The Disappearing Dining Room
Whether you call it dinner or supper, only 23 percent of us are spending our evening meal gathered around a proper dinner table in space designed just for that purpose. Seven percent of us still have dining room furniture in the room, but rarely even go in there, according to a new Angie’s List survey.
“Formal dining rooms seem to be disappearing,” says Randy Sorrell, founder of Surroundings, a remodeling company. “Kitchen tables are still around … generally … but dining rooms, are, wow, you know, those are becoming studios. It’s an office. It’s a work-out room. It’s anything but a dining room.”
Sixty-two percent of survey respondents say they still have dinner with the family almost every night. Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, is one of them.
“We’re a family that eats right in the kitchen so our dining room goes unused. When our kids were younger, we used it for homework and now we only go in there to change the thermostat.”
Two-thirds of the respondents haven’t redecorated or re-designed their dining room but use it for office or homework space, an unorganized storage area, even space for the dog. But 13 percent are so sure they won’t ever eat there again, they’ve ditched the table and chairs. The Vielee family is one example.
“The first thing that happened when the table left was it became our storage unit. But really, my kids love yoga. So having that floor space, most nights you can find them there, doing yoga,” she said.
When the Vielees moved into their home eight years ago, they had six busy children at home and thought the dining room would be a routine gathering spot. Total times they actually gathered there for a meal: 10.
“On average, our family does not eat dinner together. I really try to get as many people together on Sundays, but during the week, it’s just too hard for all of us to eat at the same time,” she said.
Vielee says when all the kids are out of the house and the yoga stops, she wants to redecorate the space into a quiet, restful reading room.
Many dining room re-uses can be done as a D-I-Y project, but Angie cautions against getting the sledge hammer out without a plan and professional help. Taking down walls can create structural issues if they’re load-bearing. Removing wainscoting or wood trim can be tricky, too.
For tips on how to approach any remodeling change, visit the Angie’s List Guide to Remodeling.
The Angie’s List survey included responses from 1,245 members across the country. It was conducted in January, 2017.