Is the Formal Dining Room Dead?

published Jan 26, 2015
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(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

My kids call our dining room the “Thanksgiving Room.” My husband says that we should put caution tape at its entrance because I don’t let anyone in there. And I guess that tells you what you need to know about how often we use our formal dining room! I love our dining room and I’m glad we have it, but truthfully, it’s mostly a showpiece, and I think I’m an exception among a generation that has mostly said goodbye to the formal dining room.

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If you saw any of my posts in the Apartment Therapy Contributor Style series, you might remember that I’m fortunate enough to own some lovely family heirlooms that are the basis for much of our decor. The coffee table in the living room, the dresser in our master bedroom, even a chest of drawers in our master bath are showstoppers from another era and beloved to me because of whose they were.

(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

My entire dining room is an inheritance, from the intricate and once-plush velvet chairs to the custom-made table of mahogany and ebony. I even have the blueprint of the table — how awesome is that?? The head and foot chairs are not only part of my grandparents’ set, but were the chairs used by the bride and groom at the wedding of some of our dearest friends. The china and silver that fill the absolutely gorgeous credenza (my most favorite piece of furniture) are also passed down to me. I moved these treasures from California to Georgia to Florida and I enjoy them.

(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

But, honestly, if it weren’t for the sentimental value attached to these objects, which I do also find very beautiful, I wouldn’t have them. We have an expanding table in our kitchen, where we eat all our meals. Even when we have guests, we open up the table and eat there. It’s more comfortable, more informal, and much easier to clean. I don’t have to stress about water marks on the table or food spilling on antique upholstery. The same goes for dishware. My china is gorgeous but, again, I only have it because it was given to me.

(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

In the age of the open floor plan or, to speak HGTV, the “open-concept kitchen,” and a generational culture of dinner guests helping us chop rather than waiting to be served the first course, a nice but simplified and multi-purpose eating area and the dishware to go along with it seem to be the preference.

What’s your take?