Striving for 1 main dining space...front vs rear

autumn.4March 7, 2013

I have searched already and found much on formal dining rooms but not much on a dining room that is casual yet not an eat in kitchen?

I have noticed in all of the plan searches I have done that the formal dining room is typically located in the front of the home - much discussion on that as well (public/private spaces).

We want seating at a peninsula or island for buffet/homework/snacks. I don't really need a breakfast nook on top of that as the island or peninsula will suffice. So for us it's a kitchen snack seating area and then 1 dining area.

My main question is:
Casual dining room in the front? Anyone have one? Does it flow okay?

Hubby is concerned about having it in the front because he'd rather have it in the back ‘private space’ viewing the woods but if it's somewhat open you could see out the front and back. I think we need to retrain our brains also because we will be moving from a subdivision to a wooded lot so we would naturally have a decent amount of privacy in the front whereas now we don't have any.
If instead you put the dining room where the nook would naturally be located off the back on the opposite side of the kitchen then what on earth goes in the front of the house to balance it all out?

We only wish for a small office (I mean small - 5x8 maybe). That isn't going to do it. The laundry room would be awkward there as it’s a private space. ???
It seems that if you don't want extra rooms or duplicates (casual/formal dining and living areas) then it kind of complicates things - thus the need for professional help I suppose.

Any thoughts on all of the above if you've made it this far? It seems like everything is competing for the back of the house and not much is left for the front except for awkward things that really are private spaces.

I attached an image of a plan that has one dining space in the front. I don’t care for how open the kitchen is and squashed into the living room but just looking at it in terms of location and proximity to the dining room. Will this work?

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I think you can have a more casual dining room in the front of your house. If you want it to be more private, you just don't open it up to the front foyer. That way people standing in the front foyer don't see into it.

The table we eat at daily is in the family room, but is only large enough for two people. That means when we have people over, we eat in the dining room. But that doesn't mean it is formal dining as we eat breakfast there too when we have company.

We live on a wooded lot with a long driveway with a circle in front of the house. We have plants in the circle as well as plants in front of the house. Normally, one would not be viewing the front plantings except for when they drive up to the house and pull into the garage. But with our set-up, we get to enjoy these gardens whenever we are using the dining room. My parents loved sitting at the dining room table and watching the hummingbirds.

Our house is also set-up so that the island faces into the dining room. Since the prep sink is on the island, my husband can also view these gardens when he is preparing meals.

So, that is my long answer, the shorter one is - no, I do not think a casual dining room has to be in the back of the house.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 1:41PM
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I have seen some lovely homes on here that have a nice dining room between the main living space and the kitchen. They seemed to be located in the rear of the home. I am not sure if this is how the one I am thinking of is actually set up...but I imagine it would be the direct view straight ahead from the front door. In the pics, it gave a nice break from the kitchen and family room, while not closing either off. I would definitely do a decent sized study/office in the front in this scenario. While you may only need a tiny office, if you had to sell it a future buyer would probably want that "away" room.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Yes, it can work. I have a friend who has this set up and as
dekeeoboe suggested, it's closed off from the foyer.

We have ours in the back between the kitchen and family room but we are in a sundivision and our view in the front is of our neighbor's ugly home.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:13PM
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LilFlowers MJLN

I have seen both front and rear formal dining rooms as well as casual breakfast nook style dining rooms. It's common in the south. I have a casual setup in the rear of the house. The kitchen and dining room is separated by a peninsula. I don't think I have any pictures of it on my computer. Personally, I prefer a front dining room. The reason I don't like my dining room now is that the back door is in between the dining room and the kitchen. It's where our shoes fall when we take them off. My family rarely uses the front door so I guess that is why I would want our dining room away from the clutter of everything. Right now when my boys come in from school, everything is put on the table. Maybe if I had a mudroom, it would be different. I don't know. I just know that in my next house I want it in the front of the house.

Sort of like this:

*I don't own these pictures. They are just inspiration for our next house.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:55PM
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I think a casual dining area to the rear of the house is more common, but I don't think it'd be odd or awkward in the least to orient it towards the front of the house. In fact, that's what we're doing.

The real questions are, Where are your best views/ most desireable spots? And, Which rooms are most important to you?

Personally, I value the kitchen more highly than the dining room. I'll spend more time in the kitchen, and I'd rather it faces the better views /has the best spot in the house. In contrast, when we're in the dining room, I feel that OTHER PEOPLE are the focus of the activity, and we'd pay little attention to the view. This, of course, is total opinion, but it illustrates how I personally answer those all-important questions above.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:58PM
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I like some of the more recent plans that have one long great room with the kitchen at one end with an island, then the DR in the middle, then the family room on the other end. There's typically no room for a sideboard/china cabinet -- just the table and chairs -- but it seems like a good use of space.

But if you also want the MBR on the back, you need to be able to tuck it behind the FR, so you're dealing with quite a wide plan. Which means it won't fit on a lot of the narrow lots available today. But maybe you won't be so restricted on your new lot.

The link below is just for the layout of the Kit/DR/FR -- not the rest of the house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Something like this

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 5:17PM
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"...the formal dining room is typically located in the front..."!

Come on, folks! The formal dining room, or any room, can be located (and should be) wherever it best supports the life style of the owners. There is no rule, law or even a principle, that says some rooms should be in the "front", while other rooms should be on the "back, side, or garage!"

This is exactly the sort of thinking that characterizes stock plans from the plan factories (which are design for no one, no site, no climate and no budget--but other than that they are great designs) and a custom home designed by an architect or designer.

If one wants a house design that's responsive to their life style, their site and budget the answer is simple: find an experienced and talented architect or designer and work together to do something better than what one gets online.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:52PM
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Thanks for the thoughtful responses! It was a mouthful to get out so I appreciate you sticking with it.

dekeoboe-that is a good point! I think we can also strategically plant some trees if need be so we have the privacy we desire and a nice view. Any pictures floating around GW with your kitchen/DR set up?

nini-that's the thing - I can't think of one person I know that has the dining room in the front or that you can see it from the front door. It's so hard to picture things without a frame of reference. We are building a smaller home and trying hard to not have wasted space or rooms that are used infrequently. And - achieve the level of openness/privacy at the same time.

pps7-believe me I know. In our current home I actually had to cover the small window we have out front not to block the view of the neighbor but the neighbor peeking IN if we didn't come to the door right away when he knocked - he's been known to walk around the back of the house too looking for my hubby. Ack! I am ready to move on from subdivision living! It's hard to picture a completely different location when you are so used to what you have. I think front would be fine and maybe kind of nice to see out the front and the back.

tiffany-that first pic with the brick - oh my that is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your inspirations. I like how the third one has the dining room in the front but it's still kind of off to the side and secluded. DH and I have differing thoughts on just how open our main spaces should be. We have a similar layout now that you are describing. Peninsula overlooks the dining room with a slider to the back yard. Our garage entry is right off the kitchen so we have shoes and dumping ground issues too but it's the kitchen counter instead of the table. :( I hope a small mudroom will help nip that too!

Hi Mrs. Pete-we are trying to decipher just that - where do we spend our time. I say kitchen living room but dh says he doesn't want to look out the front at the table. We are trying to really think through things and again - we will have quite a distance from our house to the neighbors across the street with some woods in between.

jakabedy-I also mentioned that sort of layout. The concern there is how wide you'd need it to not feel like you are continually walking around the table to get to the living room from the kitchen (not necessarily my concern but we both need to be happy). I am still keeping that layout in mind.

VC-I honestly haven't ever seen anything different in real life or in plans. I am still in discovery mode of what our new lot and desired life style is! After so many years in the same home it is challenging to think out of the box. At this point when we sit down with a designer I'm not sure I can say where I want that room. If it is in the front I'm not so opposed but it would have to be adjacent to the kitchen. I know I wouldn't want it too far displaced especially being the only true dining place.

As for the lot - it's wooded with mainly Oaks and a few Pines. It is more wide than deep but no neighbors to the back. The house will sit more forward than I can easily picture because of the easement. I struggle with that sort of thing.
A lot to ponder. Thanks again for sharing.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Autumn, if you are going to use an architect or designer to design your home, then spend your time with your spouse reaching agreement on your critical needs and desirable wants. You don't need to work out floor plans, elevations, style of architecture, etc.,--that's what your architect or designer is educated, trained and licensed to do and they have far greater experience and competency at doing so than you or most folks on this forum.

There's lot of good thoughts and experience shared here, but unless one is an architect or designer, experienced in the design of single family houses, it's best (and cheaper) to let these folks use their expertise in your behalf.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 9:01PM
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Have you looked at any Donald Gardner plans? He has a few with dining rooms in the back. Wilton, Eidelwiess, Whitney and a few more. You could eliminate the breakfast room. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Donald Gardner Wilton Plan

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 10:09PM
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Just wanted to say, I'm striving for the exact same layout- Dining Room that's not really a "Dining Room", but gives the illusion of its own space. Earlier, I was thinking an open kitchen/dining/family room would be just the ticket, but after reading so much on this site, it may be just too loud and too open. If anyone has links or picks, that would be great!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 12:09AM
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Any pictures floating around GW with your kitchen/DR set up?

Not on GW and the only thing I could find on my computer is an old floor plan. A few things changed after this, but it will give you the main idea. As mentioned above, we do not have any doors on the actual dining room.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:59AM
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VC-well said. I think we need to do just that and go from there. We have 2 'meet and greets' set up next week. We have started a list of sorts and I did pass that along. The main issue that we differ on is he wants an open plan ( everyone is building an open plan that is all you see in parade homes, etc. I am fine with somewhat open but do not want to lose the cozy homey feel. I also do NOT like people/guests watch me work in the kitchen. We don't entertain often though so I guess I need to let that go.

tisme-that's not bad. I rather like the elevation too. We have looked at nearly a million (I SWEAR it has to be true) plans including many Don Gardners. It seems there are bits and pieces we like in many but not the full package, there is always something. I hope this years spring parade of homes has some variety to get a feel for things! That will help immensely!

nepool-I hear ya. I know I don't want a 2 story great room thanks to the many threads on it here. :)

dekeoboe-thank you for sharing that. With our land and existing driveway we have the potential for a courtyard garage as well.

I am anxious to get started to just knock out these unknowns such as floor plan and elevation. It's driving me crazy.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 9:33PM
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