The Dining Room – A Relic in Modern Home Culture

Out with the Dining Room and In with the Man Room

By Mark J. Donovan

When I walk through the various rooms of my home nowadays it has become very apparent to me that our dining room, with its beautiful Ethan Allen table and hutch, has become a relic of the past. We virtually never use the room anymore, other than at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Quite frankly, as I think about it more, we never really used it that often even when we did have our children still living at home with us. Today, our dining room table serves more as a temporary holding pattern for folded laundry and mail then it does for anything else.

To be honest, I think I’ve felt our dining room as a relic from the past for many years now.

Early on I think I questioned my social skills, or lack thereof on why I didn’t have extended family and friends over to formally dine with us. With further retrospect, I realized I did have them over. It is just that we chose to mingle in the kitchen and sit around the kitchen table in a less formal setting.

I think part of the truth with the formal dining room concept is that, like other busy people, we just don’t have the time to have a lot of formal meals. And the other part of the story is, my wife and I simply have other interests. Based on what I see on the various home and garden television shows I don’t think we are so unlike the rest of the American public. It seems like most of the hosts and guests on the various home building and real estate shows are more interested in talking about media rooms, man caves, and home offices than they are in having formal dining rooms.


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The bottom line is that like the rest of the American public, our lifestyles have changed.

We are busier than ever before and spend less time at home. And when we are at home, we are usually looking for a quick bite to eat and then retiring to our family room, bedrooms, or office to rest and unwind. The case for the dining room being a relic of the past is even more pronounced when I think about younger families with school aged children.

School and after school-activities keep the children and parents away from the home much of the day, and even on the weekends. As a result, the concept of Sunday being a day of rest and a time for having a large afternoon meal has just about vanished. As a matter of fact, there are reports today that suggest that only one third of American families gather to eat dinner together in the evening on a regular basis. Again, from the younger families I know, this datapoint seems to be consistent with their busy lifestyles.

So if you are in the process of designing a new home, you may want to pause and think a bit on whether or not including a formal dining room really makes sense for you and your family.

Like me, I think you may realize, it may be a smarter decision to design a home that has a much larger kitchen so that it can support a large eating area for the entire family.

Today’s kitchen has truly become the focal point of the house. It is where people can prepare food and also mingle in a more relaxed setting. By including a large eating area in the kitchen, however, you can at least have the space for those occasional times the entire family sits down for a meal, or for hosting guests when they do stop by for a quasi formal evening dinner.

By eliminating the dining room from your custom home design plans you can then free up the space for supporting a home office or media room.


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