The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

Follow my personal profile here on Google+ for LOTS of fresh content! Google+




Subscribe by Email


houzz interior design ideas

Follow on Bloglovin

Interior Design Blogs
Kitchen Design


Our webshop of handmade Scandinavian rugs and ceramics


Scandinavian inspired, warmly modern kitchens


Custom kitchen design by Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS

« KBIS Sneak Peeks | Main | Around the Kitchen Interwebs »

Do You Serve Dinner?

A funny thing happened last night at our house around dinner time. My husband called me for dinner (of course I was in my office staring at my monitor).

I go upstairs to the kitchen and what do I see but my husband making a plate for himself of the foods we are having for dinner. What was different about that scene was that he was doing it sort of buffet style, and the dishes that held the main food items were on the kitchen countertop.

I stopped and cried "I can't believe you're doing that! Why have we not done this before now?!" He didn't have an answer. So, we filled our plates and walked over to sit in the family room area and had our dinner. I went on and on about it for another few minutes (was he listening?) I was thrilled!

Have you yawned at this piece yet? In our case, our kids are grown and up until last night (mostly) we've walked all the dishes, serving dishes, beverages, condiments, yadayada to the table and then walked all of these things back to the kitchen after dinner.

Is it a chore to do that? Well, not really, but doing a buffet style dinner seems SO much easier, convenient, time saving, and just less laborious "feeling." When the kids were growing up, we always ate dinner at the table with all the accompanying stuff. But, now with the two of us (our son still living with us doesn't often eat with us) why not make it easier??

I was so excited at this new way of streamlining the process, I called my daughter and told her about this light bulb moment enthusiastically, to which she replied, "We do that all the time for dinner" (she and her husband.)

A bigger issue might be...it is important to anticipate this dinner time behavior and consider designing a kitchen around it. A good question to ask...

What about you? Dinner on the table or buffet style? My vote at this point in my life is buffet, baby!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

I definitely think this is a lifestyle question that needs to be asked when designing a kitchen. As you pointed out in your own life, as your children have gotten older your lifestyle has changed. It is not uncommon for families with children in high school to not have dinner together due to their chidlren's after school schedules. Yet, when children are in elementary and middle school having dinner together seated at the island or seated at a dinner table is more the norm. So glad the buffet style dinner has brought you so much joy!

Hmm... I feel like a "buffet" style dinner is the slippery slope to eating sitting on the sofa in front of the tv. Then, you're losing the "community" nature of a meal. On the other hand, I wonder if one would not be tempted to overeat if seconds aren't staring at you. On the third hand, I live alone and always do my meals "buffet" style, and it doesn't stop me from getting up for seconds. Unfortunately, the seconds are usually eaten standing up in the kitchen... On the fourth hand, I'd be worried if one had kids that you'd end up feeling like the cook in the kitchen if you had to keep going in to get them their seconds... I guess I just don't know!

This definitely is a lifestyle question! Our kitchen is open to the dining area (no eat-in kitchen either) and we always eat at the table. That table is kind of the center of the home, as we do a lot of activities there, e.g. commenting on your blog right now. Like Linda, I feel that not gathering at the dining table may end up on the sofa watching TV while eating. I'm not really prone to it, but my husband is. There's always some interesting round to watch on the golf channel ... LOL

April 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

We always eat at the table... however I have always served buffet style on the kitchen island from the time my kids were very young. Somehow it seemed to offer a little more independence and freedom of choice. My kids are older now... and we still eat at the table, but serve ourselves from the island. It is much easier to serve and clean up. This could have an impact on kitchen design... but I feel I could improvise make this work in most kitchen set ups.

April 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdiana

We do both, depending on what we are eating, and how many people are eating, and also where we are eating. We have small children who are mostly still too young to serve themselves, depending on what the food is, so sometimes we just make their plates from the food set out on the island rather than dragging all the dishes over to the table.

Sometimes we don't even set up a buffet. The food goes right from the pot or pan on the stovetop to the plates to the table. Why dirty serving dishes when there is no need to? Studies definitely show that you eat less if you make your plate in the kitchen and don't put the serving dishes on the table. So there's that, too.

But sometimes I like having the serving dishes on the table. It is definitely more homey that way. Or more formal, depending on whether we are in the kitchen or dining room.

I drive my MIL crazy every year for Thanksgiving because I like to put all the food on the table in serving dishes rather than set up a buffet. Every single year she tells me how she and my FIL do a buffet when they have large meals, and every single year I tell her I know that they do, but that we are having a sit-down dinner at the table, and NOT having a buffet. I am sure that a good 20 minutes of their drive home is devoted to discussing how stupid it is for me not to set up a buffet.

April 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

I can't imagine using separate serving dishes on a daily basis! But then, I don't have a dishwasher.

I grew up in a house where the plates were always filled in the kitchen by my mom. It was part of the dinner ritual for me to hang out with her in the kitchen and to carry the filled plates out to the table. (I am an only child - I can see that this might not scale well.) Serving dishes were used on special occasions only and were put on the dinner table to be passed around. That's what my husband and I do now.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAbigail

We have done buffet style from the island for years now but always sit at the table to eat as a family. The biggest pros of serving dinner this way, in my opinion, is that I don't have to dirty seperate serving dishes, we don't have to endure the serving dish passing ritual and there is less of a mess at the table.

Thanks for posting this question to us...it is interesting to hear what everyone's take is on it.

Tricia - Avolli

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

For company I use serving dishes, & have some that I only use once a year for certain dishes. For family (I have 5 kids, all out now - tho they keep coming back)
We always plated out of the pans & carried the plate to the table. Except for salad. It's really important to me that the hot food is hot, I'll even heat the plates, & tell everyone "please don't wait for me, start eating that while it's hot. Hard to keep it hot in serving dishes unless it's something like lasagna from the oven.

April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChloe C.


I think the way you eat depends entirely on whether or not you have children. My wife and I are childless by choice and have been married some 32 years—total bliss and so forth. For us it is, even after so many years, like living in a college dorm, and we've always pretty much approached it that way. In fact our home theater still in progress (I'm a cabinetmaker) has a coffee table that we love, as I put a lift in it to elevate the top to dining height on demand! But we don't have children.

I grew up in the fifties, and although my mother had to work, we always had dinner together as a family. Because of her schedule (she was a waitress), preparing meals often fell on my brother and me, which was fine. Taught me how to cook! But when Dad got home, we sat down, with or without my mother, and ate dinner together as a family. We talked about what we had learned in school that day (I'm the oldest of five children) and events of the day. Often Dad and I would talk long after the meal was finished, talked about what was going on in the world or the various philosophical underpinnings that go into the making of this human race. Probing the depths, Dad always called it.

In large measure, I firmly believe those conversations helped me and my siblings become the adults we are, and I would not have missed them for the world. And they took place over the dinner table.

In the end, there is no hard right or wrong to much of anything, but I do firmly believe that the rush, rush, rush lifestyle so many people with young families have these days is, in the long run, detrimental. I think we should take time to smell the roses. No, smell what's cooking in the kitchen, and then make of dinner the event it should be. When you're round the dinner table, you're family.

April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

We always do dinner "buffet style" for just hubby and I, with the intent that we will sit down at the table "family style" once we have kids. Right now I dish up our plates and then dish up the leftovers into dishes to go to work for lunch right away and put the pots and pans in the sink to soak to make dishes after dinner easier.

April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>