The Tables Have Turned

If my house had a popularity contest, I’m afraid my dining room would be buzzed out of the competition as soon as it started. It’s not that she isn’t pretty, or accommodating, or fun for that matter, it’s just that she’s always there. Waiting. Biding her time, patiently standing by for something–anything, to happen. The guilt gets to me to the point that I’ll avoid eye contact or encouragingly mutter “two months to Thanksgiving,” as I scurry by. 
But things are picking up for this chamber of formality, the dining room is making a comeback. Its fading popularity began in the 1990s with the popularity of its nemesis, the Great Room. The concept of a casual eating area just off the kitchen, usually with access to a TV, quickly caught the public’s attention since it accommodated an increasingly busy lifestyle. Over the subsequent years dining continued to become more casual, and dining room usage less frequent.
Then the pandemic hit, and things changed. Suddenly a private area in a house became a hot commodity for Zoom calls, makeshift home offices, and personal spaces. We also began to eat out less, cook more, and decided to replicate the restaurant experience at home. For both reasons, the formal dining room’s resurgence has begun. 
Before electricity, light was a valuable asset, so dining rooms frequently included sitting areas or desks near windows to take advantage of the natural light. A growing trend is to embrace that concept and make the dining room a multi-use room. A bright dining room can serve as a plant conservatory, extra space can be converted to a lounge area, and games stashed in the sideboard can help it quickly turn into a game room. 
The art is making the room more flexible, but preserving its primary use as a place to enjoy a meal. A step in that direction is to embrace the style, not the stuffy. Dinnerware sales have grown over 14% in the past year, with Millennials doing the majority of the purchasing. Pretty, casual china is on trend, as is mixing and matching different patterns. 
If the dining table is rarely used, consider a drop-leaf or Pembroke table. When not in use, the sides fold down and it can be stored out of the way against a wall. If your dining room furniture has become invisible to you, it might be time to replace a piece or two with things you love. A contemporary rug, a fresh wall color, or a new light fixture are always great ways to change your look. Use your imagination, design a place you want to spend time in, and then you will.

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