The Dining Room: Is it Still Valuable?

Designated dining rooms are not as high on the priority list of Canadian homeowners as they used to be. Homes are getting smaller, main floors have fewer walls defining specific areas, and condos which dictate efficient use of space are increasing in popularity. I visit homes every week where the dining room has been given up in favor of other family needs such as desk space, play space, or TV watching space. If the clients are selling the home, invariably the room reverts back to a dining room as a solid selling strategy. If it is a decorating decision, however, the home owner’s needs win out and sadly, this may mean the loss of the dining room.

That is not to say that dining rooms don’t have inherent value, depending on your needs. Dining rooms are a place for family to gather and reconnect at the end of the day. They are where friends and extended family celebrate, create memories and share great meals. Dining rooms are quite often one of the first rooms viewed as the home is entered, may be one of few grown-up spaces offered, and can be the showcase room within the home. Dining rooms typically offer something extra, such as an exquisite chandelier, bold wallpaper, a beautiful rug, and furniture which is chosen for its beauty as much as its functionality.

It’s possible to double up the function in the dining room so that non-dining activities can be done in and around a dining set up. For example, homework gets done at the dining room table. Most days the room may be cluttered with books and pens and papers, but the study accruements can be whipped out of sight pretty quick when a designated dining space is needed to show off and use. Likewise a combined library/office/dining room can serve each function very well with just the slightest re-dressing. If your room is large enough, consider a secondary function at one end of the room such as a couple of reading chairs, table and lamp, to increase the usefulness of the space. On the other hand if it’s a playroom that’s needed, and who wouldn’t love a play room right next to the kitchen where you can keep an eye on the little ones, perhaps storing the dining room furniture is the best option with future plans to revert back when the children are older.

If you are creating, improving, or reverting back to a dining room, it will be time for some fresh ideas. Probably your first decision will be the dining table and chairs. Questions to ask yourself will be ideal size and shape, as in what fits the room and how many you want to seat; style which will conform with the rest of the house and make you very happy; and ability to stand up to the family demands you will be placing on it as you dine, study and/or work in the room. At some point early in this process you can identify your preferred wall treatments and whether you want an accent wall. Remember, there are almost unlimited paint colors to choose from so it can help to keep an open mind on this until all your other main elements are confirmed. Next, choose storage and sideboard space as needed to display on and serve from. Follow up with any secondary seating arrangement, desk space, or shelving desired. Confirm your wall colours and lastly place the décor bits to complete the space which may include lighting, window coverings, rugs, table top décor, plants, and artwork. Each and every element will play an important role in ensuring your dining room is beautiful and functional, pulling together to make a worthy room indeed.

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