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The Difference Between Formal vs. Casual Dining Rooms

by Paige Pesko

You maintain a dining room in your home so that your family has a place to eat, but what do you do when company comes? Do you move everyone to the formal dining room, or do you extend the regular table to make more space? The difference between formal vs. casual dining rooms is that they are different rooms of the house. You might have both, or you may just have one. Keep reading to find out which type of dining room you have—or should have—in your home.

What Is a Casual Dining Room?

You often find casual dining rooms in open floor plans near the kitchen. Design a casual dining room where two or more rooms come together—such as the kitchen and living room. If you mainly use your dining room for breakfast and family meals, it is likely casual. The type of furniture you use for your dining room may also make it a casual dining space.

Eat-in Kitchens

You might consider most eat-in kitchens to be casual dining rooms. If your table is in or near your kitchen, you have an eat-in kitchen. You’d normally eat breakfast and other quick meals in an eat-in kitchen.

Bar Stool Seating

Whether you have an island in your kitchen or an extended kitchen counter, you can add bar stools to create a mini dining area. This casual style of dining is great for quick meals.

What Is a Formal Dining Room?

Your formal dining room is the space you use for special occasions. It’s separate from any of your other rooms and contains several pieces of necessary dining room furniture. Formal dining rooms are grand, and you use them when you host guests who you want to impress. In some homes, families use the formal dining room for evening meals in addition to special occasions.

Dining Room Location

The main difference between formal and casual dining rooms is their location in your home. While casual dining rooms are often out in the open and near the kitchen, formal dining rooms are typically in a separate room of their own. You might have both a casual and formal dining space in your home if your house is big enough.

Uses for Different Dining Tables

The type of dining table you place in your dining room will depend on whether the space is casual or formal. Formal dining rooms look better with darker woods, longer tables, and more chairs. Further, you should choose a sturdy wood that will last the lifespan of your home. For casual dining room tables, you can choose lighter woods or any stain that matches the rest of your home décor. Marble, stone, bamboo, and other tabletops look excellent in a casual space.

Multi-Functional Dining Room Space

Casual and formal dining rooms serve different purposes. Typically, you will only use a formal dining room for family meals and special occasions. On the other hand, your casual dining room has many different uses. In addition to having all your meals there, you can turn your casual space into a room for work or a place for your kids to study. Further, you can use your casual dining space for projects.

Mealtime Aesthetic

Formal dining rooms tend to have a more sophisticated ambiance. From the furniture to the lighting, a formal dining room represents class and style. If your entire house has a formal look, you may have an upscale casual dining space as well. Regardless, your casual dining room will be more laid back than the space in which you host special occasions.

Accessorize Your Dining Rooms

The types of accessories you choose for your dining rooms will vary depending on the space. For a casual dining room, you may choose to simply accessorize the table with a centerpiece like a bowl of fruit or flowers. The best lighting comes from natural sources. Since your formal dining room is in a separate room where you may not have any windows, you might install a chandelier over your dining table. You can also decorate the table with elaborate centerpieces and keep matching table settings available for special occasions.

Choosing Different Dining Room Furniture

The dining table and chairs you choose for your space will depend on the type of dining room you are furnishing. Your dining table will be the focal point of your formal dining room. That means you want it to stand out and look amazing. Casual dining room furniture should blend into your space and complement your existing architecture.

Dining Room Table Styles

Most formal dining tables are sturdy pieces of material that you buy in one piece. They come with the number of chairs you will need to fill all sides of the table comfortably. Formal or casual dining tables may come with benches or banquet-style seating. They’re often adjustable and may have leaves on the side to make them wider or inserts to make them longer. These tables typically come with extra chairs, but you may have to purchase additional ones. The best materials to look for in dining room furniture design include:

  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Marble
  • Mahogany
  • Glass

You don’t need to have a formal and a casual dining room in your home. Your single dining room can act as a multi-functional space for all your dining needs. Many homes have a single dining room that can function casually or formally. If you only have one spot to place a dining room table, you should aim for a convertible design. Find a table that you can use for family meals during the week and formal meals on holidays.

You create the difference between formal vs. casual dining rooms in how you style and where you locate your dining tables. A formal dining room is typically separate from the kitchen and the rest of the home, while a casual dining space can be near or in the kitchen. The décor of a casual dining space should flow with your home, while formal dining rooms should be elegant and sophisticated.

Choose durable tables that you can use for years to come when you shop at the Great American Home Store. Our wide collection is available online and in stores for you to see and feel for yourself. Stop by our furniture stores to find a dining room table and chairs for your home today.

The Difference Between Formal VS. Casual Dining Rooms