October 3, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

The Dining Room Renaissance

Homeowners are increasingly seeking a separate space dedicated to the art of dining, knowing there’s something special about a more formal meal


Unlike other rooms in the home, the dining room has been in and out of vogue as our lifestyles have changed. While the kitchen continues to be the hub of the home for many families—a space not just to eat, but to socialize and even work—the formal dining room is enjoying something of a renaissance.

For interior designer Charles Spada, a dining room should offer residents and guests a place to get away from the often-chaotic kitchen. Banner image: Designer Stéphanie Coutas transformed this table with visually intriguing glasses, elegant silverware, and colorful plates. Photograph: Francis AmiandA place of respite
Interior designer Charles Spada of Charles Spada Interiors has an idea why. “Dining rooms offer a respite from the fast lane, the hectic business of the day, a place beyond the mess of the kitchen, the banging and clatter of pots and pans. It's a room dedicated to the art of dining, where one can sit comfortably with family and friends, or simply by oneself, in one’s pajamas or shirt and tie,” he says. “It’s awfully pleasant—and away from the hum of the dishwasher.”

After a period of increasingly informal dining, we’ve seen dining in a designated room come back in fashion

T.D. Smith of Telluride Real Estate, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Colorado, agrees. “Families tend to move at a very hectic pace in this digital era, and the dining room seems to be a place of respite and to catch up at the end of the day.”

Tall windows and natural light can help to create a sense of warmth and serenity in a dining room, as proven by this design by Charles Spada.Indeed, dining is the perfect way for many families to spend time together. A 2016 study by a Texas-based consumer insights company found that three in five families say meals are the only time when they can really talk to each other.

Families tend to move at a very hectic pace in this digital era, and the dining room seems to be a place of respite

Residents of Sunset Ridge in Telluride, Colorado, will have plenty of time to talk to one another over dinner in the home’s spacious dining room. With spectacular views, the room’s three-sided glass fireplace provides a hint of the entertaining space beyond. The room is lit by globe chandeliers, which, says Smith, “sparkle as if you are dining under the stars.”

The design of the dining room at Sunset Ridge—offering views of the Telluride mountains and opening onto a spacious terrace—is perfectly in keeping with the property’s bold, linear architecture.  Photograph: Telluride Real EstateIn California, 1231 Lago Vista Drive, which is being marketed by Hilton & Hyland, Christie’s International Real Estate’s exclusive affiliate in Beverly Hills, offers equally luxurious dining options, this time in a dedicated "zone" rather than a separate room. The area is spacious enough for eight or more seated diners, and is softly lit by drop pendants. The home also features seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and a 600-bottle floating, backlit wine cellar, accessed via thumbprint recognition.

Having a dedicated dining space doesn’t necessarily mean having a separate room. At 1231 Lago Vista Drive in Beverly Hills, the dining area merges with the sitting room, where glass doors open out onto a sun terrace. Photograph: Hilton & HylandBack in fashion
Interior designers are increasingly receiving requests for dedicated dining rooms or spaces, something Ed Godrich, creative director and co-founder of Britain’s Godrich Interiors, believes is a sign of a return to a more formal way of dining. “In the 1980s, dining as an ‘experience’ became a popular concept. Many of our clients grew up during this time, and after a period of increasingly informal dining, we’ve seen a kickback to their childhood, which has seen dining in a designated room back in fashion.”

This dining room, in a newly constructed family house in Wimbledon, London, was designed by Godrich Interiors with a focus on symmetry. The bespoke chandeliers were crafted from around 80 antique glass shades, and although designers used a mix of chairs around the table, they are paired.Smith agrees. “A degree of separation lends itself to congregating to share fine cuisine, fine wine, and good conversation with family and friends.” That said, he believes more informal dining still reigns when talking about vacation homes.

Where everyone can gather
When planning your dining room, what should you consider, and what should you avoid? “For me, a dining room should always have a fireplace, tall windows, and a view,” Spada says. Paris-based interior designer Stéphanie Coutas, meanwhile, suggests that the room should be “a wonderful space that allows everyone to gather around the dining table with ease.”

Parisian designer Stéphanie Coutas has mixed clean lines, varied textures, and bursts of color for this dining room in a Cannes penthouse. Photograph: Francis AmiandCoutas counsels that chairs must be comfortable, with enough space between guests. Lighting should be dim but well positioned—consider not just a chandelier, but lamps and uplighters.

A degree of separation lends itself to congregating to share fine cuisine, fine wine, and good conversation

“Beautiful glasses, silverware, colorful plates, and candleholders will be of the utmost importance, too. I also like to incorporate crystal rocks on a colored tablecloth or, alternatively, fresh flower petals positioned randomly.”

Find your centerpiece
Of course, every dining room needs a centerpiece—the dining table. “The table can be of any shape, but it is vital to make sure each guest isn’t seated too far away from the person opposite them,” Coutas says.

The extendable Chilworth dining table by English designer Ali Robinson features hexagonal or forked legs topped by an ellipse in smoked eucalyptus or sycamore wood. English designer Ali Robinson recently unveiled his Kynance and Chilworth tables. “An elegant formal dining table is hard to find,” notes the designer, “so I set myself the challenge of designing something that would add beauty to a room yet remain completely functional.”

I think it is becoming fashionable again to make a special thing about entertaining friends at home

The form for the tables was inspired by Finn Juhl’s Judas design, from 1948. Kynance is fixed, while Chilworth is extendable and can seat between eight and 14. “I think it is becoming fashionable again to make a special thing about entertaining friends at home,” says Robinson. “Rather than going out to a restaurant or just having supper in the kitchen, our clients seem to be making a show of inviting guests home and formally entertaining.”   

This Tarcisio Colzani-designed table, with a tempered glass top, is large enough for family get-togethers without being bulky. And the Canaletta walnut wood can be stained darker if required. Alberto Battaglia of furniture design company Porada UK agrees with Robinson that we are “cooking much more than before. Essentially, a dedicated dining room is practical. We need places to find comfort and calm.”

Five must-haves for a gourmet dinner party


  • Interiors & Design

Steven Short
is Editor of Christie's International Real Estate magazine