by TJ AndersonWe work on new-construction and renovation projects in Nashville all the time, so home design concerns — paint colors, tile choices, kitchen finishes — are a big part of my life
The Death Of The Dining Room
Have you noticed? The dining room is ceasing to exist. It's a trend I've become very aware of in the past few years. People who do have a dedicated dining room very rarely end up using it for its intended function--maybe just once or twice a year for (inherently unfun) holiday meals. Instead, family dinners and dinner parties end up clustered around kitchen islands, breakfast bars, coffee tables, and patio tables. Is this because our world has grown less formal in general? Placemats and table settings, placecards and seating charts, stodgy dinner party conversation is all being jettisoned in favor of informal gatherings where the focus is on fun. And the dining room itself is being tossed by the wayside in favor of spaces with far more function.
I'm clearly not the first person to notice how silly it is to sacrifice 400 square feet for a room you’ll use maybe twice a year. A Google search of the headline I just wrote indicates (unsurprisingly) that I'm not the first person to use alliteration to make this particular point. At Gardenista.com, blogger Michelle Slatalla declares, "I think we can all agree by now that the most worthless space in a conventional house is the dining room. I have lived in seven houses, and in all of them, this was a sad and misused place, a room you walked through to dump schoolbooks and dog leashes and violin cases on your way to a real room. Finally, in my current house, we’ve eliminated it—through the invention of a little something I call the formal kitchen."
Slatalla goes on to explain that the difference between the erstwhile eat-in kitchen and today's formal kitchen is all in the details. Flattering lighting can turn your kitchen table into a space very much worthy of a glam dinner party. She points out that guests tend to congregate naturally in kitchens anyway; why not make it official and stick your dining table within the very space that guests feel most comfortable?
In old houses I’m seeing the dining room become more of a flex room--so that homeowners can use the dining table as their office, or jointly use the space as a sitting or gathering room. In new houses, I'm sometimes seeing owners choose to go without a formal dining room altogether, instead maximizing space and concentrating on building a dynamic breakfast nook. And the increasing trend toward very open floor plans means that many people are tearing down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room so that it becomes one big space.
What's your take on the death of the dining room? Will you miss it? And I want to know: If you have a dining room, do you use it?
TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....
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