The May issue of House Beautiful includes a very pretty 1930s apartment in New York, decorated by Christina Murphy. The rooms are filled with color and pattern - sometimes more than I'd actually want to live with, but I love looking at the pictures.
I especially like the dining room, with its delicate wallpaper and chairs of silver and shocking green:
You know what else I love about the dining room? The small seating area under the window. The decorator says, "It's such a large room and to devote the whole thing to just dining felt like a waste of space. It's a bit more of an intimate space to sit in than the living room. I've done this now in three different dining rooms in New York."
Later in the article, she expands the thought, "Less formal, more realistic. I don't think anybody feels that there's anything inferor about having dinner in a room that's not entirely devoted to dining." She says the space should be able to adapt to big parties, but that these cozy corners are perfect for real, day-to-day life, when a couple friends drop by.
Which is much more common than big parties.
Day-to-day life is exactly what we were thinking of when we swapped our dining room and living room. The dining room was actually a nook in the kitchen - when we worked with our architect to design our addition,
we asked for a dining room/kitchen combo.
I was more shocked than anybody to find that not only did we not use that open dining room, I kind of hated it. Invariably, one of two things happened: either we had friends over casually and there weren't enough good places to sit, or we had a fancy dinner that ended with everybody staring at the dishes in the sink, since it was fully visible from the dining table.
So two summers ago, we decided to go for the swap (at the same time, we bought an amazing round dining table). While it's a little odd that when you walk in our front door, you're standing in the dining room, it's worth it. We eat in the dining room every night now and when friends are over for dinner, we can sit around the table talking, without the pressure of dirty dishes looming over the party.
Plus, now we have this, the lounge:
That's in the kitchen (and it's an old photo - these days the flat surfaces are a little more
dressed up and we have a cool Danish chair in the corner).
We call it the lounge and we use it constantly, to read, to hang out, to chat with friends.
So, sofas in the dining room? Yep, I'm on board.