Are the days of the dining room completely gone as a place for families to gather, eat, catch up on gossip and enjoy family banter? It would seem so.
For today’s families, it seems that the kitchen has all but replaced the dining room as the centre of family life. Modern families are busier than ever before. Our days are now much longer than in the past, with children attending more activities and doing more homework. We come and go at various times and therefore ‘eating’ needs to be staggered to meet individual requirements. A family meal takes a great deal of effort and tying up valuable living space which might only be used once or twice a week seems a real waste.
And so the kitchen has become the central area where families gather – no longer a place for just cooking meals and washing up. It is the hub of family interaction. Today’s kitchens are much larger than in the past; they may contain music systems, television sets, computers, playpens, or even drum kits. And with central islands and bar stools, the chances are that we will be eating in the kitchen too. The rise and popularity of the over-sized coffee table in the lounge is a further indication that meal times have become much more relaxed.
What has happened to these relatively unused dining rooms? Many have been converted to accommodate modern living. Studies, playrooms, libraries, craft and hobby rooms, art studios, home gyms, as well as fully equipped offices for those working from home. Newer homes are now being built to meet the trend; and older homes renovated and redeveloped to meet the needs of the modern family. Open floor planning and large spacious areas make the home feel bigger. Properties offering such space are now top of the ‘must have’ list for home buyers.
Of course, those of us who grew up with traditional dining rooms, with memories of great family get-togethers, may want to continue with the dining table tradition. Some, however, are choosing to have a room that is multi-functional and that can easily be converted from office or playroom back to dining area.
“We buy and furnish our home the way we imagine we want to live. Today, people still like the idea of a separate dining room because of idyllic visions of Christmas Day and big family gatherings.” True or False?