i+D - January/February 2018 - 44

The Demise of the Dining Room - By Michele Keith

Elegant and functional:
Designer Chris M. Shields
combines the kitchen-counter
eating area with a classic
dining room.

Why Open-Plan
Layouts Now?
In San Francisco, interior designer Chris M. Shields explains the reason for
the popularity of great rooms today is due to the way we live. "People are
shying away from [formal dining rooms] because our lifestyles have grown
more casual and fewer people have been raised in families with traditional
dining styles."
Myers-Fierz blames technology for the move from dining room to open plan.
"It has separated us, putting everyone on different schedules, keeping us
working full time at full speed. Communal spaces do, however, allow for
interaction, communication, eye contact-things that are very much needed,
but missing today. Also, such spaces are not formal, which corresponds with
today's more relaxed lifestyle."
"Yes, the dining room is on the outs, and great rooms are becoming the
norm," agrees Shields. "What hasn't changed though, and might be
increasing, is our desire for togetherness and shared time, especially when
it comes to food. Many clients still ask for a dedicated place for the dining
table, which can be placed in any number of places, and which, incidentally,
has become larger over the last few years."
Artwork and interesting
lighting create warmth
in even the most
contemporary of traditional
dining rooms. Designed
by Jody Myers-Fierz.
(Image: Jane Beiles)

Designing Ops and Challenges
All the designers agree that, if a positive outcome is to be reached, it is
crucial to discuss both current dining habits and how a client would ideally
like to dine, in initial talks. "What we normally find," Swadron notes,
"is that flexibility in dining options is very important. The same client may be
perfectly happy eating breakfast while standing at the kitchen counter, taking
family meals at a big round table in the kitchen, hosting parties in
a formal dining room, or using the kitchen counter as a buffet table with
guests spreading out to eat in the lounge area."
While great rooms provide many positives-there's no need to adhere to
symmetrical layouts or formal room definition; they can deliver a sense of
drama-Swadron says it requires careful consideration to create a sense
of intimacy and warmth. Natural materials, changing the floor or ceiling
(constructing different levels), incorporating furniture layouts to help define
areas, lighting and art features: All are devices that can assist in creating
more comfortable spaces.

Lifestyles have grown more
casual and fewer people have
been raised in families with
traditional dining styles.

44

One staple in Myers-Fierz's design plans for communal spaces is the
classic wood farm table, especially when surrounded by simple chairs left
unupholstered or covered with a high-performance Crypton fabric, which is
resistant to stains and odors.
Also a fan of dining tables, Shields points out that, while many activities other
than eating take place at today's dining tables, "I'm convinced people still
yearn to be surrounded by family and friends while sharing a meal. The dining
table continues to be a foundational element in the home."

i+D - January/February 2018



i+D - January/February 2018

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