By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
The formal dining room these days has taken a back seat in the floorplans of many new homes. We often see an informal eating area by the kitchen, opening to the family room. In today’s homes — especially smaller houses and city apartments — the formal dining room has often morphed into a library, with a sofa, a television and card-table-style dining.
And even in new homes that have formal dining rooms, I’ve sometimes encountered floorplans where the room isn’t even remotely near the kitchen. I’m not sure how practical that is.
Although homes may still be stocked with all the silver, crystal, table linen and china needed for formal entertaining, the question remains: Are these items seeing regular use? Often not, I suspect.
I can’t say I’m surprised at the trend, especially in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, when so many of us have curtailed hosting dinner parties.
In addition to meeting the demands to today’s lifestyles, eliminating a designated formal dining room offers a chance for homeowners to get bigger bangs for their decorating bucks. High-quality custom-made dining chairs — with well-made coil-spring seats and upholstered backs — aren’t inexpensive by any means, for instance. Is it any surprise homeowners don’t want to squander assets on rooms that will see little use?
The lesson is to follow your own particular needs when designing your next home or renovating your present one. If hosting formal dinner parties is your thing — once the pandemic is under control, of course — then make your dining room a showstopper.
But if it’s not, work with your designer or architect to come up with an alternative that really puts the spaces in your new residence to their best use.