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Dining in the Dining Room

Martha Scott
January 10, 2019

I enjoyed have dinner in the dining room in December when our casual eating space was filled with out lighted ceramic village. Since it came down, we've been dining in the dining room at night and it feels so much more special than dining in our casual space at night. I don't do a tablecloth but rather lace placemats and use our Spode instead of our "breakfast room" dishes. It makes dinner more special!

Comments (39)
  • lobby68

    I took our casual dining space out of the kitchen a couple years ago and replaced it with a love seat. It all worked when my kids were small, but the space wasn't large and then my daughter became 5'8" and my son 6'2" and that was certainly a design issue I never contemplated! Now both kids are away and my spouse and I eat dinner in the dining room when we make dinner. Since we are empty nesters I'm not coping to how frequently we cook now, lol. But it is REALLY nice to eat in there. I use our nicer dishes, keep linens out (I have a thing about using linen napkins only) and always have a no cell phone at the table rule. Even for grown ups (actually I think we are worse than the kids).

  • Kathsgrdn

    I wanted a dining room when I was looking for a house to buy. My table is in a dining space in the kitchen. Now I'm glad I don't have one...one less room to clean. I basically only use 3 rooms in my house right now. My bedroom, one of the baths and the kitchen. Only time I use the dining space is when someone comes to my house. Otherwise I eat in my room at my computer desk.

  • Lars

    We almost always eat in the dining room, but then we do not have a casual dining area, as the kitchen is not set up that way. When we lived in Venice and had a smaller dining area, I did keep a tablecloth on the table, but the table was only 36" diameter and glass. Now I have a nice vintage walnut dining table, and so I use placements generally instead of a tablecloth, unless we have company, which is sadly rather rare these days. In any event, I pretty much always plate the food in the kitchen, but I allow others to serve themselves seconds in the kitchen, if they want them. I'm used to having servants do the serving, and so family style meals are not the norm for me.

  • Moxie

    I ate in the dining room even when I was single. One house had a kitchen table, which I hated. It was a junk magnet! My current house is the last stop before the nursing home, so I had the kitchen built to suit me. It's nice to have people in the kitchen when I cook, but I don't want to eat there!

  • amylou321

    We dont have a dining room. I bought a breakfast nook setup for the kitchen, which we used to eat at when we first got it. But slowly but surely, my beautiful nook and kitchen table became a catch all for a bunch of tools and whatever else SO needed to set down somewhere. So we usually eat in the living room in front of the TV. If we are both home, I will usually eat in the bedroom and leave him in the living room, because he and i can never agree on something to watch. I would prefer to eat at the table, but I am sick of clearing all the stuff of every week, so living room it is.....

  • Iris S (SC, Zone 7b)

    I also don’t have a dining room. Just the open kind of family room divided from the kitchen by the breakfast bar/ kitchen counter. This is perfectly fine with me, easy to talk to everyone while finishing up the dinner.

  • functionthenlook

    Our kitchen had a space for a table, but we didn't a table so we put in more cabinets and an island. When it is just my husband and I we eat dinner in the living room watching the news. We use a dining room for when it is more than just us. Why have a nice dining room and not use it.

  • justerrilynn

    We have only eaten in our dining room once. If we are not eating at the large kitchen island we are eating on the under-roof patio. When people stay with us they are normally coming from cold regions and want to be outside. I have two dining tables that can be joined for large groups out there. It’s nice with the pool and fairy lights on.

  • mtnrdredux_gw

    With 5 of us, we have always had dinner in the DR, and breakfast and lunch usually in the breakfast room that adjoins the kitchen. Our kitchen is quite large, but has 2 islands and no seating.

    Now that we are often only 3, the DR feels funny.

  • Fun2BHere

    In a former house, I only had the dining room. Like Lobby68, the breakfast nook contained a loveseat and coffee table where we read and watched the news. In my current house, we tend to use the breakfast room for all meals unless we have guests, then we use the dining room. No reason why we couldn't use the dining room for the two of us. Maybe we will give that a try just to see how we like it.

  • LynnNM

    I grew up eating dinner every evening in our family dining room (2 parents, 9 kids and, many times, a few of our friends), as well as weekend breakfasts there. So did my DH. With that feeling like the norm, we raised our children that way, as well. We enjoyed all those years and have wonderful memories of the closeness it brought our family, together around our table talking with each other. No cell phones allowed. These days, though, our son is married and lives out of state, and our daughter is in grad school out of state, as well. But, DH and I still enjoy our special meal time together and continue to eat dinner here in our dining room Sunday through Thursday evenings. Friday nights we have pizza and movies in our family room. Saturday evenings we either dine out or eat while we watch a DVD movie or two. And, we still have our weekend breakfasts together in our dining room, too. It may seem funny to some, as our dining room table is 9 1/2 feet long, but we keep our chairs right next to each other. It works for us . . . and this coming Tuesday, January 15th, we’ll be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary. This is how I set the table for just the two of us. For us, it’s romantic to eat together like this. When our kids are here with us, it’s just plain wonderful!

    Martha Scott thanked LynnNM
  • Raye Smith

    I've always eaten in the dining room and in every house I've lived in the dining room was a true separate room. I've been in older houses that had a morning room for eating breakfast and like that idea.

    I don't understand eating in the kitchen and I don't want guests in the kitchen either. I can't cook a meal and keep the kitchen perfectly spotlessly clean at the same time.

    Martha Scott thanked Raye Smith
  • PRO

    I grew up eating in the kitchen except for Sun dinner, when we ate in the DR. I hated it - it was very cramped and tight.

    My fist husband’s family always ate dinner in the DR. Our 1st apt had no such thing - just a tiny kitchen and a round table at the end of the small LR. Our first house had a nice DR, but we had no furniture for it and no money to buy any. I ended up buying a 90” round caterer’s table when they had a sale - $15. Then I bought moire taffeta at Steinmart -$3 @ yd - took 11 yrs. I made a full length table skirt, corded at the bottom. I nearly suffocated sewing it! When we entertained, I used placemats on top until my mother bought me a linen damask square cloth to use as a topper. We did not eat in there everyday as I was afraid of spills and stains on that moire cloth.

    Then I got divorced. Somehow my mother got it in her head that no man would ever marry me without my having a proper DR table. So she was on a mission to find one for me. She did at a local antique/vintage shop. It was a classic mahogany double pedestal Duncan Fife table - probably from the 20’s or 30’s. They bought it for me, and now that my children were 4 & 6, we started eating breakfast and dinner in the DR. I used an old walnut Victorian 3 drawer chest as a “sideboard”. She had already found 6 chairs for me - pretty Queen Anne but glue dried out and very rickety. I left them in Maine when we left the school there.

    Someone did marry me an I think my mother truly believed that that DR had done the trick, but now I needed a proper sideboard. One day as she was leaving to go to the hairdresser, she noticed all the furniture in her neighbor’s house being out out on the lawn. The woman had been in a nursing home for years, the house unoccupied. It was an auction. So Mother went back inside, got my father and told him to go to the auction, and if he could by the mahogany sideboard she had spotted, for $200 or less, to buy it for me. No one bid on it, and my father bought it for $60!

    We ate breakfast and dinner in the DR’s of 3 houses with this furniture until the last child left home. It was a long table and it became a bit ridiculous when passing the salt, so we moved our meals to the breakfast room.

    It was perfect for dinner for two! I usually eat in front of tge TV - it’s just too lonely to sit alone at that table. Too bad as it’s a very pretty room, and my everyday Tranquebar goes so well in it.

    Martha Scott thanked Anglophilia
  • sableincal

    Anglophilia - What a charming room, perfect in every detail! I especially like the very handsome bookshelves.

    Martha Scott thanked sableincal
  • dragonflywings42

    Anglo - I too love your dining room. Your taste, as always, is impeccable.

    We have a smaller home, so space is at a premium. We had a dining room set up for many years, but we rarely ate there except for special occasions. I loved the light that came in through the french doors, so we finally turned that room into a reading space that we use every day. As magnaverde said: "Decorate for the life you live ... " This is especially important in a small house, I think.

    Martha Scott thanked dragonflywings42
  • lisaw2015 (ME)

    LynnNM - what a gorgeous home you have!

    Martha Scott thanked lisaw2015 (ME)
  • functionthenlook

    I've never had a new dining room table either. My first table was from an older lady. Beautiful mahogany with large balled legs that you could of parked a mack truck on. When we moved I gave it to my daughter. I now use a cherry table that was my mothers and in my last house sat closed up in the living room. It is not your usual dining table. I never knew what to call it. I call it the weird table. It is 10 foot when all the way open .

  • jakabedy

    I've only ever had one house with a formal dining room and separate breakfast area, and that was my first house, a 1929 bungalow of a mere 1,200 square feet. I never sat in the dining room. Once I married, we devolved to TV trays in the living room. In the current home, I purposefully looked for an open plan where the TV could be seen from the dining room, and started a new tradition of NO EATING IN THE LIVING ROOM BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE THE TV FROM THE TABLE. Seemed to work. Well, maybe not, since I'm divorced now. Hmmm. In any event, I do sit at my table for meals now. I enjoy it.

  • msmeow

    My dining room has a 10 ft long quilting frame in it. :)


  • lakeaffect

    No dining room for us either, just an EIK, with plenty of room to seat 12 or so comfortably. We worked with an architect to design our open floor plan home, and specifically didn't want a DR, we eschew formal, and didn't want an unused room in the house, so didn't include a DR. We eat in the kitchen during the cold months, and on our screened in porch during the summer, and it works for us.

  • Joaniepoanie

    Looking back, I regret not using the dining room every day, at least for dinner. We had a cramped space in the kitchen for the five of us which.....how dumb not to use the "formal" dining room for us instead of just for company or holidays.

    Martha Scott thanked Joaniepoanie
  • DawnInCal

    Our house doesn't have a dining room. The kitchen/living room area is all one big room like a great room. In a corner next to the sliding glass doors in the kitchen side there is a pub table with four stools. We use that when we have company. Otherwise, we use either the bar that is part of the kitchen island or we eat in the office/computer room where we chat and surf the net at the same time while we eat. Life is generally pretty casual at our house. :-)

  • sas95

    We have breakfast (and lunch, if we are home) at the kitchen island, but always dinner in the dining room. It's just the two of us, but we like it that way. Our dining room is nice (IMO), but I don't consider it "formal." But it is a separate room, and we can sit and eat without looking at the dirty pots and pans.

  • suero

    We have breakfast and lunch in the kitchen, supper in the family room, and dinner by candlelight in the dining room.

  • ldstarr

    We have a dining room and a peninsula with stools in the kitchen. DH eats breakfast at the peninsula and I have my lunch there. 99% of the time we have dinner in the dining room. The other 1% is eaten at the peninsula. Food, other that an occasional evening dessert, does not come into our living room.

  • artemis_ma

    I have a large kitchen, with a peninsula overlooking the dining area, and beyond that, some really nice eastern and south-eastern outdoor visuals.

    I decided that I'd only have ONE indoor eating area. My kitchen is for cooking, and yes, I do host pot luck parties here, and parties where people have enough space to do final prep within my kitchen. I enjoy this. I don't mind sharing cooking space with my friends who are foodies. I don't need to EAT in the kitchen proper, and nor do they. Three or five steps, max, out to the dining table.

    Yes, the dining area, which could potentially be called a "room" maybe or not, is where I or we eat.

    I do have outdoor eating locales, on the back deck, but atm it is 13 F degrees there, so me and any guests (which I will indeed have this weekend) will be eating indoors.

  • Bonnie

    We spend most of our time dining at the famhouse table in our eat-in kitchen. This has always been our weeknight dining spot and now that we are retired it is easy living around here. Although I just might clear the last of the Christmas decor off the dining room table, lug it to the basement storage and set a nice table for dinner tonight.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Martha.

  • Fori

    My dining room has somehow morphed into a music room. At some point I'll have to exchange my vintage Duncan Phyfe dining set for a baby grand piano. But that table sure comes in handy for making Halloween costumes or playing games or even...formal dinners.

  • Bunny

    My LR, kitchen, dining area are an open L-shape, with the dining area being in the corner, bordered by my kitchen peninsula and a half wall on the LR side. I call it a dining room, but I really think of it as part of my kitchen. It also serves as a desk and reading area. I love kitchens. I wish I had an eat-in kitchen. I like being around stoves and smells and potholders. Growing up we had a formal dining room and an eat-in kitchen. We only ate in the DR when there was company or more than 4 people. It was okay, but it felt too formal for me. I prefer informal.

  • l pinkmountain

    I grew up eating in an "eat in" kitchen. I miss having a big kitchen. But most of my homes have had small kitchens. The home I have now has a dining area open to the kitchen one one side, and on the other side of the table it is open to the family room. We eat lunch there sometimes, but it is more of a work table than eating table for us. My folks ate there all the time when they lived in the home though. On the other side of the kitchen is a formal dining room. They used the dining room table as a workspace when not in use for a fancy dinner. We switched. I find I love eating in the formal dining room. It's a pleasure to have the luxury of a room just devoted to dining. I also often take a coffee break in there in the afternoons too. I have come to enjoy the luxury of fine dining on a regular basis. In fact, dinners at my home make eating out feel cheap and cheesy at most modern restaurants.

  • chessey35

    In the winter we eat in the dining room. The rest of the year we eat in the sun room. I don't like eating at the counter in the kitchen. The stools are not the best, (left in the house when we moved in) and there's too much else going on the think about replacing them. If I get ambitious, I might paint them tho - then have to decide on a color, so probably won't happen for a while.

  • matthias_lang

    This little house was built for turn of the century (20th) factory workers. The kitchen is too small for a table. We call one room the dining room and eat every meal there, yet it really is a multi-function room. In those olden days it was a bedroom, as were all the rooms except the tiniest little parlor at the front door.

  • PRO

    dragonfly wings, the picture is my BREAKFAST room, not my DR! People confuse them all the time. It is much smaller than my small DR.

    When we bought this house over 34 years ago, the room we now call the Breakfast room, was a very small bedroom. The door opening was closer to the door into the kitchen in the back hall.

    We moved the door over, turned it into a larger opening, and installed pocket doors. We then had bookcases built and used it as a small TV room. The corner cabinet I now use to store my many dishes, was built for the 1985 huge, deep TV and all the other stuff - stereo, tape deck etc. We had a small loveseat on one wall, and a nice leather club chair on another. There was also an antique corner chair in there. With just my husband and young teen daughter living there full time, it was fine; when very large DS was home from boarding school, it was very cramped.

    Then in 1993, my mother died. I inherited all her furniture (only child), and it included a small Duncan Phyfe table and chairs, and a small china cabinet. By then, DS had graduated from college and was working/living in Washington DC, so he did not need his old BR. The guest room, used by my mother when she came for holidays, now no longer was used. So we took over DS's bedroom, which had been designed as a 1st flr MBR with ensuite bath. We had some ready-made bookcases in it, moved in the furniture and a 2nd leather club chair and a couple of ottomans. It was now our TV room, the the small room became the breakfast room, using Mother's furniture.

    Over the years, the TV room/library, evolved as we could afford to make changes. The final change was to remove the two closets (made the room longer by 2 ft), and to change the opening of the ensuite bath to a hall between this room and the entrance hall, by removing the bath tub. We had another full bath on this floor with a tub/shower. So, the ensuite became a powder room, and there was now a hall between the library and the entrance hall. We also had bookcases custom built for the room (we've spent a fortune building bookcases in this house and we still don't have enough!). Now the room no longer looked like a BR pretending it was a library.

    Nearly 3 years ago, I was browsing in a small local antique shop and saw the round table pictures in my breakfast room. I had been looking for a new table as the Duncan Phyfe one from my mother was tippy if one leaned on an end, even just slightly. It was also a bit too long for this small room. And what should catch my eye, but this round table! I immediately measured it, put it on hold, and came home and measured and figured out it was perfect for this room. I had already changed out the chairs - my mother had 2 of those old carved rose on the back chairs, with the seats done in one of those needlepoints one could buy in dept stores - the flower already being done and only requiring the background to be done. They were pretty but a bit too "quaint" for my house.

    When DH's mother died, he rescued the chairs I have from the attic. They were in terrible condition but clearly were lovely, heavy chairs. So, off they went to be repaired and refinished (they were that bad), and I found some wool mohair fabric at a discount place for $15 a yd! A steal as mohair starts at $100 a yr, wholesale! I had railheads added. LOVE these chairs!

    One never noticed the chairs with the old table, but once the round table came in, people immediately commented on the chairs, too. The antique shop said they believed the table was an Irish piece as the Queen Anne legs had carving on the tops. He said the English never did this, only the Irish.

    Whatever the country of origin, I adore this table, It's very versatile as the legs swing in and it can be used with both leaves dropped, as a console or hall table, or one leg can be up.

    I love the rug in this room. When my uncle was a young Cavalry officer, he was stationed in the Canal Zone (probably in the early teens of the 20th century). He bought this rug and two matching throw rugs (which are in the hall outside this room). They are Chinese, handmade wood rugs, but they were made specifically for sale in the Canal Zone.

    When we inherited them when he died, I called oriental rug dealers in St Louis - no one had ever seen any like these. The colors were traditional, but not the design. Then I remarried and my husband's parent came to St Louis for the wedding, bringing their live-in cook/housekeeper with them. Ruth was to babysit for my children during the Rehearsal Dinner, but attend the wedding the next day. Ruth was a black woman who had grown up in the Canal Zone. She walked into my living room and gasped, saying she had not seen rugs like this since she was a little girl in the Canal Zone - they were only in the "finest" homes there. So, now we knew a bit more. A dealer in LA added the final piece of the puzzle when he said they were made in China just for sale there, to appeal to the taste of US Army Officer's wives, who would buy them and take them back to the US. Well, my uncle was a bachelor so they appealed to him, too!

    It's one of my favorite rooms in my house. It's only a few feet from the kitchen, so eating in there is very convenient and easy. If my DH were still with me, we'd eat there every night. Eating there by myself, just makes me too lonely for him, so I rarely do. Sometimes on a weekend, I'll have breakfast in there - pancakes/french toast/waffles - you know, not a regular weekday breakfast.

  • l pinkmountain

    Ang your story just goes to show that if you stick with the classics, they can be endlessly re-invented in various ways to make for a flexible and fun-ctional decor.

  • cyn427

    Lynn, happy anniversary!

  • LynnNM

    Thank you, Cyn!

  • sistersunnie

    No dining room but a space open off the kitchen. No fancy furniture but some great stories go with all of the furniture, a table that my grandfather used in his general store, tons of meal eaten and card games carried out around, Side cabinet from an old friend and many many bowls stored in with memories to spare. ITs my favorite space and where everyone gravitates. When weather permits, we eat on screened porch.

  • alex9179

    Before a natural disaster required a drawn-out renovation, the 5 of us always ate dinner in the dining room. Any other meal where we were all home was in the dining room, as well. It was the only table with enough chairs for all of us once we got rid of the high chair. Kids would eat breakfast and lunch at the 4-person kitchen table.

    With the new layout, I deleted the kitchen table (it didn't survive, anyway) and we'll eat all of our meals in the dining room or on the deck that is right off the kitchen. I bought a great dining set on CL, recently. The table extends so it will be appropriate for just the two of us when the kids are gone, or up to 8-10 people.

    We're all looking forward to dining together, again. Next week! In the rental, usually the 3 kids eat at a small table and DH and I sit on the floor at the coffee table. Sometimes we all squeeze around the coffee table, but it's awkward for the two shorter ones.

    Sistersunnie, I LOVE your table and cabinet. I envy your screen porch, too.

  • terilyn

    I turned the formal dining room into a library, my breakfast room table seats 10 and my kitchen island can seat the same. Didn't need the dining room.

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