When I was growing up, the Dining Room was a very special place, reserved for holiday meals, company and my parents parties. The table was made of dark wood, the chairs upholstered in beautiful velvet fabric and the tall china cabinet with the glass doors displayed very special dishes and silver serving pieces. The dining room was easily one of the biggest rooms in the house and probably the least used.
Many of our traditional house designs feature this same kind of room, formal and ready for a dinner party at a moments notice. I have even been to people’s homes where they set the table with the fine china and polished silver all of the time, just to showcase their fine table settings.
With this room, tucked away from the rest of the house, just waiting for a chance to shine, we are missing out on using some of the best space of the home. If you have a large table and chairs and no china cabinet, consider using tall bookshelves along the wall. China, silverware and serving accessories can be stored in woven baskets or decorative boxes on the lower shelves while photos and books can find a home on the higher shelves. Now you have the start of a more flexible space that can be the Library as well as the Dining Room. Adding arm chairs or upholstered chairs to the ends of the table give you a more comfortable place to sit and read, sip a cup of tea or just relax. Or perhaps you would like to set up a photo display in the center of the table when it is not in use. Place several boxes of different heights on the table and cover with a cloth, tucking the ends under for a finished look. Stand pictures in decorative frames on top and in front of the boxes, mixing in a few candlesticks or small plants to finish your display.
In our Windsor Model, we have eliminated the formal dining room and created a space for dining that is part of the Kitchen and Great Room. The Kitchen is completely open the the spacious table area which opens to the Great Room through a generous arched opening. We have held several open houses in the model and people were able to freely move about the space as well as engage in conversation with others in both rooms. On one wall, we created a focal point with a deep navy blue wall, anchored by a herb colored storage unit, which features plenty of space for dish and serving ware inside and an expansive top surface, this piece is truly versatile for not only storage but also as a serving area.
An informal Dining area that can be dressed up on special occasions or used for daily activities is a wonderful use of space that the whole family can enjoy.