What is the logic behind a dining room immediately off the foyer?

minneapolisiteJuly 28, 2012

I've seen this repeated in many floorplans, including my own. (We'll be using the "dining room" as a piano / homework room.)

What is the logic behind putting the dining room RIGHT off the foyer? Is the idea that guests won't come any further into your home? Or that the dining room makes an elegant focal point upon entry? I just can't wrap my head around why this is so popular.

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We are designing our new home with the dining room directly off the foyer. Main reason - our dining room furniture is probably the most elegant we have and because it is not often used, the room can be kept pristine.
Essentially the most presentable room and never cluttered.

Simple table arrangements or table clothes can change the look and all the fancy china and crystal is on display.

Only exception is the collection of dog toys under the table as she uses it as her hiding place.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:04AM
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For us, it's a room we don't mind facing the street and being near knocking/the door bell. We don't want the rooms off the foyer to be bedrooms (less privacy, more noise, worst view).... that leaves very limited options!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:31AM
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I think you hit the reason... if the dining room is right off the foyer, there isn't a reason for guests to delve too far into your home. It's the division of formal space and casual space. I think being DIRECTLY off the foyer is more of a function of smaller homes, when there isn't space to tuck the dining room away. I've always felt it was appropriate.

When I was looking for house plans, before we went to an architect, I kept finding amazing plans EXCEPT, the dining rooms were attached to/in the kitchen! To me, this is insanity. All I could think of is Thanksgiving, when I set my beautiful table and prepare to eat with family and guests, they need to look at the kitchen mess while eating? Or am I supposed to clean the kitchen BEFORE we sit down for a meal? I'm a messy cook! :)

Where are you feeling the dining rooms should go?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The first rooms that you encounter in a home are for public "presentation" and are formal in nature. This is a holdover from the larger sized homes and the era of much more formal living. There were (and still are) layers of privacy in a relationship and a home that you peel away only after a long acquaintanceship. You would never have received a stranger or acquaintance into your home and invite them into the back parlor, as that was reserved for the family. Even today with less emphasis on formality, you would not make available your own master bathroom to guests during a gathering. You might spiff up the kids bath to act as an "overflow" to the powder room, but the "inner sanctum" is still reserved only for those who know us very well. (This is also one reason a powder room off of the foyer is perennially popular in more formal homes.)

With today's informal living and the need to wring a use out of every expensive to build square foot, you are seeing less and less dedicated formal rooms that never get used. Many more people are incorporating their "breakfast" and "dining" areas into a single eating area that is more flexible for everyday family dining as well as larger gatherings. It's making a smaller home work harder and smarter rather than dedicating 1/3 of the downstairs area to areas that get used 1/30th of a year. (And that's being generous in that the spaces get used 12x a year.) And that's also why you see so many oversized "master suites" being built. People need privacy and private spaces. Opening the family room up to the kitchen and dining and all guests who come into your home can be wearing on your nerves. Thus the "spa bathrooms" that are bigger than many kids rooms. And that's also why you are seeing a lot of "great rooms" and "dens" on the same plans. People crave a small cozy spot where they feel sheltered. High ceilings and open living do not provide that.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 11:38AM
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For our lifestyle, we don't need a formal dining room. Our entertainment style is really casual, and I really enjoy being able to chat with my guests while I finish up dinner or grab dessert from the kitchen.

I keep telling my husband that when we can afford a live-in cook, that's when I would need a formal dining room. :P

The reasons you all have given for a formal dining room to be in the front of the house make sense. :)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Our dining room is off of our front foyer and it is placed there by default. We knew we wanted a dining room, it had to go somewhere and we didn't want any of our other rooms near the front of the house for all the reasons mentioned above.The dining room not only serves as a buffer between the front and our every day living space it is clutter free most of the time. We looked at many floor plans that used that space for an office but in our case our office is a working office and I didn't want the mess to be the first thing people see when they step into our home.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 3:01PM
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My formal dining room s one of my very favorite rooms, decor-wise, in my house! I love the way it looks with the chandelier, sconces, and buffet lamps lit at night, both in the house and from the outside. I love that it (and the foyer, which I also love) are the first things that a guest sees. I actually go out of my way to use that room...at the last PTO board meeting held at my house, it would have been the easiest thing to do to set up the refreshments on my kitchen island since we were meeting in the family room. But I wanted to showcase the dining room, so I put the food in there! I served birthday cake to a bunch of 9 year olds in there (definitely would have been easier in the bfast room!). I just love formal rooms...such an old school traditionalist!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Great answers above. Ours is off the foyer across from the den/piano studio. We have a chandelier rough-in but use the room as a living room/waiting area.

Around here, the dining room is sometimes called a 'flex room' so it really can be a multipurpose space. The bump-out for the hutch, we use to house a TV cabinet instead. Works well.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 4:27PM
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I think there might be one more reason in the urban model. The house I bought (1963) and a lot of the older houses that were rehabbed at that time as a part of urban redevelopment put the kitchen and dining right up front. Both the kitchen and dining room in my new house face the street. Since the house is literally On the sidewalk, it also puts the part of the house where the activity is noisier on the noisy side of the house, and puts the living area where you will be up later, need more quiet and want more privacy at the back.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 5:48PM
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I think it is for formality as others mentioned. I never felt the ned for one as we are quite informal, but I needed to eat up space in my house (had to meet a sq. ft min.) so I decided to put in a large one that has an opening in the foyer. If I built a smaller house I may have just combined it with the living room.

I love to cook and this is our first real house together so I am hoping to host great diner parties at some point. I also would like to have us eat in there a couple times a month but that may be hard with small babies. In any case it will be a look don't touch room...the only one in my house. I have an artist doing a custom mural and are having chairs custom made.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:57AM
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LilFlowers MJLN

My own reasons for wanting a dining room off the foyer is because it's aesthetically pleasing from both the inside and outside. At the moment our ONLY living room is off of the foyer. Whenever someone comes to knock on the door, it's the 1st room they see. We aren't messy people but I have baby furniture and toys placed in the corner. I would rather my living room in the rear of the house. My dining room ATM is at the back of our house and is connected to the kitchen. I would rather it be separated because as someone else mentioned, I am also a very messy cook and don't want to be looking at a messy kitchen while we're eating our somewhat formal dinner during our holidays. I love how a dining room chandelier in a large window looks from the outside of the house. It's just what I like. Some like it and others don't. I have seen multiple plans that do not have a "formal" dining room off of the foyer It's either connected to the kitchen or it's attached to the living room in the back of the house. The front consists of bedroom windows and the garage. It's just not me.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Our house plans called for the dining room on the front of the house off the foyer with a pass through door to the kitchen. We rarely used our formal dining in our other house, so in the new build we turned our formal dining room into a study and took away the pass through door. If we ever sold the home - someone could turn it into a dining room. I like the look of the study from the front entry way and front windows as much as I would have liked a formal dining room.

We just hosted our first large dinner of 15 and I was able to get everyone into the kitchen (between the bar & kitchen table) and was thankful!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:10AM
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From our foyer (relatively large since it used to be the LR)

The dining room is on one side, the addition with the new living room on the other side of the foyer.

A small hallway to the stairs is in front of you.

the 'public space' ends.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:01PM
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