Dining Rooms Are Out, Social Areas Are In

By Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

nahb intl builders show logoHouseholds across the country are moving toward a more casual dining experience.

While ease is a virtue, buyers also want technology-equipped, stylish spaces where their family members can come together.

For all these reasons, dining rooms have lost their appeal. Simply, they’re not flexible enough.

open kitchen“Dining rooms are definitely on the way out,” said Danielian Associates’ design coordinator Joe Digrado at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando Friday. “Ask your buyer if they really need one. In some markets they do. But many prefer an open, flexible space that will serve various functions.”

Open kitchens facing multi-use dining and social areas with a great room or living room are taking over the traditional dining room. Eat-in kitchens or seating areas at the island also popular with trends supporting a more informal lifestyle.

And when it comes to the kitchen, it’s all about function, function, function. If it doesn’t allow for ease of cooking, then you’re going to lose people, said Digrado. Cooking stations allowing for multiple chefs in the kitchen are becoming more common; as are work areas for laptops and homework, charging station for mobile devices, and casual seating for hanging out.

Outdoor rooms/entertainment areas just off the great room or kitchen are a way to expand the indoor space, said Digrado, especially has buyers seek smaller homes.

Laundry rooms can also become a second center of a home. They’re often combined as a crafts room, mud room, or sewing room. “It really becomes a command post for many of the functional activities,” said Martin van Koolbergen of Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting, Inc.

And don’t forget about the garage. Buyers are interested in extended storage options and flexible space.  (A good location for creative storage as buyers downsize to smaller homes.)

Here are a few more highly desired home features:

  • Raised, articulated ceilings.
  • Home office space (with an outdoor access, even better).
  • Parent suites with a larger bedroom and attached bath.

Quick Tip from van Koolbergen: Make sure the color of the lights match in a single room, such as overhead lights and lower table fixtures. When the color temperature is mismatched, it’s very obvious and can be distracting.

Blog Contributor

This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

  1. Judy Tobolski

    I would disagtree that dining rooms are out in Portland. Formal living rooms- definitely out. But people here like tyo entertain and having an informal nook eating area in the kitchen does not cut it when you have friends over the dinner. They still want a separate more formal space, even if it is in the great room.

  2. Terri S

    While I do see Formal Living rooms as being almost obsolete, I disagree with dining rooms. People who entertain love to have that additional space. Having guests at a dinner party use a small kitchen nook or counter is not practical.

  3. Holly Schwartz

    When I worked with HGTV I visited real estate markets where dining rooms were hot and markets where dining rooms were not. There is still certainly a place for dining rooms for people that enjoy hosting big formal dinners. However more and more people are accepting of homes that don’t offer a formal dining space. I currently work in Orange County, California and more people are open to the outdoor areas for gathering and dining due to the climate. Everyone wants space for guests but it’s not a must for all buyers.

  4. Henry

    I have a formal dining room and living room along with a great room. However, since I use my DR a few times each year, but never use my LR. My wife and I are going to expand our kitchen into the DR and then turn the LR into the multifunctional DR. One were we can have formal and informal events.

  5. I think it depends where in the country you live. Here in New England I design many formal DR’s. Kitchens are large in new homes with attached large FR’s. What i do not care for is the large FR attached to a kitchen when entertaining and it is the noise factor.
    Many people still prefer the intimacy of a Formal DR with the option to have drinks and appetizers in the kitchen island area. Just what I see here in CT. I am sure in CA outside Dining spaces are awesome!

  6. My spouse and I definitely think that this short article was highly beautiful. We believe that you will delight in this little quote to return the favour. – “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

  7. Nice article. On holidays, I and my family spend most of the time in the dining room and our kitchen is very prestigiously constructed. Especially the kitchen cabinets Oakville shows that type of magical view that whole family feels that we eating in the heaven.

  8. Eusebia Konat

    The most important furniture in the dining room set is the dining table. Hence it is of utmost importance to select a dining table that suits your personality, lifestyle and taste. Like for example, a glass table is best suited for a small dining room as it gives the illusion of spaciousness. Similarly an expandable table is more suited for a small family which happens to invite people over regularly. For big families with many children, it is better to go for wooden tables as they are safe and easier to clean.,,

    Check out all of the newest content on our own web blog

  9. I actually have a dining room and formal living room and only use on special occasions. So with that said, I would opt for one big open space with a large table off to the side for entertaining purposes and I think you can enjoy all aspects of the large open floor plan.

  10. I think this is another trend that won’t be so trendy a couple of years from now. Buy-in of course is a matter of personal preference, floor plan, and the need for additional yet separate space. Great rooms are terrific for people without children, but no matter how hard you teach kids to levitate “them” and their stuff won’t.