Luxury Living Entertaining must-haves, dining rooms still offer utility

November 26, 2018

Generally speaking, homebuyers today are said to appreciate open floor plans to more partitioned, strictly defined interiors. They tend to lean toward turnkey possibilities as they home shop, over more labor-of-love and labor-intensive fixer-uppers. They look for lots and acreage that require little or manageable maintenance.

Today’s homebuyers are also believed to value more intimate, casual interiors over the traditionally formal spaces once in vogue with Greenwich residents. Some may find themselves pondering the importance and value of a formal dining room.

“I work with several builders and when it comes to a dining room we always have discussions on how to make this room in the house festive, inviting and user friendly,” Houlihan Lawrence Realtor Jaimme Pudalov said. “Buyers want a large dining room; a lot of the time, bay windows in the room [help to] accommodate the extra space needed for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Pudalov is currently representing the seller of 14 West Lane, a 2013 custom-built European-inspired estate on 7.87 acres. Here, the formal dining room and chef’s kitchen are complemented by a butler’s pantry.

“Extensive butler’s pantries are a key to a great entertaining in the dining room,” Pudalov noted. “Buyers today look for a clean, expansive look for the dining room and additional built-in cabinetry space in the butler’s pantries, where you can find a second dishwasher, ice maker, wine cooler, cappuccino machine, tons of additional space to display holiday china, and counter space in prep for serving.”

During formal or big-gathering occasions at 14 West Lane, the hosts can bring in professional catering help, utilizing the kitchen and butler’s pantry while the guests remain pampered, entertained and nourished — unaware of the hustle and bustle behind the scenes.

“At 14 West Lane you have it all — an extensive butler’s pantry with all of the listed above items and pocket doors — and the dining room itself, with gorgeous custom lighting, in-wall speakers, bay windows and hardwood flooring with decorative inlay. It is the first room you see as soon as you enter the magnificent foyer. Typically for any luxury home, the formal dining room and living room are the first rooms that people see when entering the house.”

A formal dining room should be both a pleasing backdrop and practical space.

“While some buyers abide by the theory that today’s more casual lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to formal living and dining spaces, most realize that having a proper dining room is important, especially for buyers in the luxury market,” Marijane Bates Hvolbeck said. A broker with Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, and the co-listing Realtor (with Brad Hvolbeck) for 781 Lake Avenue, she understands a buyers desire to have a functional, comfortable space, and also a pleasing and memorable décor.

“A formal dining room does not have to be decorated with antiques and delicate fabrics that are not ‘user friendly.’ Grand and comfortable are not mutually exclusive,” she explained. “The décor sets the tone.”

Hvolbeck described the formal dining room at 781 Lake Avenue — listed for $8.975 million — as “beautifully proportioned,” and said that her clients have hosted both intimate dinner parties and large holiday gatherings there, with 20 or more guests at times. “The wood-burning fireplace in this dining room creates a festive atmosphere, and dual French doors open to a large stone entertaining terrace,” she pointed out.

Perfectly proportioned

Ideally, the size of a home’s dining room should be proportionate to the rest of the interiors and overall architecture.

“When a home is 4,000 square feet, open living and dining rooms are a great way to utilize space,” Danielle Scialpi-Malloy remarked by way of email. Scialpi-Malloy is the senior vice president of residential sales with Real Living Five Corners Properties in Greenwich, and the listing agent for 35 Close Road, a grand Greenwich estate on 5.29 acres, with 300 feet of water frontage on Wilshire Lake.

“When homes reach the 7,000- to 8,000-square-foot plus range, every room tells its own story,” Scialpi-Malloy said. “Grand dining experiences cannot be overlooked; many have made memories in family photo albums and history books alike.”

As a homebuyer, determining how important a formal dining room is to your overall wish list can be narrowed based on a few considerations, Scalpi-Malloy suggested.

“I think the size and functionality of at-home entertaining events is something to consider,” she explained. “Are you the sole cook of a full-course meal? Do you cater your own events? Buffet style or formal sit-down? What is the average attendance? There are many things to consider.”

Of course the design and décor of a formal dining room creates the setting, mood and ambiance for those special occasions.

“The dining room at 35 Close Road has opulence and fluidity specially built into its design,” the listing broker said of the $12 million listing.

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