Dining Through the Ages

dining room

The holidays have arrived, and we’ll all be spending time in dining rooms for the next several weeks. A well-appointed dining room is both functional and beautiful, encouraging relaxation and companionship, as well as the enjoyment of our food. The dining room is a relatively new idea, however. When people first began to inhabit built dwellings, they shared a common room for sleeping, cooking, and eating, and sometimes, invited their barnyard companions to share the space with them.

Doorway into the hill in lower austria

The idea of a separate dining room began, according to historians, with the ancient Greeks, who gathered on stone or wood couches (men only!) to eat honey cakes and chestnuts in seclusion. The ancient Romans had a separate room called the triclinium for their meals, but women were invited.

A dining room-kitchen inside a medieval castle.

By the Middle Ages, wealthier people were eating in dining rooms, but comfort was still out of reach in the large, drafty halls. As the Industrial Revolution brought increased prosperity to the populace, more people could enjoy the benefits of a separate room for formal dining, along with silver cutlery, delicate china, and linen tablecloths. Author Bill Bryson, in his book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, says that when Thomas Jefferson put in a dining room at Monticello, it was quite a dashing thing to do. Elsewhere, meals were still being served at little tables in any convenient space.

An image of a dining room and fireplace in a primitive colonial style reproduction home. The home is built with materials reclaimed from structures built in the late 1700's. The styling is authentic primitive colonial, with modern amenities added to make the home functional and comfortable for a modern family. The furniture and decor are antiques fro the late 18th century.

So in honor of the holiday and the meals we’ll enjoy there, here’s to our dining rooms! And here are a few of my favorite Dujardin-designed dining rooms for you to enjoy.

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The table is a 20th century reproduction of an 18th century Irish lacemaker’s worktable, surrounded by a rare set of American spindle back chairs with their original black paint. 

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A wrought iron and rock crystal chandelier brings elegant light to this comfortable space.

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Hermes orange is this homeowner’s favorite color!

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The farmhouse table is surrounded by black-painted Windsor chairs. The hanging light fixtures are contemporary versions of 19th century Colonial “smoke bells,” designed to keep the candles from blowing out and smoke from marking the ceiling. 

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The hand painted floor is striking and adds another layer of interest to this beautiful room.

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The dining corner in this New York City apartment was created with curving walls and a dropped ceiling. The solid walnut table is by Hellman-Chang.

photos 88 old saugatuck 002 (2) copy This is my dining room in Connecticut, where I’ll be serving Thanksgiving dinner to my family. Wherever you spend yours, I hope it’s a safe and happy one!

 

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