Over the past few years, I have heard of a new statistic in home design that initially alarmed me: builders and architects are noting clients eschewing the dining room in their new home plans.
Then I come across articles that read something like “Ditch your Dining Room! This rarely used space is a waste of square footage – turn it into another useful space by… (fill in the blank)”
At first I shook my head. After all, I took my living room out and replaced it with a dining room instead. I almost did it with our beautiful house in North Georgia. Can you imagine meals by that woodstove on chilly winter evenings? But then I’m a food centric person, I reason. Not everyone is. I chalked it up to being an oddity.
But maybe I’m not. Maybe our outlook on home design is evolving, and it’s really just a shift in perception.
I think for many years we made the dining room this stuffy space where we pretended to be descended from the upper crust – it was the room we went into for holidays, where the china and crystal are brought out, we display that our mothers did instill good table manners in us, and in all honesty, it can be fun or really uncomfortable. It was the room that was designed to be a little grand, and could be, because it was so rarely used. Many times for big parties, those rooms aren’t big enough, and we Americans tend to have parties where everyone carries a plate (generally the use-once-toss-in-landfill variety, grrr!), and mills about and there is nothing formal to be concerned over. Informal is what we are, and it’s okay.
So for the above reason, I can understand and appreciate the thought of the formal dining room getting smaller and smaller – to the point now that some homes have just the barest nod to a dining room inside and a six-seater dining table and hutch might look crowded – and now, apparently, even that is disappearing.
But are they really?
For the above reasons of little-use, I think the dining room started shrinking, and the breakfast room started growing. As I worked on people’s homes over the past 10 years, I have observed this phenomenon happening. I noticed the breakfast room size increasing. It used to be this tiny space where four super skinny people could squeeze in if they held their breath and consumed nothing more than toast and orange juice before running off to school and work. Now breakfast spaces are bigger, up to eight people can sit comfortably there and the space offers more flexibility for parties.
Want to know where I think (and hope!) this is headed?
Full circle. Back to a dining room. But a REAL dining room – big, informal, open, light, flexible and happy. Like miniature dining halls, but right off the kitchen. There’s a growing movement of people who like to cook. What’s the point of working at those great cooking skills if you aren’t going to use them to treat your friends to your latest and greatest recipe discoveries? There are Dinner Clubs and Wine Clubs. There are mixtures of the two where we are sampling food and wine together. The difference is, we might be using everyday flatware. We might not be dressed up. Or we might be using a rough-hewn farm table, and setting out Mom’s china and crystal on it… and we are loving it.
What do you think, oh my friends? I’m calling specifically on my builder, architect, realtor, and fellow designer friends here for their input also.
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