Angie's List: Dining rooms disappearing across America - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Angie's List: Dining rooms disappearing across America

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Most of us grew up with a dining room in our house and a lot of us still have them. But fewer and fewer of us are using that space for its intended purpose.

Whether you call it dinner or supper, 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 even go in there, according to a new Angie’s List survey.

“Formal dining rooms seem to be disappearing,” says Randy Sorrell, founder of remodeling company Surroundings. 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.”

62 percent of survey respondents say they still have dinner with the family almost every night. Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List, is one of them. “We’re a family that eats right in the kitchen so our dining room goes unused,” says Hicks. “When our kids were younger, we used it for homework and now we only go in there to change the thermostat.”

Two-thirds of the respondents haven’t redecorated or re-designed their dining room but use it for office or homework space, an unorganized storage area, even space for the dog. But 13 percent are so sure they won’t ever eat there again, they’ve ditched the table and chairs. The Vielees are one example.

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

When the Vielees moved into their home eight years ago, they had six busy children at home and thought the dining room would be a routine gathering spot. Total times they actually gathered there for a meal: 10.

“On average, our family does not eat dinner together,” says Vielee. “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 as a DIY project, but 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.

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