There have been few design dilemmas that have perplexed me as much as designing a dining room. I just never seem to be happy with the design of our dining room for very long.
In our old house, we went from this dining room:
And then, in our new house, more of a farmhouse-style, rustic/industrial dining room:
Maybe dining rooms are hard to design because of the nature of the room itself: it’s a dining room, but we rarely use it for dining. We eat Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners there, as well as the occasional meal where we need more space than our breakfast room offers, but otherwise, it’s a really more like a giant hallway from the living room to the kitchen. Lately, it’s where the Risk game board stays during weeks-long competitions between the kids and their friends.
I grew up with a formal dining room. I mean, FORMAL with a capital “F.” Like silver that was polished and a traditional-style table with needlepoint cushions on the Queen Anne chairs.
But we just aren’t formal people. Even our holiday “formal” dinners are casual.
So I’m torn between the idea that a dining room is that, i.e., a formal space, and that a dining room could be a more casual room where you actually want to sit down a while and eat or work or play games.
We have a breakfast room off our kitchen, so that becomes the default eating/playing/working surface.
But I wonder – if I made the dining room more comfortable, more casual, less formal – whether we would use it as the default eating spot or, at least, use it more often (SPOILER ALERT: I later find out – here’s the post where I talk about using our dining room more as a result of a disaster!). Then I could turn the breakfast room into something else…although I have no idea what. Maybe more kitchen storage? A more casual eating area with an island for prep and stools for gathering – more of an extension of the kitchen?
In designing the dining room to be less formal and more comfortable, I’ve been thinking about:
- Changing the chairs from upholstered chairs to something less formal and more indestructible?
- Changing the rug from gray to something funky, like a light bright yellow?
- Selling the chunky, orangey-colored buffet for a more modern, stylish cabinet?
Spoiler alert: I ended up selling the buffet! Read about what happened next here.
What do you think? Do you use your dining room for dining or for more casual living? How would you design a dining room to use it more often?