Reimagining “Formal” Living Spaces

July 21, 2021

The last few years have seen an evolution in space planning. Formal spaces are making a comeback, and we’re here for it. Our in-house Stagg Design Stylist, Melissa, is sharing her thoughts on formal spaces in the home, and while some may say formal living spaces are outdated, we think they are proving to be just the opposite.

Q: Formal living and dining spaces were on the way out. Do you think they are making a comeback?

A: I think they are definitely coming back in the design world.  People are returning to an appreciation of separate, designated spaces especially after being stuck inside the home during the pandemic.  I think having a beautiful dining table clear of your kids’ homework and your latest sewing project sounds ideal to so many.

Q: What in your opinion, makes a living or dining space “formal”?

A: I think formal rooms denote a sense of purpose. These rooms are reserved for specific purposes such as hosting guests or visitors or used for special occasions or functions.

Q: What trends are you seeing right now in terms of formal dining rooms?

A: Separate formal dining rooms seem to be a room people are now keeping in an older home while they renovate.   Many now are even incorporating this room into a new build.  The grand open great rooms are still trendy but the separate dining rooms are making a comeback for sure.  I’m seeing a mix of styles in these rooms,  particularly mixing modern styles with antiques and older pieces you perhaps would find in your grandparent’s home.  It helps a space feel authentic and lived in.  I think people are really gravitating towards that feeling in a home.

Q: How about trends for formal living rooms?

A: I think the trend for formal living rooms is similar to that of formal dining rooms, more people are liking that idea of having a room clear of the clutter that can host the surprise visitor or monthly book club without having to stash away the kid’s toys, books and such. Again, the trend I see in these rooms is a mix of modern and old, bringing character and authenticity to the space.

Stagg Reno

Q: How do you strike a balance between beauty and function when it comes to formal living spaces (living room, dining room, etc.)?

A: Find furniture pieces that are comfortable. The amazing thing with furniture today is there are beautiful pieces that are also very comfortable. If you still need to store items in your formal room, hide them in beautiful furniture pieces such as an antique etagere or an ottoman with storage inside. For the items that can’t be hidden, make sure those items are aesthetically pleasing to the space. Keep the space aesthetically put together and organized – it is what will make the space feel formal as well as comfortable.

Q: What is the biggest thing to keep in mind when designing a formal living or dining space?

A: The biggest thing to keep in mind is to design for your lifestyle. Just because it’s a “formal” space does not mean you need fancy crystal glasses at an arms reach for your children to break, or have decorative pieces that are very precious or expensive. Formal doesn’t have to mean fancy. Formal rooms shouldn’t have to be a museum. Formal simply means the space can be reserved for special occasions and guests. So keep that in mind while designing your space. How do you want your guests to feel while in that space? What do you want them to see or not see in that space? Who are your guests? Could any of them be children? What will you be doing in that room? You don’t want guests or your own family to not feel comfortable going into these spaces. That would defeat the purpose of having these rooms in your home. Ideally, a home should be beautiful but also, most importantly, comfortable.

So what say you? Do you love the return of “formal” spaces in the home? Tell us below! We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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We're a full-service design firm and home furnishings shop built around the philosophy that a well-designed home should be beautiful, personal, cohesive, and complete. We think home is the most important place on the planet and when you live in a home that is perfectly you, it changes your life. Don't believe us? Stick around. We're confident we'll change your mind.

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