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Where do you take your dinner?

The Khantessa and I recently rearranged some of our furniture and other oddments. The chief result was that our former dining space--a modest throughway between the kitchen and living room--became my office, and my old office became our formal dining room.

I must say, I don't know why we didn't arrange it this way when we bought the house 22 months ago. The formal dining room is so much more peaceful and atmospheric, and almost mimics the ambience of a fine restaurant. And when it comes to dining, atmosphere really matters to me.

What are your household dining arrangements?

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  1. Well, our house, while over 20 years old, is a contemporary, so the majority of the main floor is just one big open cathedral-ceilinged "great room" combining one open living space separated from the kitchen by a long counter. Thus the actual living area has a dining table in one section & the sofas, chairs, tv, etc., in the other.

    So we either eat at the counter (where we have barstools set up), or at the dining table, which is just a few feet away.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bacardi1

      Our house is set up like Bacardi's, all a big great room. We eat all our meals at the dining table, with placemats and cloth napkins. We snack on the couch later, but the TV is never on during meals. Breakfast and lunch, we may read at the table, but not at dinnertime.
      My kids were raised this way, as were hubby and I.

      1. re: jmcarthur8

        Same here. Then again, there's scant little on the boob toob that interests me. Well, perhaps from an anthropological standpoint.

        1. re: jmcarthur8

          Well, here it's just hubby & I, so mealtimes are a combination of reading interspersed with conversation. :)

      2. On the couch.

        I do have a small dining room with a 4 top table but I don't know, we're pretty casual folks so we just eat on the couch. My SO often will eat upstairs and I eat downstairs, since we have vastly different tastes when it comes to most TV shows, and I like to talk talk talk throughout the meal and he doesn't like to talk at all. Sometimes we'll join each other either up or down though, and I try to keep quiet :)

        Plus, the dining table ends up being our "landing area" when coming in the house, so we would have to clear it off all the time to eat there. Too much effort.

        We do eat at the table when we have people over.

        2 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          we have tv trays set up in front of the couch that we usually sit at to have our dinners. that way we can watch a show from the DVR or on demand, and talk about our days.

          1. We eat on the couch unless we have guests. We used to use tea towels for bibs until my wife told her mother. MIL made us some adult size bibs with velcro.; )

            2 Replies
            1. re: kengk

              Us too - and I love the bib idea. My husband is SUCH a messy eater!

              1. re: kengk

                we do the same its all about being comfort, if we have guests we eat in the dining room. Some nights TV is good and worth it other times it sucks, thats when I crab at my husban we should have been more formal and ate in the kitchen.

              2. Couch, generally. I hate it, as I was raised in a "you don't take your food out of the kitchen" household.

                Our kitchen seems large until you realize that it has to function as a dining room, too. Our old drop-leaf table seems to be in the way no matter how we tried to arrange things. It currently stays folded down and the chairs are precariously stacked on the opposite side of the room. When we have company, we carry the table out to the living room and set it up at a couch.

                We don't really have a guest-friendly home. :( One of the main reasons we're trying to move.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kontxesi

                  Pretty much everything Kontxesi said goes for me too. I try to eat sometimes at the little fold out table with my son, which is where he eats, but we don't always eat as a family during the week because I might want to go to the gym or something or have plans later in the evening with a friend and don't want to eat dinner at 5pm. If I'm staying home for dinner, I eat in front of the folded table leaf, which isn't very comfy, but there is no room in the kitchen to fold out the leaf. My kid eats at the end of the table that's not shoved up into the corner. When mr. RNR and I eat together after the kid goes to bed, we eat on the couch in the living room. On the weekends, we try to have as many meals at the table together as a family as possible, including folding up the leaf and having to move the stove a little so you can get a chair in there.

                  1. re: Kontxesi

                    Same here at our apartment, Kontxesi. It's the couch for our dinners, unless it's a nicer meal that my husband's preparing -- at our small table dressed with a tablecloth, placemats, cloth napkins, and light from a single white candle. ;-)

                    Just a guess, but it really seems to be the case that architects who designed apartments from the early 1980s onward (here in Southern California, anyway) opted for the smallest possible floor plans possible. Our two-bedroom, two-bathroom digs are 820 sqare feet -- and that's Hearst Castle-esque compared with San Francisco's proposed 275 square-foot studios.

                    1. re: Dornfelder

                      Geez. The house (an old hunting cabin, I believe) I'm renting right now is supposedly 1200 sqft, but it's not designed very well. A large portion of the living room is taken up by the woodstove. If that wasn't there, I could easily move the tv area to that part of the room and put the dining table where the tv is now.

                  2. During the week, we eat in the kitchen. On Sundays, we usually have a crowd, so we move to the dining room.If we are home on a Saturday at lunchtime ( which is rarely!), we may plop down in the tv room and have a sandwich.

                    1. We have dinner at the dinner table. We've been in this ranch-style house about two years now and it has a strange setup. There's an area semi-separate from the kitchen, where every day meals happen. Adjoining this is a very large room, which holds the formal" dining room furniture in one half and a "conversational" area in the other half (coffee table, chairs. It's actually pretty convenient, because when the whole clan is over we can move the conversation furniture aside, and set both tables in the one room and seat 20+ people. The formal dining table is used only when company is over.

                      The TVs are in the 2 family rooms downstairs. We generally only eat in front of the TV for can't-miss football games. Alas, as an Eagles fan, there haven't been many of those since we moved to this house. But it still comes into play for the occasional dinner-time Penn State or Notre Dame game (I know . . .but I can't help it, I'm genetically engineered to follow those teams.)

                      1. If it's just wife and youngest child, the at the island in the kitchen, if more tha that at the dining table at the far end of the kitchen. I detest eating supper in the kitchen, but when I marroed my wife and moved into her home, she had designed it as a kitchen with a lagre eating island, and a large dining table in the kitchen. I really wanted a formal dining room, so last August, I bought a new kitchen (that is sitting in our garage. The architect has drawn the plans to enclose the stone patio off our kitchen to create a formal dining room, we are in the permit process, and hopefully by September I'll be eating supper in our new formal dining room.

                        1. Although we added plenty of space in the kitchen during a remodel, we eat in our "formal" dining room. Chandelier, round table, breakfront. I never really thought of it as so "formal" before...but yeah it is. It has great sun (leaded glass doors/windows) and lovely molding. I like real silver and cloth napkins too, so I suppose I am kind of an old fuddy duddy. Oh, we do eat pizza on the couch in the den on Friday Sci Fi TV nights.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Solo diner. Majority of the time sitting in a chair in front of the tv. On the few occasions I sit at the dining room table I turn the tv in the other room so I can still watch and eat. Small kitchen so no room for a table there.

                            1. With just two, it is much cozier to eat at the kitchen table than in the formal (seats 8) dining room. Although if meetings or events mean it is just one for dinner, the site is often in front of the TV in the den.

                              1. Our kitchen is eat-in so we can seat up to 5 for cozy dinners. If it is just the two of us we sit on the banquette that seats two on the side of the table that faces our built in fireplace/TV--we watch news, cooking shows and a few favorite programs. More than 5 and we go outside in nice weather and eat at the big table, when it is cool we eat in the dining area of the living room or rearrange things and more the table, with all its leaves, in front of the fireplace. Especially nice at Xmas time if it is chilly.

                                1. I live in a studio with my husband, and we have two dining tables... A normal one in the "dining nook" by the kitchen, and a floor table in front of the TV. When we eat certain Asian foods (hot pots, okonomiyaki, anything that's communal cooking) we eat at the floor table. Everything else is eaten at the dining nook.

                                  1. Eating at the kitchen table is the norm here for us. We would never consider eating on the couches because we were raised differently I guess. I have a TV mounted in the kitchen so nobody would miss a minute of their favorite show.

                                    1. Another solo diner here. I sit at my kitchen bar for most meals. Or on the living room couch with a tv table if there's something good on tv. At the dining table only happens when I have company.

                                      1. We live in a rectangular townhouse. The main living space has both seating area and dining table. The kitchen, adjacent, also has a small table. If the 4 of us are eating, we use the kitchen table. If we are 2 or 3, we use the kitchen counter/bar. No TV on the main floor at all.

                                        Oh, and if I'm gone, it is a 99% certainty that DH and kids will be eating pizza downstairs in the TV/family room.

                                        1. Kitchen is too small to eat in. Dining room table usually only gets used with company. Since it's just the two of us, we usually sit in the living room on the couch. We also have a lift-top coffee table so that works well as our "dining table".

                                          1. Usually in the living room, on the couch.

                                            I was also raised in a "you eat at the (dining) table family, but you know what? As an adult, in my own home, this is how I prefer to eat.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                              I prefer it too, but now having a kid, I inexplicably feel guilty and have noticed my husband and my internal "eat dinner at the dining table" instinct is kicking in. If the baby's sleeping over my mealtime though, I'll still migrate to the couch.

                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                Good point. We don't have kids-- I wonder if I'd make a point to eat at the dining table if I did.

                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                  I feel sure that we would eat at the table if we had kids. My wife and I were both raised that way. We would probably eat in the kitchen if we had a place to. The sofa is just more comfortable and cozy than the formal dining room.

                                                  1. re: kengk

                                                    Maybe I am less adept than others, but I've never been comfortable cutting things on my plate with a knife, if I'm not sitting upright at the table.

                                                    Ex-DH and I always ate at the table, too, in all the 12 years before we had kids. So it was no big deal to have family dinners together there every night as the boys were growing up.
                                                    Now the kids are all grown and gone, and DH#2 and I still sup at the dining table. It just feels funny to do it any other way...I guess that's the way others feel about eating at their dining room table. It just doesn't feel natural to them.

                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                      Growing up we would never eat outside of the kitchen table, even after marage and kids we always ate in the kitchen or diningroom. Now the kids are gone we find ourselves eating in the family room watching tv. Cut up the big stuff on your plate ahead of time and you are good to go. Its nice to be older and do what you want and don"t care what others think.

                                                      1. re: catface1

                                                        That's why we love the lift-top coffee table so much. You can lift it up, cut on it, put it down when you are done and don't have to open up TV trays.

                                                  2. re: LeoLioness

                                                    we never ate at the table in 8 years of being together until we had a kid.

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                      I'm sure you would. If you didn't care about modeling "proper" behavior, you'd surely care about the hellacious mess junior would surely make.

                                                2. Kitchen table or dining table. We have a formal dining room but don't use it, since it's pretty small for my long farm-style dining table, which I love. We almost never eat in front of the TV, which is in the basement. If I'm eating alone I eat at the counter in the kitchen with my computer open, often reading CH message boards!

                                                  Soon, hopefully, we'll be combining our tiny kitchen with the formal dining room for an awesome super-kitchen!

                                                  1. We had always eaten at our coffee table in the living room before we moved because out dining room was basically the dumping ground. Tomorrow our kitchen table and dining room table arrive. I have asked that we take our meals from now on at the kitchen table for the most part. It was met with some resistance but I think in the long run this will improve the atmosphere of dinner.

                                                    1. In the living room, at a coffee table and tv table, respectively, but I don't care for the arrangement, probably because it isn't what I grew up with.

                                                      We used our tiny dining room only for holiday guests, but used our tinier kitchen table for breakfast and dinner when I was growing up, and I miss the dinner table conversation.

                                                      Nowadays, H hasn't much desire to converse until he's fed and has watched TV for a couple of hours, so I accommodate that.

                                                      1. I'm quite surprised at how many are saying they eat on the couch/in the living room. I thought I'd be the odd one out!

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                                          I'm surprised at how many people eat supper while watching the toob, although I suppose I shouldn't be. I'm assuming the respondents to this thread are on the young side.

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            My fiance's father eats NO WHERE but in front of the tv, and it's a habit that he's picked up. There is a lot of "dinner and a movie" going on at my house right now.

                                                            Once we move and actually have a table that's easy to sit at, hopefully it will change. (I can't hear properly when I'm chewing! It's no fun.)

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                I think too that sometimes dinner habits vestige of how you spent most of your dinner years...either an embracing of whatever tradition or a rebellion. As a bachelor for many many years, H watched tv either alone or with his bro during the "dinner" hour (usually delivery something), whereas for many years, the kitchen was the epicenter of all social activity in my (tiny) house. He's miserable if I try to make conversation with him when he's tired and hungry, so it's easier for me to eat with the tv on than for him to attempt to be human until he's fed and decompressed a bit.

                                                                Anything to keep the peace, Khan.... :-)

                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                  I don't see why so many people think breaking bread with the TV on akin to the decline of Western civilzation. Maybe if dinner was on the table at 6pm, I'd be more inclined to consume it on the dining table rather than the coffee table. But considering I usually eat after 8, yeah, I like to catch up with "my stories" (or the ballgame) too.

                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                    I'm middle aged. I agree with the below poster, I don't see why this is some tragic breakdown of the american family. I *hated* being forced to sit around the table and eat together as a family when I was a kid. While we do try to eat at the table as a family on the weekends with the child since he's a child and all, what he really loves are the rare times we allow a "picnic" where he gets to eat in front of the TV on the floor on a blanket or whatever for crumbs. We try to keep that to once a week or once every other week so it's still "special," but it feels a little hypocritical forcing everyone to eat at the table when nobody really wants to.

                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                      It's a sign of the times. The TV and other electro/info-technology have practically replaced human interaction. Videogames and whatnot have virtually--double entendre intended--replaced mommy and daddy. This weakens family ties, and I am convinced it is profoundly unhealthy for society in general. But parents still have the ability to resist these influcences, if they have the will and desire. If not, oh well...

                                                                      But tying this more to CH specifically, I'm surprised that people who take their food and cooking so seriously, are so willing to be distracted from same by the banal dreck which constitutes 90% of TV programming. Seems like if you're really crazy about your vittles and their preparation, you should want to enjoy them sitting around the table with those you love. But, hey, I'm an old-fashioned guy, and am just not down wit' da' kidz.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        'Banal dreck' can describe a lot of dinnertime conversations, too. Just saying.

                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                            My food tastes better to me sitting on a comfy leather couch in front of the fire than it does sitting on a hard, straight backed, chair in our cold dining room.

                                                                            I'm 52 by the way.

                                                                            1. re: kengk

                                                                              That's why the plans for our new formal dining room include a gas fireplace. the dining chairs are wide, well upholstered and super comfy................(at $600 per chair wholesale they'd better be). Oh the joys of having a designer for a wife. She designs and I pay.

                                                                            2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                              Hey, whatever makes folks happy. I think that those of us who enjoyed the social aspect of chatting around the kitchen table while growing up (I remember lingering and drinking "coffee" with my parents...actually a drop of coffee in warm milk) miss that interaction when it goes. But I can only speak for me. But I do hear you, Khan, and I trend towards old fashioned meself.

                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                Gotta weigh in on this. When the kids were little, dinner time was sacrosanct. We had a huge great room kitchen/dining area and always ate there. By the time they were in high school and involved in after school practices and I went back to work, we were hit and miss. Life became much more casual. The TV trays came out and, except for week-ends most family meals were in the living room. When the kids got married they went back to dining at the table and their children are required to be civilized and "unplugged" at meal time. It's DH and I who have become addicted to our mobile devices. :-) Meals are eaten in the living room where we chat or are online, often with the news on TV. I regret it sometimes but we're pretty set in our ways.

                                                                            3. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                              My husband and I are both retired. Though I would never eat sitting on the couch--meal, snack or otherwise--we do watch TV while eating.

                                                                          2. We eat at the kitchen table. Eating with our food on a TV table will happen one day in a nursing home.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. We have both a "formal" dining room and a cozy "nook" off the kitchen.

                                                                              For every day family meals when its just the 3 of us we always eat in what we call the "breakfast nook". It's more intimate and lends itself to smaller groups.

                                                                              When we have company we always eat in the dining room regardless of whether the meal is casual or formal. There is more room and I can set the tone with how the table is set/decorated.

                                                                              For family movie nights, game nights with friends and the like we might eat of the big coffee table in the family room.

                                                                              1. Mostly in the kitchen but during the summer months, weather permitting, at our dining table on the deck.

                                                                                Our kitchen has a large dining area with a lovely view and we normally eat at the kitchen dining table (always set since I collect linens and tableware and love setting the table for a meal). During the winter months its dark out when we have dinner so sometimes we watch tv during our meal. Otherwise, we have background music on and take in the view from our kitchen windows.

                                                                                We do have a breakfast bar with seating as well but it faces into the kitchen vs the windows so that only tends to get used when we have company and they want to sit and chat while I finish up w any last minute meal prep.

                                                                                Dinner time is usually our time to catch up on the day so we tend not to have the tv on. That said, we do have a tv in the kitchen and if we've already caught up and/or there's something special we want to watch, we have that option as well. I have no issue with tv during meals but I might if it was being used as a proxy for conversation.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                  Good point about fine weather! We rarely eat our meals indoors during the summer months. We have a gorgeous grape arbor that I like to entertain under or use when the sun is too hot. We have an umbrella table out by the pool as well as a long picnic type table under a large oak tree in the side yard.

                                                                                2. We are minimalists and have a strong aversion to furniture. We have two dining areas, a formal and a casual. We use the casual space for a reading/music area, with a large, single round chair and a lamp. The formal area is left as open, empty space, which we find soothing and peaceful.

                                                                                  Due to our conflicting schedules, our dinners are also date/movie night, so our meals are taken on our couch with the Netflix documentary list.

                                                                                  1. At the coffee table. It sets a terrible example for the cats but they act like animals most of the time anyway...

                                                                                    1. I live alone and eat most dinners solo. When it's just me, I sit on the couch with a tray and watch TV. If i have people over, then we sit at the table and the TV is off (unless people are over for a TV-centric event, like an Oscars party).

                                                                                      Growing up, we ate every meal together as a family, at the table, no TV. Around the time I started high school, we stopped eating at the table. I was the only kid left at home, and we moved to a new house that only had space for a formal dining table, no casual breakfast/dinner nook. We started eating on the couch in the living room, and were inclined to watch TV (usually something on PBS, and were talking to each other throughout). I have lots of fond memories of meals with my family, and know that I've benefited a lot academically and professionally from the conversations, so I'm inclined to do the same if/when I have kids.

                                                                                      1. At this point, hubs and I eat in the living room. In this third house we have a formal dining room and except for the first year or so - when the kids were still around - we had to eat in there. Old house, galley kitchen not eat-in. Now, he and I end up in the living room. I sit at my desk, he's on the sofa. We're news junkies, and political junkies at that. I get home from work late (political job) and have just enough energy to cook dinner. No energy to remove the stuff from the dining room table - which gets all the mail, odd bits. So, we're in the living room. I multi-task while eating: dinner, laptop, tv, reading.

                                                                                        Sad, because I adore cooking and have a vast assortment of great cookware.

                                                                                        We do use the dining room when guests are over. Gives me a good reason to sweep the table.

                                                                                        1. There are just two of us now and I decide where we eat! I am our family "iron chef" and each weekday meal is an adventure, we have a lot of fun. Where we eat is based on the theme of the dinner and the mood. Summer is outside most of the time. The rest of the year is inside, mostly at the small 4top just off the kitchen. Some nights I set a mood in the formal dining room (8top) and some nights it is in the rec/game room on t.v. trays. We have a full bar, pool table and big screen in there for when the private party mood hits us old farts! Dinner always involves drinks and candles. Often fresh flowers and selected music. It is our time to relax and enjoy the good things in life...each other! We work very hard in our own private practice and look forward to our evening dinner and drinks every day.

                                                                                          1. my favorite place to take dinner is at a restaurant.
                                                                                            this is the main reason i will never willingly move to a rural area that doesn't have plenty of restaurants.
                                                                                            my adult daughter, who lives with me and works 12hr and 24 hour shifts, likes to bring her food to bed and zone out with her computer in bed.
                                                                                            with her schedule, i don't protest.

                                                                                              1. Dining room for all meals. Except pizza, which for some reason is permissible to eat in the TV room, which is connected to the kitchen, unlike the dining room (it's a weirdly built house). The kitchen's actually big enough to eat in, but we don't.