One of my absolute favorite things to do is to host a dinner in our home or attend a dinner at someone else’s home. It doesn’t have to be a formal or fancy affair. However, I believe that the intimacy of sharing a meal in our homes simply cannot be duplicated to sharing a meal in a restaurant. 

The question that remains to be answered for homeowners today is asking if the dining room is obsolete? This question is especially relevant for the 50+ers because the majority of us are empty nesters or will be soon. This  change in lifestyles affects how we live in a whole new way, or does it?

In our open plan home, the dining area worked perfectly for many dinners, meetings, and events.

Currently, with moving to a downsized home, this has definitely changed our lifestyle and the need to have a dedicated dining room. Our three families live in various states so the odds of us all being together in Ohio is going to be a very rare occasion. We now gather at one of the adult kids homes where the hosting is for at least 17 of us if not more. And I do not have to cook!… 🙂

But even if single, widowed, divorced, or remarried, life today is drastically different on so many levels not only for entertaining but how we cook and eat in general.

Side comment on how we live today, in over 50% of our homes a single person lives there. I know, shocking. 

Here are the considerations to have or not to have a dining room today:


You all know my philosophy on sharing our homes or apartments or condos with others. Sadly however, I observe more and more people that rarely even cook for themselves. Often then, these  are the folks that rarely have anyone into their homes for a meal, happy hour, or dessert.  I think this is a major loss of sweet fellowship opportunities! 

We now do casual entertaining on our patio frequently.

Now let’s look at the 50+ers. You know that I am correct on these observations of the way we live today. Therefore, why have a dedicated dining room to be used once or twice a year if that? Before you kill the messenger, I accept that there are those traditionalists that do indeed use their dining rooms beyond the Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings. But you super hostesses out there with dining rooms are the ones we all wish we knew to be blessed with your generous hospitality.


Without a dining room there is a need to have a plan B in our homes to entertain on whatever level is the answer. We use our hearth area off of our kitchen that serves 6 – 8 comfortably. Since I truly love setting a beautiful table, our family or guests appreciate my efforts to give them the ‘’dining room experience’’ sans an actual dining room.

And a wonderful plus of our hearth area off our kitchen is the fireplace. What adds more initimcy than a fireplace?

This high quality Italian table purchased in 1990 for our family home has 2 24′ leaves. Bob’s idea for entertaining 8 is to move the table on the diagonal to add more comfortable guest space. Another tip for alternative dining options is to have exceptionally comfortable chairs with the correct pitch.

Outside entertaining

Everyone loves eating outdoors whether on a patio, screened porch or decks. This works perfectly for the casual way most of us live today. When the weather permits, why wouldn’t we savor this experience? However, I see so many outside spaces void of an eating table, another lost opportunity to “break bread together”.

Using kitchen islands for entertaining

This is why I am so opposed to having an appliance such as a sink or a cooktop on the island because to me it disturbs the aesthetics of the dining experience to see the remains of dishes or pots and pans. And yes, it is so possible to avoid this…see my other posts.

The Christmas table setting of this post’s feature photo is the dining area in our Wichita home’s open floor plan. Again, even without a separate dining room, this is a perfect example creating the dining room experience.

BTW, this image was in the book, Christmas by Design where our home was featured with other designers, where I was honored to work with Patricia Hart MacMillian.


Our former dining room is now our TV/Den room that is used almost daily. It is an intimate space that envelopes us with a cozy smaller space rather than sitting in our larger living room. (this space will soon be even more intimate with the ‘’afters’’)

It was definitely a no brainer for Bob and I to convert this room to a den since we knew we would rarely use this dining room. 


Home offices

‘’Study Hall’’ for now online homework

Sewing or craft rooms


Sitting room

Perhaps you have other options for your rarely used dining room, and if so, please share with us. 

Regardless of the standard floor plans of the past or maybe even the present in larger homes, the wise homeowner, in my opinion, does not keep their rarely used spaces just because this is what once was the tradition. 

DESIGN SMARTS is just this, designing lifestyles and homes with the wisdom of how we actually live today, not how we wish we were living. To this end my beloved readers, what or how could your lives be enhanced by having your own space to be whatever space is lacking in your home today. If you take this opportunity to implement alternative uses for your rarely used if ever dining room, I believe that you will be enriched beyond expectation. 

Living and Loving Life Together,

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