. ;)

    It does no one any good to overpay for college. My kids go to one of the best universities in the country for STEM, business, and medicine. They have bachelor’s for $50k and will get paid for their master’s, given their plans so far. In all cases, expense, quality, and ROI are easily confused.

  • Kate
    3 years ago

    I recently saw a "news" piece on television that showed all the different things formal dining rooms had been converted into--from studies to exercise rooms to storage spaces. I agree with the earlier post that said the kitchen or family room eating space should be big enough to comfortably seat eight, however. It will not lower the value of your house, not a speck.

    Colleen Bear thanked Kate
  • clabella23
    3 years ago

    First, I thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. Second, My parents always lived in houses with both eat-in kitchens and dining rooms. As the family grew larger my parents used the dining room even for very casual meals like pizza with the grandkids. We would always ask them “where are we eating?” when we came over. So while my current dining room can handle formal dining- it also works well for poker night and family Scrabble games. So, IMHO a house requires a multi-purpose flex space - other than a basement, whose use can be modified over time to accommodate changing priorities.

    Colleen Bear thanked clabella23
  • Kristin S
    3 years ago

    A little late to the thread (and far off the original topic), but for those looking for good cloth napkins, I've had really good luck with ones from Pottery Barn and Etsy. The ones from Target were surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) awful, as were the ones from Crate and Barrel. And patterns hide a multitude of sins (which is needed, since we use them for most dinners).

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Suzyq, thanks for the spelling correction. Sometimes spellcheck does some VERY strange things and if I don't proof my post before hitting "submit", I'm often in for a few surprises! I had not noticed this and I've now corrected the spelling!

    If you have napkin stains, you need to buy some Biz. It's available just about everywhere and a good long soak will remove EVERYTHING from them. I once hosted a bridal shower and two of the guests wore a LOT of makeup. My gawd, when I saw the napkins after they left, it looked like they had tried to remove all their makeup using their napkin! Not only lipstick but oily foundation stains.

    I soaked the antique linen napkins in Biz and a bit of Tide for a week. Then I hand washed them (delicate lace edging). They came out spotless.

    Biz is also perfect for baby spit stains. I used to keep a Biz-bucket next to the changing table - water, Biz, bit of baby-safe detg. Stained clothes went right in the bucket, and about every two or three days, I'd dump out the solution in the bathtub and then take the garments to the basement and wash them. Worked a charm!

  • zorroslw1
    3 years ago

    In our previous old 2 story home ( we lived there over 40 years) we had both an eatin kitchen and a formal dining room. The formal dining room was beautiful! We used it on holidays and whenever we had guests and sometimes just because we liked to eat in there. When we built our new retirement home it has an open floor plan. But one thing I had to have was a space large enough for a semi formal table. I still use my Lenox or linen tablecloths for holidays along with either my Christmas China or my antique Currier and Ives dishes and my good silver. I use the kitchen island as the buffet server. I miss not having a separate formal dining room, but I still insist on setting a beautiful table.

    Colleen Bear thanked zorroslw1
  • Milly Rey
    3 years ago

    I was thinking about this, and about the hierarchy of privacy that makes for a comfortable home.

    Some folks come here with plans where you could practically die of exposure in the house. All of the living space is completely open, without even an L shape or a stairway to give a sense of division or heirarchy. The bedrooms are even straight off the main space with no buffer. The laundry room isn’t even tucked away. And it isn’t because the floor plan is too small. Sarah Susanka’s insistence on combining the family entry with the public entry is somewhat related. (So obvious that she has no kids!!!)

    These houses, in the real world, are loud, uncomfortable, and feel small even when they are 4000 sqft.

    These houses are usually cluttered, too, because it’s harder to keep a space organized that is inherently not organized. Guests feel uncomfortable because they feel thrust into intimacy that’s inappropriate. The house over-shares.

    The opposite extreme is Versailles. lol. A ton of rooms with dedicated purposes and people having different levels of access to different places depending on their relationship to the family.

    In actual construction today, this home would have a very careful hierarchy of public vs private spaces. These homes are very welcoming. Sarah Susanka is, I think, wrong in her belief that 2 story foyers are primarily there to impress. They’re much more likely to be there to feel like an expansive welcome—like double doors (theoretically, not in reality, lol) they provide a transition between the sky-high outdoors and the inherently more intimate home but still feel more public because of their volume.

    I think many people who like formal dining rooms like this heirachy a lot. They like ceremony, too. For a few families, and for a lot of older people without younger generations who stay for a long time, lol, it is reasonable to have a room just to fulfill this need.

    I am adamant about separation between spaces, about doors, and about walls (just had friends over for the first time, and they, too, waxed poetic about kocking down a wall I think is bananas to get rid of, even if it weren’t load bearing. What would I do with a room that’s 28x30’ with a 14x8’ corner taken out of it????? Other than kill myself because now the only TV in the house is in the room with the real piano....).

    But I think this can be done in rooms that are used. We always had a formal dining room growing up, and it was rarely used for dining but was constantly used for every other kind of project. Flexible rooms, that have both enough flow and enough separation, that maintain the hierarchy of privacy but don’t restrict uses to one thing, are what most people today need.

    I think a lot of people looking for bigger houses feel that theirs is small only because it lacks defined and quiet places—or, conversely, that the spaces they have are too restrictive, either by use of design.

    Personally, I would have room for a formal dining room, fullstop, around 7000 square feet. Lol. There are so many other spaces I would rather have first.

    Colleen Bear thanked Milly Rey
  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    And it isn’t because the floor plan is too small. Sarah Susanka’s insistence on combining the family entry with the public entry is somewhat related. (So obvious that she has no kids!!!)

    Firstly if I recall from her books that is not what she is advocating. What she suggests is having the mudroom feed into the foyer, meaning they are two separate spaces but when you enter into the actual house area, you're entering the space that greet the guests. It's been a while since I read her first book and don't have it down here in FL so if I'm incorrect, please show me.

    These houses, in the real world, are loud, uncomfortable, and feel small even when they are 4000 sqft.

    Which is what Sarah Susanka keeps saying too.

    These houses are usually cluttered, too

    Actually well designed open spaces are not cluttered. It's the builder specials where no thought to organization has taken place where I agree with you. However a well designed open space doesn't necessarily mean clutter. Good designers and architects help plan for storage.

    But I think this can be done in rooms that are used. We always had a formal dining room growing up, and it was rarely used for dining but was constantly used for every other kind of project. Flexible rooms, that have both enough flow and enough separation, that maintain the hierarchy of privacy but don’t restrict uses to one thing, are what most people today need.

    Which I agree with you and which is the main premise of Sarah Susanka's books.

    But to your point, there needs to be spaces that humans can escape to. It doesn't have to be a fully enclosed room. It could be a partially enclosed window seat to sit and look out the window or read a book. It could be another room, or it could be a screened off area of a larger room. There was a reason pocket doors were so popular during the late Victorian era, early 20th century.

    Our living room/dining room/ kitchen is technically one large space but with the bookcase dividers between living room and kitchen/dining room as well as the header that connects the bookcases, the rooms feel like they are separate spaces, even though you can see from one to the other.

    Of course nothing else flows off that public space except a hallway leading to DH's office and the friend's entry and then on the opposite end another hallway leading to the master bedroom suite.

    I think a lot of people looking for bigger houses feel that theirs is small only because it lacks defined and quiet places—or, conversely, that the spaces they have are too restrictive, either by use of design.

    Agree.


    Colleen Bear thanked cpartist
  • KD
    3 years ago

    This reminds me of one thing that seems to come up a lot as dilemmas here - people get fixed on the purpose stated on the floor plan and try to figure out how to have a whatever (often a dining room) when they really won’t use one. It’s a room! Usually well-placed relative to the rest of the living space in the house. Use it for whatever extra living space you need. Want a second living space? Playroom for the kids? Crafting corner? There are no floor plan police who will come into your finished home and give you a ticket if your ‘dining room’ is used for something else.

    Colleen Bear thanked KD
  • ILoveRed
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Pirate...you have a point. But my dining room in my last house was truly not designed to serve as anything but a dining room. It would have just looked silly. I could have put a grand piano in it and called it a music room and it would have still looked like a dining room with a piano in it.

    if you don't want a dining room and you are starting new..why put it in your plan?

    eta...ps love your picture!

    Colleen Bear thanked ILoveRed
  • KD
    3 years ago

    I’d put the room on a plan but try to include features that make it easier to repurpose, like pocket doors or French doors so it can be truly closed off. That way you have the most flexibility if your needs change, and also if you sell, the room can be staged as a dining room or not depending on the current market, since neighborhood demographics do shift over time.

    What baffles me most is the huge high end homes where literally the only place to eat is a massive stone topped island on stools, all in a row like you’re in a diner. How is that comfortable or a good long term plan? At least plan a space to PUT a decent table.

    Colleen Bear thanked KD
  • Pinebaron
    3 years ago

    Having had formal dining and living rooms in all my previous builds (different parts of the globe including our previous home in NJ), I initially naturally designed our new home with a formal dining and living which is evident from my build thread; it was almost a year later after we physically moved to PNW we finally realized we rarely use those rooms and they consistently resembled show home rooms; we still have virtually brand new furniture for both rooms, currently packed in our rentals. In any case, we eliminated both rooms in my final design and we won't miss them at all.

    Colleen Bear thanked Pinebaron
  • lookintomyeyes83
    3 years ago

    We only built one dining area - a formal dining room. We don't have a dining nook, or a island or peninsula, JUST the dining room.

    We love it.

    We invested in a nice dining set, and every night since moving into our home, the two of us (no kids, no pets!) sit down, and eat dinner together. Often with candles! Our space is beautiful, and why not enjoy it! It forces us to relax and not rush, to enjoy the meal, and each other.

    In-vehicle meals are only for road trips, or when you sleep in and are late for work!

  • suezbell
    3 years ago

    Consider only building one dining area -- perhaps an "L" shaped living dining great room, having the kitchen distinctly separate from the living area but flowing as one room with the dining room. An elongated narrow kitchen (with mud room at opposite end from dining room) built parallel to the living room could be separated from the living room with a solid wall ... but an island bar or open cabinet could be all that separates the kitchen from the dining room.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/251638697907946889/

  • tira_misu
    3 years ago

    Same here. We only had room for one eating area and chose a formal dining room. I love dining rooms for hosting dinner parties so a dining room was a must.

    We now have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in there everyday with our 3 young children and really enjoy it. I don't like looking at a dirty kitchen while eating.

  • andria564
    3 years ago

    I think there is some gray area. When I say I don't want a dining room what I mean is I don't want a dedicated space away from the kitchen to eat. Right now I have a 4 person island seating area in the kitchen, 6 person kitchen table and 8 person dining room table. I would much rather have had the eat in kitchen expanded to fit a 8-10 person table and not had the separate dining space. Like this picture.

    Kitchen · More Info

  • ILoveRed
    3 years ago

    Andria...my space is somewhat similar to that except I am only putting 2 seats at my island. And my table will seat many more. I'm trying to encourage use of the table vs the island for meals.

    i really wanted no island seating but my grown daughters talked my into two.

  • cpartist
    3 years ago

    DH and I will eat breakfast/lunch/snacks at the island but for dinner at home, we set out the placemats and eat at the dining room table. However, like the photo above, the dining room is part of the kitchen.

  • gthigpen
    3 years ago

    Andria - Ours is like your pic. One dining space adjoining the kitchen with island seating. Our table is expandable so it's 60" long for everyday, but can expand to 96" for large gatherings. Our old house had a formal dining room that was really only used for Thanksgiving and for my kids to do large school projects. I didn't want the expense to build that extra square footage and to heat/cool the space. If we used it a bunch, I would have designed a formal dining room in our new house. But for us, it didn't make sense. We also did away with the formal living room. Another room that was pretty to look at, but didn't get used much.

  • ILoveRed
    3 years ago

    Nope...no formal living room here either. My last house had a formal living room we never used. My dd now has all of the furniture from that room and the custom drapery that we had re-done to work in her windows.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    3 years ago

    I don't think I have seen a discussion take so many tangents and still stay on track.

    You should always dress for dinner.

    But not a hat.

  • narnia75
    last year

    I whole-heartedly agree!! Our formal dining room was gathering dust in the dark north side of the house, only used as a traffic-path to the front stairs. It was a very depressing room that was closed off on all sides.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    last year

    Have considered a urinal for one of your bathrooms?


    It's a joke...based on another silly thread!

  • suezbell
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Depends upon your interior load bearing walls or whether or not you can add to a room and increase the footprint of your home.

    In my view, you do not need a "formal" dining room, but if you entertain at all -- even just family or special occasions, it's a good idea to have a very specific dining space that accommodates the size crowd you have -- even if it means seating children at a bar or adjacent drop leaf table -- rather than having only a "dining nook" in and part of either the kitchen or the living room.

    I like the idea of an "L" shaped great room so the living room guests cannot see the kitchen at work but those guests moving into the dining room and near the dividing cabinet/bar would be able to socialize -- without actually being in the kitchen in the way or getting a close up view of dirty pots and pans or dishes ... because

    There would be a room dividing cabinet/bar w/overhead cabinets with class doors on both sides. That overhead cabinet with glass doors would hold glass items -- mostly clear drinking glasses but perhaps a cut glass pitcher and/or some colored glass candy dishes and/or candle holders w/candles -- something both useful and decorative.

    All the kitchen cabinets would have doors solid so you'd not have a constant struggle to keep all cabinets neat enough for displaying what's behind them. A guest powder room could be accessible from a mud room -- with pretty much wall to wall, floor to ceiling cabinets, including a closet for washer and dryer. The mudroom could b e adjacent to the kitchen accessible via a door beside that room dividing cabinet and also lead to a sun room or a porch or a deck or a patio so the entertaining can be indoor/outdoor..

  • Robbin Capers
    last year

    I can't imagine wanting to sequester the dining room off by itself (and probably never use it), but we did put the dining table in the part of the great room with two-story ceilings (where you often see people place the sofa, which seems strange to me), and big windows out to the greenhouse, as I did want to give it a little drama. Our design gives the choice spots to the kitchen and dining areas because that's where we are most often, whether we're entertaining or not.

  • Kathi Steele
    last year

    There is no need for a dining room to be a traffic pattern or a room to gather dust. Make it multi functional. Those is New York and in the south have created library/dining rooms to make them multifunctional. You can have a office/dining room and have a desk that closes when you use it for dining. All it takes is some creativity to make a space functional!!! Google has great images of a library/dining room.

  • narnia75
    last year

    Exactly! So, we removed that wall and are turning that into the kitchen and will use the old kitchen as the open casual dining!

  • Hannah Wolfson
    last year

    I like a separate dining room. It doesn't need to be formal, but we have looked at a lot of houses that either only had an eat-in kitchen or room for a table in a great room and that was a no-go for us. We are currently living in a 1920s bungalow that has only a central, large dining room for eating space, and we have really liked it -- it ends up being our homework place, breakfast place, dinner place, dinner party place. We are remodeling a 1970s contemporary to move into and it has a very small breakfast nook off the kitchen and a medium-sized dining room; we're taking down the wall between the kitchen and DR, shrinking the DR slightly to add in counter seating. But I definitely wanted to keep some room for a dining table as well. So we'll have three dining options in the new house! But that suits our lifestyle (breakfast nook for kids to do crafts or to sit and chill with a coffee and cookbook; counter seating for cocktails or casual entertaining or for feeding children dinner; dining table for family dinners and dinner parties). The tl;dr is: it's your house, do what you like!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    last year

    "...What do you think? Does a house need a formal dinning room?..."


    Well, no...few, if any houses have a dinning room as far as I know.


    A dining room, on the other hand, is another matter...


    I know, I know...it's an old thread, but I like proper spelling.

  • suzyq53
    last year

    We don't even use our breakfast nook.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    How many formal dining rooms need a house?

  • narnia75
    last year

    LOL...Virgil Carter, I never noticed the misspelling. :-)