The Dining Room – Not Just for Christmas Anymore

dining room in Kakh-e Sadabad, Tehran, Iran

I'm afraid our dining room isn't quite this fancy

In anticipation of our upcoming kitchen remodel, we’re trying something new – dining in the dining room.  Our kitchen has an eating area, but with the redesign we’ll incorporate a working island into that space.  The island will have a counter overhang with two or three kitchen stools, but it won’t accommodate family meals.

We realized the perfect solution to this loss of eating space was right next door to the kitchen – in our dining room.  As do many others, we have a formal dining room and furniture but only use it on holidays and special occasions.  One quick discussion and we concluded it was time to quit wasting this space.  We’ve been taking our meals there ever since.

The children questioned us repeatedly during the first few meals (“Why are we eating in here?”), but have now decided they prefer the dining room.  Of course, the entire situation led me to wonder how dining rooms came to be, how many homes feature separate dining rooms and how many of these are utilized on a regular basis.

Why do we have dining rooms?
The dining room descends from the manor great hall used by the European upper class and nobility during the Middle Ages.  These were huge halls that accommodated the entire manor population during meals.  (I would imagine dinner was a lively affair back then.)

However, as time went on, people began to desire more intimate gathering spaces and took to dining in smaller parlors.  (Meals amongst the hordes probably just got to be too much.  Can you imagine?)  The great hall was eventually replaced by the smaller dining parlor – the precursor of our modern dining room.

How many homes have dining rooms?
According to the 2009 American Housing Survey, conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 48 percent of occupied housing units have a separate dining room.

How many people actually use their dining rooms?
Finding official statistics about the actual use of dining rooms was trickier.  I couldn’t turn up any facts or figures illustrating use of dining rooms.  Just a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting most dining rooms sit unused for the majority of the year.

My kitchen remodeling project has caused me to rethink how effectively we use our living space.  It appears many people have given up on the dining room altogether.  But not so fast!  What could be better than two rooms devoted to food – one to the enjoyment of its preparation; the other to the enjoyment of its consumption?

5 Responses to “The Dining Room – Not Just for Christmas Anymore”
  1. Hey, how’d you get a photo of our dining room?

  2. Karen says:

    I love the post and that you are using your dining room for dining.

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