For several decades following the end of World War II, kitchens were planned as strictly functional spaces were a single cook prepared meals and then did the cleanup afterward. In one of the biggest changes in terms of home design over the last 40 years, this solitary space has been expanded and opened to allow for greater numbers of people to interact and help with cooking, as well as to be entertained.
In addition to changing the footprint of the kitchen and the dining room, the combination of these spaces has lead to a change in the level of formality of dining furniture as the more relaxed atmosphere of the larger space is often better suited for a more casual style. This trend is due in part to the fact that when the dining area exists in the same open space as the kitchen, it should be designed in a manner that complements the style of the room as a whole. Generally speaking, the style in this type of space will probably be more casual than formal, in keeping with the work-oriented design of the kitchen area.
Having a shared space with the kitchen, however, doesn’t eliminate the possibility of formal furniture working in an open space, but may require some creativity to avoid setting up a disconnection where the two sides don’t look like they belong together. To make a formal setting work, you’ll want to add some common touches between the two areas to provide a visual connection, which can be accomplished by using similar wood tones and colors in both sides of the room. Another idea that can connect the spaces is using accent pieces that tie the styles together, such as placing an item in the kitchen area with the same lines/profile as the dining area furniture and a kitchen-related décor piece in the dining area.
Dining areas have progressively become more casual in their style as open spaces become more popular. The flip side of this trend is that dining rooms appointed with formal settings are more commonly found in rooms that have some physical separation from other spaces. If, however, your preference is for formal pieces, be sure to add elements that give a cohesive feel to the space as a whole.