Angie’s List: America’s Vanishing Dining Room

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Angies List Flint Energies
Angies List Flint Energies

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – With meal kit delivery services becoming more and more popular, the way people are cooking meals is changing. It should come as no surprise, then, that the way we’re eating them is changing too. While dining rooms are still a common feature in homes across the country, that space is being used less for dining these days. In today’s Angie’s List report, a home trend that’s keeping dinner off the table.

According to a survey from Angie’s List, only 23 percent of us are spending our evening meal gathered around a proper dinner table. Seven percent of us still have dining room furniture in the room, but rarely actually use the room.

“Formal dining rooms seem to be disappearing. Kitchen tables are still around … generally … but dining rooms, are, wow, you know, those are, those are becoming studios. It’s an office. It’s a work-out room. It’s anything but a dining room,” said Randy Sorrell, founder of the remodeling company Surroundings.

Whether or not the dining rooms is used, sixty-two percent of survey respondents said they still have dinner with the family almost every night. Angie Hicks is one of them.

“We’re a family that eats right in the kitchen so our dining room goes unused. When our kids were younger, we used it for homework and now we only go in there to change the thermostat,” says Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks.

Two-thirds of homeowners surveyed keep their dining room as it is but instead of using the table for its intended purpose, they use it for office or homework space, a storage area or even space for the dog. But 13 percent are so sure they won’t ever eat there again, they’ve thrown out the table and chairs and use the open space for other activities. The Vielees are one example.

“The first thing that happened when the table left was it became our storage unit. But really, my kids love yoga. So having that floor space, most nights you can find them there, doing yoga,” says Lisa Vielee.

When the Vielees moved into their home eight years ago, they had six busy children at home and pictured the dining room as a routine gathering place. In those eight years, they have actually gathered there for a meal a total of 10 times.

“On average, our family does not eat dinner together. I really try to get as many people together on Sundays, but during the week, it’s just too hard for all of us to eat at the same time.”

Vielee says when all the kids are out of the house and the yoga stops, she wants to redecorate the space into a quiet, restful reading room.

Many dining room re-uses can be done with a simple redecoration of the space itself. If you want to do something more significant to the space, Angie cautions against getting the sledge hammer out without a plan and professional help. Taking down walls can create structural issues if they’re load-bearing. Removing wainscoting or wood trim can be tricky, too.