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3 July 2014

The Dying Dining Room

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The dining room isn’t what it used to be.

Luxury homeowners are ahead of the game when it comes to design and home improvement trends, and there is one in particular that is making waves: saying good-bye to the dining room.

Even at holidays, fewer people have the traditional sit-down dinner anymore, and the kitchen is usually the most populated spot during dinner parties. Many luxury homeowners are now transforming this neglected space into a room that fits their lifestyles, interests and decorative style.

The Wall Street Journal featured an article on this very subject, highlighting homeowners who converted this space into more useful, and some very extravagant, rooms. We’re talking entertainment lounges, libraries, art galleries, yoga studios – rooms designed to enhance the lives of their owners.

One couple turned their dining room into a relaxation mecca, bridging their indoor space with the vineyards in their Napa backyard. Another man turned his 1,200-square foot dining room into what he calls a “living pavilion” – an area boasting a 15-foot fireplace and decorated with one-of-a-kind sculptures, copper chandeliers and a grand piano. You can also throw in the spectacular view of Yellowstone National Park for good measure.

These grand rooms fall in line with many recent trends luxury homeowners have been following. Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate did a survey on the interests and habits of high-end homeowners, finding that many are choosing to invest in their homes instead of the stock market.

Just what are these trends?

Eighty-seven percent of luxury homebuyers want a technology friendly home, with two-thirds saying they’d prefer a smart home over a green one. Basically they want easy access and convenience – they want to turn up their ACs with their iPhones from their cars.

Luxury homebuyers also want amenities. In fact, 94 percent said they’d trade in a decent amount of square footage for things like great schools, access to nightlife and short work commutes. But this is just for their main home, as affluent buyers want multiple houses that will fit their lifestyle needs (such as vacation homes). More than 50 percent said a second home is vital for comfortable living.

The most interesting trend is the connection homeowners have with nature – or at least their affinity for a lot of outdoor space. More than half want a garden, backyard or a guest house. This falls in line with the WSJ article mentioned above – some of the interviewed homeowners transformed their dining rooms into outdoor annexes.

That’s not to say the dining room is obsolete – a family meal will never go out of style. But food can be enjoyed anywhere, and that anywhere can be a sanctuary, a library, a spa or a game room. It will be interesting to see if this trend goes mainstream, since many homeowners agree that it’s design, comfort and personality– not where you eat – that makes a house a home.

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