The dining room appears to be going out of fashion. Meals are eaten in the kitchen, at the island or table or, perhaps, on a coffee table at an hour our grandparents would probably consider to be “bedtime.” We’re all busier than ever, working longer than ever.
The formal dining room is used perhaps two or three times a year – Thanksgiving, maybe the holidays. But the rest of the time it serves as a museum for china and glassware, or simply a reminder of how families used to eat.
Blogger Pam Kueber of Retro Renovation has a theory behind the demise of the dining room. “In the early 20th century and prior, many homes had servants,” she writes. “The kitchen was their separate domain, while the family ate in the dining room. As that tradition died away – and as Mom began to do all the kitchen work herself – we wanted to hang with her and she wanted to hang with us, so the lines between kitchen and dining room began to blur and design evolved towards the ‘open concept’ kitchen so popular today.”
Despite the declining use of the dining room, it remains a fixture in modern day homes. According to a U.S. Census survey that focused on the evolution of new American homes by decade, 46.9 percent of homes constructed before 1960 had dining rooms, compared to 50.6 percent of homes constructed between 2005 and 2009. Keuber chalks up these numbers to the fantasy that often is involved with decorating and designing a new home.
“We buy and furnish our home the way we imagine we want to live,” Kueber says. “Today, I think people still like the idea of a separate dining room because of idyllic visions of Thanksgiving Day and big family gatherings that rarely end up happening.”