Does A Dining Room Have To Be Next To The Kitchen?

With space at a premium in many homes, you may be having a hard time finding a good spot for a dining room in your layout. If so, the obvious question might be, does the dining room have to be next to the kitchen anyway? Is there really any rule?

A dining room can be located anywhere in the house; however, it is commonly near the kitchen since eating food in close proximity to where it is prepared offers many functional advantages such as saved time, less mess, and convenience.

Keep reading to learn about dining rooms - the size, the location, and even the decor. Also, if you don't have space for a formal dining room, learn how you can blend both the eating and serving of food into one space called an eat-in kitchen. Let's get to it, shall we?

Contemporary minimalist interior of kitchen and dining room. White furniture with utensils and dinner table with chairs in Scandinavian style. Modern light. - Does A Dining Room Have To Be Next To The Kitchen?

Where Should A Dining Room Be Located In A House?

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A contemporary kitchen with open concept design and bar counter in a modern home

Dining rooms are, traditionally, in a space adjacent to the kitchen. Having a separate room for dining with its own doors allows the homeowners to entertain guests at dinner without any interruption, distraction, or noise from the kitchen. For instance, the noise of a dishwasher or the clanking of silverware. 

By removing the dining room from the kitchen activity, but keeping it nearby, food can be served easily between the two rooms.  It's convenient to clean up and there's less risk of spills. It also makes it easy to fetch any forgotten items from the kitchen. In addition, there is no time lost carrying food that is growing cold around the house.

However, in modern times, space is a tight commodity in many houses. Eating sit-down meals in a formal dining room is not a tradition in every family. For this reason, dining rooms have evolved. They may not always be stand-alone rooms, as that space may be better used in another way.

Some house designs have an eating area located in the kitchen itself, such as an eat-in kitchen. They may or may not have a formal dining room in addition to that space. These rooms are part of the kitchen as it's preferable and convenient. Food that is prepared and then eaten in spaces next to each other is simply easier.

What Is An Eat-In Kitchen?

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Luxury white kitchen and dining room in a large house

As implied by the name, an eat-in kitchen is a specifically designed kitchen that integrates the eating space into a part of the kitchen itself. This is a less formal space, as people sit and eat in the same area where the food is prepared. This style of kitchen increased in popularity throughout the 1990s to its current peak. The rise of eat-in kitchens corresponds with the rise in demand for houses with open floor plans.

The eating space can be as large as a separate table, or as small as a counter with stools. If you're interested in adding a small eating space to your kitchen, such as a breakfast bar, check out this article: How Much Should A Breakfast Bar Overhang?

Eat-in kitchens may be the only eating space, or they may exist in addition to a formal dining room. When there are 2 spaces available for eating, most people use the eat-in kitchen for less formal meals such as breakfast.

Some households may reserve their dining room for nightly dinners or only use the formal dining room when entertaining company. If you find that your dining room table is frequently out of use, consider reading: How to Decorate a Dining Table [When It’s Not in Use].

What Is A Good Size For A Dining Room?

Traditional Finnish Kitchen.

The average size for a dining room in newly built homes is 12x16 feet. This allows for 6-8 people to fit comfortably, depending on the furnishings in the room. 10x12 feet is considered the "minimum" space for a dining room.

If you're decorating your dining room and need some ideas, try reading: How To Fill Empty Space In Dining Room [5 Awesome Ideas!]

How To Make Room In A Small Eating Space

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If your dining room is too small for your taste, there are some tricks. These can also help in a small eat-in kitchen or other combined floor plans where space comes at a premium. By using these tips, you'll get the most out of the room that is available:

  • Use furniture that is rearrangeable when not in use - for example, chairs that stack or fold up.
  • Avoid cabinets, as they are bulky and take up a lot of space. Instead, install floating shelves that fit precisely in the space that is available.
  • Use a bench for seating more than one person at the table. A bench takes up less space than multiple chairs. Or, even better, use a bench that offers storage underneath. 
  • Decorate with a large mirror. It's just a trick, but it works. The light reflected by the mirror opens up the room and makes it seem bigger.
  • Pick furniture that isn't overpowering for the space - for example, a table and chairs with thin legs.

Should The Kitchen And Dining Room Be The Same Color?

Dining room, kitchen, healthy food and stylish design. Bright apples on plate on table, white chairs, blue kettle, colored cups and utensils on furniture, small refrigerator, range hood, light walls

You can decorate your kitchen and dining room in any color you like! Whether connected or separated, you don't have to use just one color for the kitchen and the dining room. In fact, especially in connected rooms, it can help to define each space as a separate area by using colors that coordinate, but don't necessarily match.

The most important thing is that you bring a sense of unity to the house. It doesn't matter what colors you choose for each room. However, there should be a sense that all of the rooms work together as part of an overall decor. 

How To Decorate With Different Colors

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If you don't want your kitchen and dining room to match, it's not too difficult to decorate and still come out looking nice. Some advice is:

  • Select and stick to one color palette. Pick 3-5 colors and use those to create a sense of flow throughout the whole space. 
  • Repeat your favorite elements throughout both the kitchen and dining room.
  • To create a pleasing look, try using colors for small details that contrast with the larger colors used for floors and walls.

In Summary

A contemporary kitchen with open concept design and bar counter in a modern home, Does A Dining Room Have To Be Next To The Kitchen?

While a dining room and kitchen don't technically have to be next to each other, they typically are. Putting a dining room and kitchen in an adjoining space is practical and convenient. Since one room is for eating food and the other is for preparing it, it simply makes sense. By keeping them together, it saves time, makes clean up convenient, reduces spills, and keeps food from getting cold before it can be served.

A contemporary kitchen with open concept design and bar counter in a modern home, Does A Dining Room Have To Be Next To The Kitchen?

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