Any room for a formal room?

I have found myself a quirky little coffee shop Duke Street Espresso Bar, a perfect spot to be writing. A casual cafe with dark grey walls, mismatched flea market find furniture, hanging bulbs and a net of fairy lights each creatively housed by a take-away coffee cup, as shown in the image below.

And it gets me thinking, the coffee helps, about dining spaces.

When meeting clients there is always two distinguished areas of which people like to consume their food, the ever so popular “casual kitchen table” and “the formal dining room” followed usually by, “but we don’t really eat there, only at Christmas”.

What does “formal dining room” really mean in a modern day home? And what may I ask is the point?

Unless you’re regularly entertaining Her Majesty, do we really need formal dining rooms?

I’ll be honest, I was bought up in a ‘TV dinner family’, and it wasn’t since moving in with my boyfriend a year ago, who incidentally was bought up in a ‘lets sit around the dining table and discuss our days family’, that I have come to appreciate and love eating at a dining table. So much so that my new ‘life’ project is collecting dining chairs!

Yes, I am one of those designers who thinks different dining chairs look great!

And such a perfect example. Not only can it save you money, some finds can easily be £5 or free! I am soon adding another to my collection from a friend’s parents chuck out. A patterned rug also works well in this look.

But it creates character and friction to a room and when you’re entertaining guests, people won’t be too hung up on who’s sitting with who, but who gets which chair!

Similarly if your blessed with a long dining space, which one day I hope to be, breaking up an extra long table with benches in the middle and chairs at either end creates divide and intimacy when occupied by a couple and when friends and family visit it becomes less like a formal occasion and reminds me more of a German beer fest!

Talking of tables, I do have a strange obsession with the idea of literally cutting a slice off a tree attaching some legs and hey presto. Crazy? I think not!

Look at this fab breakfast bar using just that concept. So much character oozes from the wood grains allowing it to be the center stage whilst the beautiful Tom Dixon lights and classic Eames chairs brings the whole look together.

Although I am not a fan of formal dining (you may have gathered) this sightly more formal space still works because it creates that wonderful friction between traditional and modern, and perfectly so. The original features and classical gold mirror completely jars with the modern light and colourful chairs, but the traditional table painted a modern bright white gloss links the two styles together a confidently creating a stylish room.

Even though the history books tell us we should have a formal dining room, our contemporary way of living and socialising simply doesn’t need it anymore.

So have I persuaded anyone that that there isn’t any room for a formal dining room?

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