Are Formal Dining Rooms A Thing Of The Past?

Our formal dining room is literally my favorite room in our house. As the room that connects our living room and kitchen it’s become more of the hub for the house than our closed off kitchen. I chose more casual decor than a traditional formal dining room with a trestle table, jute rug and a mix of upholstered and bistro chairs for a homey feel.

When we started talking about renovating, we decided early on that we wanted to take down the wall between the current kitchen and dining room to open up our closed off kitchen.

I asked around for input on an open floor plan “dining room” vs. a formal one. Quite a few people said that formal dining rooms aren’t a necessity anymore as long as there is an area for dining and entertaining. I didn’t find a lot of arguments for having a formal dining room. What do you think? Have you heard that too?

I was trying to think back to our house hunt and if the dining room was a room I even noticed in the houses we toured. So, I went to my Pinterest page to check out dining rooms that I’d pinned. This is always a great trick of mine when I’m making decisions on our house because I can look for common themes in my style and layout choices that may not be obvious to me from one month to the next. Turns out on my “Dining Room” board I might have had one formal dining room among a bunch of other casual open floor plan dining areas like this gorgeous set up below. Aside from the fact that I need to update that board name…I am feeling a bit more settled on our open floor plan with a dedicated “eating area” instead of a formal dining room.

Source: The Refined Group via Houzz Source: The Refined Group via Houzz

Rounding up a few of my favorite open floor plan “dining areas” tricks and styling tips so it still feels like a dining room vs. an eat-in kitchen.

Don’t Skimp On The Table Size

One of the main things that makes a dining area feel like a dining room in an open floor plan is the size of the table. If you want the space to look like a dining room look for the biggest table the space can handle. Standard guidelines for spacing around a dining table is 36-48 inches (3 ft-4ft) from a wall or other furniture. A few tricks if your space isn’t very large is to pick a table with drop leaves or leaf inserts that can be tucked away during everyday use or become bigger when have people over.  I love the drop leaf look of this kitchen island as great inspiration for a long drop leaf dining table and how it could work in a space.

source: Apartment Therapy source: Apartment Therapy

When decorating our dining room about a year ago now, I picked the Archer Table from ZGallerie. It’s a 78” x 39” table that can extend to 110” with the leaves inserted. We have yet to extend the table because it is plenty big as is, but we have loved it so far. The finish is extremely durable and I love the trestle table style.

Place Statement Lighting Over The Table

Statement ceiling lighting is one of the easiest ways to make an open floor plan have a distinguished eating area. Using a typical light that would go over a table in a dining room whether a chandelier or a pendant instantly makes the space feel like a dining room. I love the look from Monika Hibb’s dining room which uses two of the Thea Globe Pendant that we also used in our dining room. A few more of my favorite chandeliers and pendants for over your dining table below.

Source: Monika Hibbs Source: Monika Hibbs

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Use Chairs vs. Benches For A More Formal Look

One of the ways that an open floor plan dining room can feel more formal is to keep the seating arrangement to chairs rather than a bench. As much as I am loving banquettes right now this is a rule I’m trying to remind myself of as I think about our future dining space. The chairs instantly give the area a more formal and structured feel and also allow the space to be more versatile. Mixing and matching side chairs with larger armchairs is another way to make the setup feel like a dining room but fit with an open floor plan near a living or family room. I love the look of this dining room set up from JS Home with those large upholstered armchairs and hope we have the space for a pair in our future dining area. Our current upholstered end chairs are on their last leg literally as they’ve taken the wrath of our hyper kitten Luc…

Source: JS Home Design via Pinterest Source: JS Home Design via Pinterest Source: Style At Home via Lark + Linen Source: Style At Home via Lark + Linen

What do you think? Are formal dining rooms here to stay?

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  • Oh my goodness, I am in LOVE with your dining room! I’ve heard great things about the Archer table in the past, and now I’m sold. I did want to ask where you got your beautiful dining room rug? Also, since I’m clearly now going to have to swing by my nearest ZGallerie for the same table (lol), what size rug did you choose? Yours fits wonderfully!

    • Thank you! That’s so sweet. I put a lot of time into putting the room together. We really love our Archer table for its functionality and look (plus it comes with leaves!). The dining room rug is from World Market. It’s a 8×10 linen bordered jute area rug. It has held up pretty well for the cost, but does have some snags or loops pulled after 1 year and a very active kitten.