Gone is the fusty formality of dining rooms made popular during the 1950s. Today’s dining room is a more light-filled, contemporary space that flows into an open-plan setting.
Its return is a response to the seclusion of lockdown-life that saw families and friends separated for months on end. In many homes, the dining room morphed into home learning HQ on weekdays and board game central on weekends.
“Family time has finally come back and people are wanting to spend time together and eat around the table,” interior designer Sarah Nolen says.
“Designing spaces that incorporate larger dining tables has been really common. We’re not designing anything under an eight-seater, even if it’s a family of three.
“So, people are planning ahead and now that restrictions have lifted, they are forward-thinking about people coming”
The dining room’s revival heralds a renewed focus on family dining, which many time-poor families ditched in favour of TV dinners.
“Dining rooms were obviously very in, but from the perspective of a busy lifestyle, people didn’t really sit down and have that dedicated eating zone,” she said.
“Now, sort of post-COVID, people are being more conscious of their homes and having dedicated spaces in their homes.”
Unlike the closed-off, windowless dining rooms of old, modern dining rooms are being integrated into airy, open spaces. The trick is to strike the right balance of connection to other rooms while styling with just the right amount of formality, says Keith Fuller, senior designer at Porter Davis.
“The dining room became something of a museum in the old days, which is why we convinced everyone that formal dinings were dead 10, 20 years ago,” he said.
“But if it’s designed in the middle-rear part of the house, it’s still somewhat more connected to the informal living and allows it to have a more formal feel. Not everyday kind of use, but certainly more elaborate than a meals space.”