How many of you use your dining room?

lavender_lassOctober 6, 2009

I am pretty new to this forum and have a question. How many of you use your dining room, as opposed to a kitchen table for regular meals? I am debating whether to open the kitchen and dining room up as a country kitchen, or keep the dining room and expand the kitchen on the back of the house...better views :)

While trying to decide the advantages of space vs. cost, I thought I'd try to find out if there are any of you who have faced similar decisions while remodeling old houses. Thanks for your input!

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I'm a bit of a house snob so please let that color your vision of my answer :)

In most old homes they used separate rooms for separate reasons (ie a dining room that was not open in a large way to the kitchen). For me, this is the sheer joy of an old home :) Rooms with purposes! So the theory of the country kitchen in a home that probably (from what you're asking) has a real dining room is a sin to me. But that's just me :) I shudder when people open up the closed rooms of the old homes they love LOL And they still love them so I guess it's ok :)

I can't give you a rousing "Do what works for you" cuz the old house snob in me won't let me. But you could consider making your dining room a place you want to be in :) We eat in our dining room several times a week, mostly the evening meal. It's a very elegant room with a plastic cover on the table to protect it from a 3 year old :) But we still eat in there so he'll learn what dining rooms are for. I think today's families are missing that experience personally.

In our new "old" house we'll actually be lucky enough to have a very formal dining room and there is a servant's dining room which we'll use as our family dining room (so I can avoid the plastic table cloth LOL). Our plans are to use the family dining room most meals and reserve the formal room for sunday dinners and special occasions with the kids. The only reason being that it's a really old house where they didn't like to see the kitchen from the dining room so I can't prepare meals while watching kids play unless I want them playing frisbee with the china....

Mind you, I don't even cook...DH does that, but it sounded good didn't it? :oP

Anyhoo, I suppose I'd drive the answer based on what kind of old house you've got. I just can't encourage you to make a victorian into a open floor plan :( it always hurts me to see that.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 11:57PM
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Our home is an old Victorian house with a square "four room" pattern downstairs: dining room and living room in front, kitchen and family room in rear, and central hallway down the middle front to back. (Actually, we think the back family room was the original dining room, and the two front rooms were living room/parlor, but it was changed around by the previous owner).

I can understand your situation because we are currently planning our kitchen remodel and faced a similar question. When I was first dreaming about my kitchen remodel, I really wanted an island and achieve that particular "kitchen experience". There's just not enough room in the current kitchen footprint to have one unless we break into the dining room. And so, I am giving up my idea of the kitchen island because I really really love my separate dining room. In interviewing kitchen designers, a few have asked why not break into the dining room to get more space for the kitchen. I've had to be firm in saying No Way.

I just *love* having a separate dining room, in that old fashioned sense of the word, with its table and chair set, a china cabinet in the corner, etc. It gives me a sense of peace to sit down and eat in there. If I had to eat in a combo kitchen/dining, I'd be distracted throughout the meal in seeing things I should attend to in the kitchen space.

I even love sitting in my dining room just to read a book with a cup of coffee and a cookie.

Besides the emotional part, there's the additional cost of mess and construction if we had opted to remove the dining room wall just to fulfill my kitchen island vision. I'm happy with the decision we made to keep the dining room intact and do a kitchen design that feels like it belongs in this house.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:19AM
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Over the last 35 years and many homes, we have eaten in a formal dining room once. That's undoubtedly why they always looked so pristine and inviting.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:44AM
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During the sixteen years we've lived in our old house, the dining room has not always been furnished as such, and at the moment still isn't, but I am planning to get back to that model eventually. Not only for eating though, or at least not often. Our kitchen table just seems to be the central operating station for every activity that goes on in the house, and I cannot seem to keep the "stuff" off it. A table is a practical place for doing everything, or so it seems, whether it's reading the paper or sewing up some curtains. So I figure that having two tables available in the house can only be a good thing.

Having said that, our kitchen in our old house, at 10x16, is a huge room, relative to the rest of the house anyway, and elongated, so our design put the kitchen workings at one end and the table at the other, with a peninsula of counter, where the sink is, separating the two. So when we do have guests, although the kitchen is right there, it feels/looks somewhat separate. And I can do the dishes after dinner (don't have a dishwasher anymore, yay!) while they relax and we chat!

In summary, my decision about what to do with the dining room was not about the kitchen and eating per se, but about the needs of living in the house as a whole.

And I do love Igloochic's answer: we didn't move any walls or open any rooms as the integrity of the house design is important to us. I also can't get over thinking that the house will fall down if a single stud is removed...


    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:22PM
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I would never do away with my dining room. First because it is original to the house. Also because we use it for extended family dinners, dinner parties, holidays, etc. And because I love the room. You look into it from the front sitting room and it is very pretty. I would not want to change the view or its function. And lastly, it would be a detriment to the resale value of the house. We don't intend to move from this house until we need assisted living, but it is an asset that we will leave to our kids and I want to maintain its value.

As so many people on this forum believe, I believe that we are just caretakers of our old homes and the beauty of old homes is a result of the proportions, layout, design details - all which were applied with much more thought than most houses built in the last 30 years.

Jumping off my soapbox now...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:41PM
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I grew up in a house with a formal dining room. We only used it for holidays or big parties.

My current house has a dining room but not an eat in kitchen. Obviously, we use the dining room every day. Our final remodeling plans don't include knocking down any walls in formal rooms, but we will be enlarging the doorway to the kitchen from the dining room.

Personally, I think it depends a lot on your particular house. If you have space for a room that only gets used 5 times a year, a formal dining room can be a blessing. If you have a 900 sq ft bungalow, you may not have the luxury of letting a space sit idle for 360 days a year.

As to messing with an old house's design.... well, I guess it depends on the old house. Some houses are practically works of art. I wouldn't alter a work of art for temporary convenience. On the flip side, some older houses were poorly laid out to begin with. I don't feel compelled to preserve something just because it is old. I'm certainly not going to live without electricity or indoor plumbing just because it wasn't original to the house. I'm not going to heat my house with coal even if the little coal fireplaces are charming. I'm going to have a big fridge even if the original icebox location is tiny. I'm going to put more than 1 bathroom in a 5 bedroom house. All of these are choices I would make that would sacrifice some of the old "charm" for modern convenience. Everyone is going to draw that line at a different point in terms of where convenience stops and preservation begins.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 1:53PM
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Our dining room is important to us. It was the scene of my wedding reception 24 years ago, and the scene of my in-law's and (even earlier) great in-laws 50th wedding anniversary receptions. It is where we gather with extended family and friends for Thanksgiving. It is where DH and I have intimate New Year's Eve or Valentine's dinners. We don't have kids, so we don't eat meals daily in the dining room (we tend to eat dinner at the bar in the kitchen - egads!).

And, as to preserving the integrity of an old home, I don't think I could say it better than Diane did :-). Even though our home is modest compared to many who frequent this forum, I love it's old bones and the purpose of every room. I value it's history, as well as how we live with it today.

Have we all faced the decision you are grappling with today? I'd wager we all have at one time or another. For some it is not a decision at all - for enthusiastic lovers of old homes, that is. A friend of ours recently removed a wall between the dining room and kitchen in his small victorian, in order to make the kitchen bigger and more comfortable. It makes me sick, but it makes him happy. Removing that wall is what some people choose, but if I were faced with your choice and could expand the kitchen out the back of the house, that's what I'd do. Plus, you get the bonus of the better views!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 2:35PM
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Thank you all for your input. After reading your responses, I realized that part of the problem is the "dining room" used to be the living room. It's an old, but small farmhouse that was basically a living room (12' x 13') with a kitchen behind it (12' x 10') and a small alcove to the side of the living room for the "master" bedroom (about 8' square). Upstairs is an open room that can either serve as one big bedroom, or be divided into two small bedrooms.

In the 1950's my husband's grandparents added an addition to the house, which includes the new living room (with a great brick fireplace) that is reached by walking through the old "master" bedroom, with a new master bedroom and small bathroom behind it. The addition also includes a basement family room, with a brick fireplace and an attic area above the living room.

The "dining room" or old living room, has the front door in one corner, and two windows in the other corner. I've been planning to move the front door to the old "master" bedroom, which is in the middle of the house, and make it an entry and turn the stairs around to face the front entry, not the back of the house and the pantry/later bathroom.

The house was built in 1904 and for some reason I really love it. I think it's partly the age and partly that my husband's great-uncle built the addition and my husband's uncle built the brick fireplaces. The old part of the house needs a lot of work, but there is a lot of charm. The one thing I prefer in the old part of the house is the trim, which still exists in the kitchen. The 1950's trim (not my style) was used in the dining room and the new part of the house, but that heavy square trim is still in the kitchen and pantry area.

Worthy- your comment is what I've been thinking too. I hate to have a room I don't use every day, so I'm thinking about keeping the two rooms somewhat separate, but opening up the wall in between them, at least the top half, and adding a breakfast bar with two stools. There would still be about 2 1/2' of wall space on either side, with a 5' opening for the counter area and the 3' doorway next to it. In once corner, I hope to put a corner hutch.

Since it is a farm house, I hate to get too fancy and I hope to add on a screen/sun porch along the back to take advantage of the views. Where the front door is now (in the corner of the current dining room) I plan to put a small woodstove, which will leave enough area for a table and corner window seats with a couple of chairs. Not a lot of space for dining, but the porch would make a nice place for bigger sit down dinners.

Thank you all again for your input. I agree, that a formal dining room is a beautiful room, but out here in the country, I may not use it as much as I'd like to and the expense of adding on to the kitchen, would eliminate my porch :( Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Viva la porch! I love them too...
I like your idea of moving the front door to that old "master" bedroom and making it an entry room. Given how you've described your home, I think you are making reasonable decisions about the kitchen and making it an eat-in "country" kitchen. Farm houses often grow "organically" (if you'll pardon the pun), as yours already has with the grandparent's addition. You are adding to the family history of the place with your own changes. Every house is different, as bill1 noted, and we have to be both practical and cognizent of the value of preserving what's unique and special about our old homes. You know, since you love the old square woodwork (trim), you can reproduce it in all the other rooms of your home. That would be really nice and tie the old and new parts together. Keep us posted on your progress. I'll be interested to see how it turns out.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 3:37PM
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Your description does really help with this question :) I am sure that, like me, people are probably picturing their old house when answering the question that pertains to YOUR old house. In my old house...I'd call it a sin to get rid of the dining's obviously a dining room (though it was a surgery in the 1920's so it has done double duty in the past...I am wondering what exactly has been "carved" at the table over the years LOL)

But given the layout and the history of your place, it does sound like making the changes is actually a good idea :) Especially making a real enterance hall verses having it be through the dining room/old living room. I'm sure you're going to LOVE THAT!!!

Post pictures as you plan :) We all love to see them!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 4:13PM
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Yes, pictures would be great!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 5:12PM
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our house is different summer house is attatched to house.we changed it a little we put dining room in where kitchen use to be,When you walk in my house you walk in dining room.I love it we eat there every nite.I have big walk in fireplace in there/.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 10:27PM
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I think the important thing is to keep in character with the house and do anything weird. If the room was not originally a dining room, then you technically aren't upsetting the original layout of the house.

Before we started on our current addition process, we used the dining room for every meal because we did not have an eat-in kitchen.

I thought long and hard about the dining room and kitchen and what we decided to do was to make the dining room larger (we have four kids and hopefully they will all come for holidays once in a while).

As far as the kitchen went, I could have either done an eat-in kitchen or a large island. I opted for the island because I wanted the work space and because I figured I could use that to feed the kids breakfast and lunch, but for dinners, we would eat in the dining room.

If I were building a house from scratch, I'd skip the dining room because they aren't that practical. But since the house came with one, I figure I should take good care of it.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 10:31PM
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Here's a question for those who think changing the footprint of an old house is almost a sin, "Where do you stand on preserving the farmland that surrounds (or once surrounded) those old homes?" Is just preserving the home important or is land preservation also important? Or do the rules change when someone wants to build a new home in the country?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:19PM
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Lavender, I read through this, and one of the main charms of an old farmhouse is that each generation has made their mark. One of my very favorite things about old farm houses is the rambling additions that so many have. As the family grew and as it needed different things, another addition was added. If price were on object (which it so rarely is) I would say, put on an addition! But, since you probably don't have that luxury, I'd say go ahead and make a few changes to the dining room and yes yes to the porch!

My home is from 1898 and has a formal dining room that I would be horrified if it was taken away- but my home was built as a final product, not to be tampered with. Those rambling farm houses were so often built more as a process.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 9:15AM
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country smile,
I read your question with interest and will be interested to see the responses. I don't live out in the country, but I live in a small rural town with - what used to be - miles and miles of ranches surrounding it. Where I live (in the Colorado mountains) the development issue is a very controversial and complex one. I'll just say that I give money regularly to the local ranchland conservancy district because I don't want to see our valley covered in housing developments. I'd rather see the towns concentrated in a defined, intelligently planned manner and keep the ranchland "cooridors" between towns just that - ranchland. I don't mind the mega-millionaires who buy up huge ranches and keep them open space though, because we also have tons of US forest and wilderness areas in the nearby area for public access. The mega-millionaire ranch retreats around here at least keep the ranchland open space and the views pristine. It's the people who want to develop 3 to 35 acre tracts that can really mess up the valley.

So, as to a person who buys a farm or ranch and wants to build a new house... IMHO that's OK. Personally, I'd rather see that, than an accumulation of trailers put up for the kids, etc. (Sorry if that sounds bad, but you asked for opinions.) I do feel that the abandoned old farm and ranch houses are sad though. I always wonder what state they might be in when I drive past one with the windows boarded up and everything neglected. People are going to use land in various ways, and they should have a right to use their land within the local codes and regs as they wish. I just love old houses and it makes me happier to see them restored. :-) -Kim

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 11:52AM
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Country...I just ran into your question in our home purchase :) We are not purchasing in the country, but we did purchase an 1889 queen anne that fills it's lot completely. It was more expensive than the original home we'd planned on by a few hundred thousand and because the home, and it's adjacent lot, are deeded separetly, they offered to sell just the home to us without the gardens.

In our case, the gardens are (in my opinion) pretty important to the home so we swung a deal to cover the purchase of those as well. It would be a horrible shame to see someone come in and build on that piece because it would cozy right up to the house, bad both in looks and livability. We actually wouldn't have purchased the house if we couldn't have made a deal for the gardens. It would have been a sin in my mind.

BUt when it comes to a big farm...I think you have to look at how the house sits on the farm, and then think about what could be sold if necessary. Personally I'd love to keep it all, but that isn't always practicle. If you can control what gets built on it, that's a bonus (ie you build a spec home on some land that flows well with your home) but again that does not always work. I think it's nice to keep as much land as necessary to maintain the integrity of the home's setting. Maybe that's an acre, maybe that's ten acres or maybe a few hundred sq ft...but enough so that you don't have a house sitting on top of the farm house if possible.

Farm houses have their own unique charm. At least for me they do :) And a huge part of that charm is the outbuildings and the property surrounding them. They tend to sit proud in their location and you can feel that pride as you look at them and imagine the peaceful life they provided there amidst the fields :) (Ok they got up at 3 am to go find the lost cow but since I'm not a farmer I can imagine it's peaceful and easy LOL)

Whatever you do, don't lose that "sitting proud" feeling. I've seen it protected by keeping a larger lot and surrounding it with tight hedges (low but diferentiating you from the neighbors) or a beautiful picket fence. Something that gives boundries, then be sure to keep a beautiful lawn so that you still look at the farm house and feel that individual feeling verses being a home among the masses :)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 1:31PM
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Our farmhouse sits on about 100 acres, which is about a third of the original farm. My husband's aunt has the rest of the property, which she may sell, but it's about a quarter mile down the road from us.

One reason we do not have a lot of money for the house is that we do not want to sell any land. There is a 40 acre minimum in our area, but that could change if developers ever become interested. Luckily, we're half an hour (or more) from the nearest large town and the almost 100" of snow we've had the last few winters (and the downturn in the housing market) seem to have developers less than interested.

For now, my husband's aunt would probably have to sell the land as farmland. I think the best thing we can do to preserve farm and ranch land is to encourage farmers and ranchers to continue. As long as there is money in both, the land will be protected. If they can't make a profit, or if some of the regulations are not changed, some areas will probably end up being houses.

It would be nice if there was more opportunity for farmers and ranchers to make a nice living, then some of those abandoned houses might be reclaimed. BTW, I'm not a farmer or rancher, just have some horses that are more pets than anything else.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 2:31PM
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Thanks for the interesting reading on your thoughts on preserving both the character of old homes as well as the surrounding land. IÂm on board with you in that I think preserving the land holds as much importance as preserving the house.

Our farmhouse sits on 100+ acres which my husband farms. The house is old  IÂm talking about late 1790s old. Some things unique to it are: wedge-shaped steps at the bottom of the stairs, an arch cellar, a dirt cellar floor with a almost walk-in sized fireplace (where the furnace now sits), exposed original beams in the LR, floor to ceiling 6 ½ ft wide limestone fireplace in the LR, a wrap around porch, and deep windowsills due to the 2 ft thick stone walls. We did a 3-room remodel this year which included removing 2 walls so the kitchen is open to both the LR and DR. (We gutted the rooms and would you believe we found an interior wall composed of mud, straw and horse hair!) The motivation for the remodel was to create a space where we could continue to hold family dinners, but have more space for our increasing # of family members and to make better use of the space, preferable without having to add on.

Before, we had a DR that was used only 3-4 times a year. Now we use the DR every day. We can stretch out the table for large dinners when necessary without feeling cramped. I donÂt miss having a separate room because thereÂs still a header dividing the rooms (load-bearing walls) and the 120+ year hardwood floors in the LR and DR help to separate the spaces while complementing the new Adura flooring in the kitchen. (The original wide plank floors are under this floor but we werenÂt sure of their condition.) The separate rooms are identifiable but theyÂre open  (hope that makes sense). And, I like the fact that I can be working at the new kitchen island (I call it "command central") and am able to communicate with anyone in the LR or DR. The outside of our home, which looks like an old farmhouse, is little indication to whatÂs inside.

We completely changed the footprint in the kitchen but it doesnÂt seem wrong in the least. The only downside to the rooms being opened up is not having a wall (sound barrier) for the TV in the kitchen and the TV in the LR. If someone were to buy our home in the future, they could replace those walls again, (as well as expose the fireplace in the kitchen that we covered up - gasp âº), but somehow I doubt they would want to.

We remodeled with an aim toward transitional styling. If I were to post pictures, IÂm gambling that my new GW acquaintances - igloochic, kimkitchy, lavendar lass and others - would agree that we didnÂt damage the character nor the integrity of the house.

Again, I enjoyed your posts on this topic. THANKS for reading my lengthy post  I have the bad habit of being too wordy at times. âº

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 11:46PM
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We removed the wall between our kitchen and dining room too, because the kitchen was tiny, especially for a farmhouse. Farmhouse kitchens are the workhouse of the home. I preserve food from our garden and orchard as well as prepare meals there. You can't do that well with 'tiny'. It's such an old house there weren't built in cabinets when it was built. Nor were there cookstoves or fridges. LOL. We went with a five by eight and a half foot island and still have room for a large oak dining room table and chairs for family dinners. Our farmhouse is about 190 years old, and we have the two foot deep window wells, too. We retained the eight foot wide floor to ceiling hearth in our kitchen and love it. Especially so since we combined the rooms and spend most of our time there.

I actually think this larger room looks more period correct than what was here before. I believe by the clues this house was built and then expanded upon rather soon thereafter. It's like two complete two over two houses, as if the first one was built and then somebody decided to shove a second one just like it against it to form one ell shaped house. One house has a cellar, one doesn't. Even the floors upstairs are different levels in each house section. So, the original kitchen was very small by necessity. We just finished up the remodel somebody else started before the civil war. We put the pitcher pump back in the kitchen when we gathered the extra space, too. So now I have water source when I'm on the grid or off.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 5:50AM
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calliope - I'd love to see your kitchen with the deep window wells, floor to ceiling hearth, pitcher pump and remodeled space. It sounds "warm & welcoming" and awesome! (I had second thoughts about covering up the fireplace in the kitchen but since the wall is now open to the LR with the floor-to-ceiling fireplace, I thought one fireplace was sufficient and stuck to our original plans to cover it.) My kitchen is a workhorse too with all the summertime preserving and daily home-cooked meals.

When I hear civil war I think Gettysburg - by any chance are you close to Gettysburg? Our house is also a mystery in how it might have changed through the years. The contractors were scratching their heads trying to figure it it out!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 6:38AM
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Well, if it makes you feel better, my dh covered over the fireplace in what was once the dining room. No sense in having two fireplaces in the same room.

There was literally a fireplace in each room, four are covered over completely and two more have the fireboxes covered, but the hearth and mantles remain and the ones in the kitchen and living room are still open. Our house has changed precious little over the years. It still had a wooden shake roof until the early thirties, and then slate after that. The kitchen stairwell was removed before we bought it. Other than that, it all looks to be pretty much the same. Still has the plank flooring. The beams are just logs under the house. The upper beams are hand hewn. The original brick has been covered in stucco since the 30s. Our interior walls are brick covered with old plaster. Even the interior walls are 18" thick. Some of the doors have the original latches. I have seen pictures of the family living here during the civil war and the stone front door stoop was already worn down and spooned. No, I am nowhere near Gettysburg. I'm in the Ohio Valley.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 8:38AM
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Hi again. This is a good coversation. I'm sure I've seen calliope's terrific pump and parts of her kitchen pics posted here. Love it! Sounds like the way in which country and calliope have reconfigured are really similar. And, I do love seeing the pics posted of what folks have done with their remodels and restorations... so, post those pics country smile and (again) calliope too. [Not only am I old house obsessed, I'm totally kitchen obsessed. Can't help myself.] :-)

Question for igloo... probably read this over on "kitchens", but I forget... are you keeping your house in Alaska too? Or are you moving to the new old house full time? Your AK project was fun to follow; the tile foyer was to die for and the finished kitchen pics with those views.... beautiful! You have great taste and it will be interesting to follow the work on your new house too. Just curious.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 12:09PM
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Calliope I'm dying to see pics of your house...I'm in love and haven't even seen it :)

Kim we're keeping the townhouse in Alaska. My husband will be working both here and in WA (he'll open an office in the gardners cottage on the grounds). He'll be one week with us and one week in AK so we have a good excuse to keep this place. But my son and I also plan on coming back to Alaska every summer (soon to be ruled by his school schedule). We love it here and it will be kind of a fun change to go from new eclectic to victorian charm every year :)

Thank you for the compliments :) I do love how this place turned out and as I pack I'm feeling more and more sad about leaving our home so soon after it was finished. We really love coming back to this place after we've traveled, and DS is enchanted with his room (I don't know if you ever saw pics but it's a 1930's safari tent...literally :) with the walls pulled back to reveal a safari full of animals waiting to play with him). We always knew we'd leave Alaska some day, but not so soon. We're doing it for his health though so we really don't have a choice. We're just lucky to be moving to another cool place and it's near grandma which is going to be wonderful for my son.

I'm pretty excited to get to play with a fabulous victorian :) Such a different project than this place was. There will be no chickens in the kitchen heh heh and I'm ruled by the previous owner's choices (the builder I guess I should say) so instead of my mosaic in the foyer I have to save up to replace his tile entry (minton tiles). The house was built by a man for his family and it has this real manly feel in a good way. Less lacy and more big hulking wood victorianana. It even comes with some of their original furniture :) And the original drapes on the main floor still remain. (They will be taken down and preserved since I have a dog, cat and 3 year old). It's so fun to discover what was verses imagine what could be :) Ya'll understand that because you have historic places, but we're just head over heals about learning the history of the place and hope to restore the few things that are missing (a few fireplaces, a water tower, and a fabulous fence that used to surround the property).

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 8:32PM
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Igloochic, where in Washington? It sounds like your new home is going to be quite a design change. Haven't seen your other home pics, but your son's bedroom sounds like every little boy's dream bedroom!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 3:39PM
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It's in Port Townsend lavender. A very sweet victorian seaport :)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 4:18PM
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calliope home is humble and from the outside it looks just exactly what it is, an old Federal no-nonsense farmhouse. I have owned Victorians, and this house certainly lacks the gingerbread and fine carpentry. It's big, and clunky and plain and simple and I love it. It's a lot like me. LOL. The grounds are to die for, however, and it has a certain rustic charm what suits our lifestyle. Function over form.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 11:44PM
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I just wanted to say that I would kill for a real dining room. The "dining room" in my house is also the office and the only place books can go and the only place the piano fits...

I could NOT live in an open plan. I just can't handle the big open, empty spaces with no direction. I like a separate dining room, separate living room, and separate kitchen. Heck, I'd like a separate play room for the kids too, so that all the toys and plastic flotsam and jetsam could be... somewhere else. I don't want to eat dinner and see all the kitchen stuff, the dishes in the sink and the leftover yuck from prep. I don't want to be trying to have a nice meal with the tv right there...because I know that if its in the same room, it'll be harder to keep off during meals. And I don't want to be relaxing in the living room, but having to smell what's going on in the kitchen (especially if its the garbage or burnt popcorn).

I could not live in an open plan. I need separation. I feel like open plans get messier too - its harder to put things in their place if everything goes in the same place.

Just my two cents!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 10:53PM
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Igloochic- Port Townsend is where my friend wants to retire. She says it's a fabulous area!

Melanie- I agree that everything open to everything else can be chaotic. It takes careful planning to have an open floor plan. The book, The Not So Big House, talks about the advantages of open living, but warns that it doesn't work for everyone. Most of the houses the author/architect designs includes an "away room" to get away from all the openess :)

In the farmhouse I'm planning to remodel, the living room is on one side of the house and the dining room is on the other, with the kitchen behind it. We don't have kids, so I'm concerned I won't use the dining room that often, if it's not open to the kitchen. That being said, I plan to have a peninsula (raised) between the two rooms to hide my mess because I love to cook but I do make a mess :)

After many comments and suggestions, I've decided to move the wood stove to the porch and have a bigger table and chairs in the dining room. I still plan to have one large window seat on the front wall, with bookcases on either side.

My away room will be my porch, where I can go hide and watch the horses play. The other thing about a farm is that it's hard to get anybody to drive more than half an hour to visit or have a holiday dinner, when there's three feet of snow on the ground. Just in case, though, I will be able to seat six to eight comfortably.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 11:08PM
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We used our DR last night for a meal for 15 people. We extended the table 1 ft. into the kitchen to comfortably accommodate the large number and we could have extended it even further if needed. Before we removed the kitchen/DR wall, we couldn't have seated that many people (comfortably) in the DR. Also, with the wall removed, when I needed to leave the table to go to the kitchen (for extra garlic bread or ice water, to plate out the food, etc), I never had to actually leave my guests nor leave the conversation.

I continue to learn many things from my amazing MIL (through observation), including how to be a hospitable host and to focus my energy on people rather than things. Some of my absolute favorite times are having guests for dinner and enjoying their friendship through good conversation during the meal. As Richard Carlson would say, "Don't sweat the small stuff" and to me, seeing dirty dishes in the kitchen definitely falls into that category.

As lavendar lass said, open plans are not for everyone, so people need to find a layout that works best for them. But, keep in mind that there are different degrees of open plans. Having a 10 ft opening from one room to another is different than a large space that functions as 2 or 3 rooms. And, having a good ventilation system at the cooktop and oven will prevent smells from drifting into other parts of the house.

igloochic- I'm looking forward to watching your progress on the victorian house. The fun begins again!!!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Our 1910 Victorian has a wide central hall. We moved our dining chairs, china cabinet, and buffet to the hall since we only have large family dinners once or twice a year. We use the large dining room adjacent to the kitchen as a den/TV room.
After the kitchen renovation, we have plenty of room for an 8' long farm table for daily meals. For the infrequent family meals, we move the table into the hall. With a formal table cloth, centerpieces, and china, the central hall is elegant and suits the atmosphere of a Victorian home. This works for us and allows much better use of our space.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 8:04PM
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Pinkpaula, that is an interesting and practical solution. We sure would like to see pictures of your home!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Here are a few pictures of our home. The room with the braided rug is the former dining room, now our den. You can see our kitchen with the farm table, which we use every day. For large dinner parties, we move the table to the back hall (where we originally built the table---see last picture). This works for us since we never made use of our dining room.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Wow pinkpaula- what an amazing home! The light fixture in your living room is amazing, as is the huge windows, I could go on. They really don't make them like the used to.

I'd also love to see photos of people's homes, they sound amazing, with lots of character.

To toss my 2 cents into the land discussion, I live in a city, we are fortunate to have a pretty large lot for a city, but while farm conservation definitely effects us in the broader sense, it's not part of our day to day lives. I do feel sad when driving by land that once grew vegetables that now has new houses covering it. I'm also sad that when I go to the farmers market, it seems like the farms are getting further and further away from the city where I live. However, I have to confess that beyond that, I don't know as much about land conservation as I should- thanks for bringing it up country smile.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 2:14AM
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PP, nice house! The kitchen looks just right with the stained wood table in there.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 5:02PM
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Just looked at your house pinkpaula! Oh, it is a super combination of subdued victorian style, elegance and comfort. It also seems quite welcoming! I think the way you use the hallway for formal dinners is a great idea. It seems creatively resourceful and like it offers a special venue for guests at the same time. I think your home is beautiful.

I do love seeing everyone's pics!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 5:35PM
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Thank you all for your kind comments. We still have many projects to keep us busy, but the biggest renovations are finished.

After our girls married and moved, we thought about how we actually use the space in our house. We did away with the dining room and turned one of the bedrooms into my arts & crafts/computer area. My husband also paints, so we gutted the small former second kitchen at the very back of the house into an artroom/messy man cave for him. Lavendar Lass seems to be thinking about the most practical use of her space. I know it will turn out great!

I would also enjoy seeing pictures of all of your homes!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 7:05PM
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I agree with the others Paula, your house is warm and welcoming. Those tall windows must be great for allowing light to flood your rooms. Your beautiful rugs caught my eye!!! How great to make the most out of the space and make it fit your needs.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 7:34PM
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What a gorgeous home :) They just don't build them like that anymore.

I love the idea of using the hall as a dining room! Ours isn't quite that wide, but I could easily see using it as a serving area for coctail parties....the flow would be perfect...thank you for inspiring me LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 12:44AM
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We use our dining room every night with the kids. We light candles, use linen napkins (buy them on sale for $ 0.75/ea), and have background music. The kids love it and request the candles if we don't use them. A lot of times we have lunch here too. We have a kitchen table but use it for breakfast occasionally. The kitchen table is used for crafts, dinner prep and other things. When we have guests for the weekend they use the kitchen table more than us. I think I just feel cramped in the kitchen. We're undertaking a major remodel including a kitchen gut with an 8' addition for a large farmhouse table and island with seating. I think we may use the kitchen more but still use the dining room for our nightly meals.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 11:15AM
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We are empty nesters living in a 6500 sq ft Craftsman. Love my dining room! Although DH and I don't use it for ourselves, when the family is here, it's just wonderful for all 15 people to sit at the dining room table together. Had a custom table built Table opens up to 135" X 48".

Pam, how wonderful that you are establishing that tradition with your children. All children should be so lucky to have that family time.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 4:56PM
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Our home is 1790s too,We have summer kitchen is attatched to house,big fireplace that they cooked in,the kitchen was not originally in there and the kitchen that was put in there was done 1980s style,we removed it put our dining room in to the period of the home looks beautiful no one knows but us because of the restoration work done.I see nothing wrong with fixing something like this.
The land same we have 40 acres was once 240 acres,it was run down,we fenced it in ,cleaned it up,we raise texas longhorn cattle,horses.Planted fruit trees,We brought in a log cabin set it up very old,put kitchen garden beside the cabin.
The barn one of the oldest in our county was in danger of collapsing .It is post & beam,We put new roof fixed the one beam that was broke,It will stand a long time.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 10:33PM
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bulldinkie - Today is the first I read your post. Your old buildings sounds very interesting. Could you post photos of your summer kitchen that now serves as your dining room? Does it still have the big fireplace? Also, I'd love to see photos of your barn (and I know my husband would be interested in seeing photos also).

We also have a summer house - one room downstairs with wedge-shaped, narrow steps leading to the one room upstairs. The fireplace in that kitchen sounds similar to yours. Underneath the summer house there is another arch cellar (there's also one under the main house). The summer house is in bad need of repair and is on the list of things to be restored sometime in the future. Many years ago a elderly man had stopped at our farm and told me that he once lived in the summer house when he was a child. I'm still angry with myself that I didn't get his phone number and name so we could invite him for dinner and hear about his life during that time.

Our limestone barn is dated 1786 and serves as our dairy barn. The beams on the second floor of the barn are amazing - huge in length and width(?). The barn is a solid structure and should be standing for many centuries to come. It amazes me how well they built structures in the past with no heavy equipment to help in the construction.

So...can I pest you again for photos? :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 8:35PM
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Great dining room! Where do you keep all of your extra chairs when the family isn't around? Do the extra chairs match the rest of the chairs in the dining room?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 5:36PM
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Thanks, gold dust. We have some chairs in the conservatory (sun room) right off the dining room, some are used around the game table, and the rest are stored in the basement. I wish we had 15 of the mission style chairs in the picture, but we only had 6 made that matched the table. So the rest are mismatched, but that's ok with me.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 11:53PM
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I'm a little late to the game, but we use our dining room all the time. I love it! It's actually my favorite room in the house. La kola said it best, I feel peaceful went I sit there. We tend to linger longer after dinner as well. But it sounds like for your case a combined kitchen dining would work well with your house.

pinkpaula, I love what you did in your living room! I love the other pix too, but the living room is the vision I had for my living room. It looks comfortable but classy. What is the color on the walls?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Country smiles=Im from Gettysburg area,our home was owned by a col.George Himes he was in battle of Gettysburg,I have deed with his name on it.In 1800.circa 17.90.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 8:57AM
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mom2lilenj Thanks! The living room paint is Sherwin Williams Antique White #6119. The paint "reads" creamy yellow due to the drapes and the sofa fabric.

The den (former dining room)is Sherwin Williams Ecru #6135.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 3:14PM
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bulldinkie - I live about an hour away from Gettyburg so I've been there many times. I love driving through Gettysburg and seeing the old homes both in town and out in the country. (We've been at the college for a few basketball events too.) You're fortunate to have the original deed. I need to go to our local historical society and spend a day researching our homestead. Thanks for sharing your information.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 5:13AM
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IMHO a dining room is where you gather your entire family and special friends in order to reinforce bonds that are not easily maintained in today's world.

It is also the place where you teach your kids how to behave in public. I would never hire anyone without taking them to lunch first.

In many ways a dining room is the most important room in a house.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 7:34AM
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Well, we have ripped out everything in our new (1888 victorian) kitchen and put in new cabinetry. It no longer has a place to eat (save for a singe counter height stool sitting at the "bar"). Therefore, the dining room is every meal, every day unless only one person is eating (such as a single child having cereal in the morning).

I personally love formal dining rooms. In our current home (modern) we have a lr/dining combo and an eat in kitchen. We tended to use the kitchen when it was only 3 or 4 people and the dining when it was more. Because it was a combo though, it lacked the ambiance of a real dining room.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 12:06PM
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I use my dining room as a living room, my living room as a bedroom and have no place to eat except on the couch with trays. I hate it and am considering expanding my kitchen out via 5' addition so I can fit a table in there but then I would have to buy new cabinets and move all the plumbing around. sighhhhhhhhhhh...the joy of old houses.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 6:24PM
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Thank you all for taking the time to respond to this post. I was going to say that I wish I could use a formal dining room. We don't have kids, we live a good half hour from most of the family so hosting dinners are not usually an option, we don't celebrate the holidays here and it's going to cost more to keep the dining room and add on to the kitchen.

All good points, but the more I thought about it, the more they seemed like excuses. The truth is, I would love to have a formal dining room. I love the idea of sitting around a table, eating dinner, talking to friends and having the focus be the meal and the conversation (not the dishes and the mess in the kitchen). I am a messy cook. I love to cook, but I am a messy cook :)

I also dream of having "fancy" tea with friends and using the good china my grandmother gave me. I like the idea of combining the dining room with a library, lots of old books and dark wood. I could also include some tea accessories, books and tea pots, maybe some silver serving pieces.

I do need a kitchen big enough to have a table and chairs and a woodstove. Not only has it been a dream of mine to have a big farm kitchen, but with the power going out more often, having a woodstove will heat the house and allow me to cook dinner, or at the very least, boil some water.

A formal dining room is sometimes considered a luxury, but so is a clawfoot tub or an enclosed porch. Maybe they're not absolutely necessary, but they do make a house feel more like a home. Thank you all for your input!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 5:23PM
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Well, it's been almost two years, since the last post on this thread. While I started out wanting to take down a bunch of walls, recent events have me rethinking that decision. Now, I think a formal dining room and an addition to the kitchen is going to be a better solution.

So, I wanted to say thank you to everyone, who have taken the time to share their experiences on this post. I've been doing a lot of research on 1920s homes and I'm glad we've had to put the remodeling on hold. If I had been able to remodel sooner, it would have been an entirely different layout.

Now, we have the living room and dining room, in the front, a sun porch, off to the side, the kitchen with a banquette and small seating area, and a master suite added on, to the house. It's going to be a little more expensive, but I think it will end up being a much better fit, for us.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and thanks for all your help and input :)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 5:49PM
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I loved the dining room in my 1837 house, but after reaching a lifestage where we don't entertain as much (kids on their own, parents not as mobile as before) I found we were rarely using the dining room and formal living room. Instead, we were spending most of our time in the very small den/library because of the wood stove we put in the open fireplace (it smoked). When I eventually needed a home office, we turned the dining room into a den, adding a second wood stove, and turned the library into an office.
The dining room furniture went into one end of the oversized formal living room, where we have only used it once in the past 3 years.
I miss my pretty dining room, but it was a waste of real estate. We can always change it back when we sell or when our needs change.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 8:44PM
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I'm not reading the garden web these days but when I saw this post (below) I thought of you right away. I don't know for sure if you can read it without joining but there's lots of good stuff there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Old house on line

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:45PM
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One more. You really have to visit there.

Here is a link that might be useful: light blue uppers

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Pinch me- Hi! Thank you for the links. Those are great...and I love the blue :)

How have you been? Maybe stop by and visit the Smaller Homes forum...we're always having fun, over there!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Yes we do mostly every night..

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:02PM
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Bulldinkie- Thanks for the response :)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 1:20PM
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We have a rather small home; there is not even a family room. Just a kitchen, dining room and living room on the first floor. The kitchen has room to seat barely 4 so our dining room is used quite a lot; even if it's just the 2 of us having dinner.

Typically, we eat most of our meals in front of the TV in the living room. Our coffee table lifts up and becomes a small table. We never eat in the kitchen at all. There is no heat source in it (it's a very old home) so it's not particularly comfortable in the winter and secondly the room hasn't quite been finished yet (we renovated in the past year and haven't yet figured out what to do about the seating in that room; just have a basic table that has been serving as a catch-all for the small TV in the room and extra things which don't fit into the cabinets and are awaiting extra cabinets to put them in).

So, long story short is if I'm making a nicer dinner for us, we'll use the dining room. If it's something casual, it's in front of the TV. Company has to be in the dining room because there is just no room any place else! As it is I only have enough room to serve 6 anyway, although the room could probably seat 8, or maybe even 10 if I had a larger table. Which I don't. Maybe kind of on purpose. I used to love to entertain big but I bought this house with the idea of downsizing.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Sivyaleah- Thanks for the thoughtful response. We eat dinner in front of the TV some nights, too. LOL But, it is nice to have a place, out of the kitchen, to relax, visit with friends and enjoy a good meal. I'm glad you enjoy your dining room :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Reviving this - I've always liked a formal dining room, and it doesn't have to be "formal" in style. We've always used the DR except at breakfast - now that we are having a winterized porch turned into a sunroom/"nook," we may have breakfast in there more often, but I like setting the table, lighting candles, etc. for dinner every night. I can see using the sunroom/"nook" more often in the summer, when it is light, but I like the idea of a more intimate, private, cosy room the rest of the time.

Do people in open floor plans put their dishes, like special occasion dishes, or decorative majolica, or crystal or whatever, in their kitchens? We're going to have built-ins in our new DR, and I know we'll enjoy looking at all our pretty things.

Separate room = less noise (from other rooms, the vent hood, etc.), more privacy, more wall space, to us anyhow.

What do people in open floor plans do with their art, photographs, mirrors, etc? Are they all on horizontal surfaces? We have so many cool family photographs, heirloom, paintings, travel pictures, and garden pictures that already we have to rotate them in and out like an "exhibit," or else it would seem too cluttered.

Oh, and I am an extremely messy cook.

And maybe it's just old fuddy-duds who like separate rooms. Am I a fuddy-dud at 40?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 12:24AM
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My house is tiny, the kitchen is tiny. The dining room is a sort of connecting room between the living room and the kitchen, and has just enough room for a small table and two bench type seats.
For 30 years I lived in an open concept home where the living room kitchen and dining area were one big 'L' shaped room. As small as it is, I love that my dining area is separate now.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 4:17AM
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So much has happened (husband quite ill, husband getting better, husband home, but with wheel chair, then walker) that I'm starting to rethink some of my earlier ideas, for remodeling the house. (It's going to be a while, but still hoping to do it at some point!)

I've been watching Nicole Curtis and liking the living room open to dining room that she has in so many of the older homes. I really like the built-ins and fireplace (even the stained wood trim!) and I'm rethinking the living room/bedroom. The addition put the bedroom behind the living room, but it would be so easy to open them up to each other, with a big archway. The living room is 18 'x 14' and the bedroom is 18' x 13'.

It's a lot of space for an area we might no use as much as the kitchen and den, but I think it would be beautiful. And it might be a great place to overflow, when we have a lot of work to do and need more space than our home office.

So, anyone done anything similar? Have you turned a lager room into the dining room and decided to keep the smaller dining area part of the kitchen? That room is pretty small, so the current kitchen and dining room would make a great kitchen/nook area. Just not big enough for more than 4 (maybe 6) people to eat...and we have a large family!

After what's happened, I realize you can't take anything for granted and want to start hosting more holiday and family dinners, as soon as we can :)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Both of our homes, a 1920's era vernacular and 1950's era cottage have dining rooms. The 1920's home had been remodeled..or remuddled, depending on how you look at it. I quite honestly can't say for sure that there were never walls, BUT when we got it, it was mostly open to the kitchen and completely open to the liviing room. It was unique those, and definately a small house at just under 900 sq ft stuffed into a 1 3/4 story. When we recently did some remodeling to get it ready for another stint before, before we bought it) we found "shadows" on the floor that indicated it had built ins dividing the living and dinings spaces a little, like you might see in an arts and crafts bungalow. we typically used it when people came over, otherwise we ate in the living room (no kids).

The cottage may or may not have had the front portion remodeled, I can't tell for sure. It doesn't follow the floor plan of another cottage that seems to be a twin, but it may never have done so. Here, we have the dining and kitchen open to each other, with a small knee wall between them where the stove sits (this I think was added on). We also use it only occasionally, but I lvoe having it as it is, it lets a lot of light into the kitchen and makes it feel bigger-plus I enjoy the decor in it, lol.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:59PM
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In the twelve years since we remodeled the kitchen plus breakfast room into a large open kitchen plus eating area, we have not used out separate dining room for dining one single time.

We do occasionally use the table there to work jigsaw puzzles.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 10:20PM
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I grew up in a home that had a dining room. We have one now and have had it in every house. I don't know why people don't use theirs. Do they chose tables and chairs which are uncomfortable or are we afraid to hurt them? Each house I have owned has had as many steps to get to the dining room as to the breakfast room. What is it about modern life that we feel the need to shun a beautiful room? Or do we feel that it is too stuffy? Or is it the lack of the TV? My kitchen does not have one there either so that might be why using the dining room is no difficult problem. Quite frankly I like eating without seeing the mess of cooking. I have enough of that for later, lol.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 1:56PM
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I made my kitchen functional as I have a small home so I combined both dining room and kitchen together. And I am very happy because this is that only time that our family spend together.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:43AM
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We do use our dining room for eating, and I also sort mail in there. I keep bills in a drawer. I also have a file cabinet in there because there is nowhere else to put it at this time.

I like the big eat-in kitchen idea though. I don't think one is better than the other. I like a separate dining room but some like it open. What would be ideal would be to have both! I don't have space for that though.

My brother used his dining room as a living area.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 3:28PM
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I may have found a winner :)

This dining room is so pretty and is 1) not too formal for everyday, 2) not too casual, and 3) has its own identity...not just an end of the kitchen, but still connected. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

I really like this kitchen picture, too...could be the other end of the room. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Does anyone have a fireplace in their dining room? Do you enjoy it? Ours would be raised (current living room) and the space is 18' x 14', so I think it would make a great dining/keeping room. Any good/bad about the fireplace, if you have one?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 10:37PM
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