This morning’s Wall Street Journal addresses the demise of the dining room in luxury homes: I wouldn’t be too fast in making this call. There is certainly a strong argument to be made that in large cities when confronted with high space costs the choice to have or not have a formal dining room are really not a choice at all. I have found on the high end of the luxury market, a dining room is absolutely essential. Who wouldn’t like a space to entertain friends and family in the civilized setting that only a dining room can deliver?
Many super-luxury clients entertain regularly on a more formal basis, and while many dining rooms are used primarily for Thanksgiving, I think a good bulk of them are being used…..and used more…..as we seem to have cut ourselves off from so much human inter-action through our obsession with technology and excessive work hours. What is more civilized than a hearty conversation around the dining table over a home-cooked meal? Surely we all have a 1-hour window every now and then to install this wonderful ritual into our lives? I know of parents who insist on a sit-down dinner at least 5 nights of the week where everyone gathers round to congregate, catch up and…..horrors…..talk to one another!
With the growing costs of space in a city like New York, most will not be in a position to afford a formal dining room: that is where I see the change happening for sure. Overall, most people who enjoy the dining experience are quite comfortable eating in less formal settings. The kitchen has experienced a similar evolution: Once upon a time kitchens were rather utilitarian and hidden behind closed doors….then the kitchen walls came crashing down and open kitchens emerged, especially downtown in loft settings. The practical realities of a fully open kitchen have since set in and many owners lament the days when the mess, smells and noise of a kitchen were hidden behind closed doors. Now the emergence of the ‘hybrid kitchen’, one that can be both open and closed as seen in new buildings such as 560 West 24th Street and Seven Harrison Street, seems to be a growing trend. I believe the same will happen for dining rooms. Whereas they may not have to be a dedicated, formal and enclosed room, they will be a part of a bigger room, with the possibility of closing them off when so desired.
The eat-in kitchen does address ‘dining around the table’ too…..we have installed banquettes in the kitchens at Seven Harrison Street in Tribeca to much fanfare.
So while the formal dining room may be a thing only for the very wealthy going forward, the concept of dining around a table is far from dead, and creative versions of the concept are certain to survive.