Would you buy a home without a formal dining room?

sarahmn1October 24, 2012

Hi everybody, we are going to build a house and are finalizing our floor plan. It will be roughly 3500 square feet, and will be an "upper bracket" house for our little town. We have a dining room in our current house and we have not used it to dine in for years. I currently use it as a home office. So, we did not include a dining room in our new plan. We have a large kitchen table and space for it in the new house. But now I'm worried about resale, although we plan to be here for the next 20 years. Would you buy a larger home without a formal dining room? Thanks for your input.

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LuAnn_in_PA

Well, I don't know about a "formal dining room" (what makes it formal?), but I would never want a house without a separate dining room.

We use ours plenty and would NOT want to be without one!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 2:49PM
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camlan

I would expect a 3500 foot house to have more than one dining space--so an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room.

If you have a space in your new house that can easily be converted to a dining room, I think you'd be fine.

It's the size of your house and the "upper bracket" description that make me think potential buyers would expect a dining room of some sort.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 2:59PM
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DLM2000

Would *I* buy a house without a formal dining room?? Yes - that's my preference as long as there is an area adjacent to the main living space to hold a large table - that's a more relaxed type of floor plan in keeping with my lifestyle. But as Camlan said, since you define your house as upper bracket and it's a sizable home, I think it would be expected to have a designated separate space.

I have a 'formal' dining room now, in a 2500 sq ft house and it's woefully underused because for casual get togethers we use our deck or porch - even our kitchen nook. Our DR is not large enough to comfortably expand our table to it's largest, which is what we need for T-giving etc. To have a room large enough to do that for a few big gatherings per year would be a waste for us.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 3:48PM
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mamattorney

That's a tough question. Right now we ONLY have a dining room (no eating area in the kitchen) and while I often wish for an eat in kitchen; it's more because we have carpet in the dining room and it's a pain to keep clean. If we had both, my guess is the dining room would be neglected.

So, having only one eating area would not be a deal breaker for me (since that's the way it is now), but it would be a factor and a house with two eating areas would be more appealing to me.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:20PM
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terriks

I'm another in the "it depends" category. 20 years ago I would have said no way, but our current house which we built doesn't have a "formal" dining room per se. I would call it a semi formal dining room. It's bigger than our old formal dining room and is adjacent to the kitchen where we have a nice counter for casual dining. I just couldn't see devoting the square footage in this house to such a seldom used (by us) room.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:37PM
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mrspete

I would not buy a house that DID have a formal dining room. I have a formal dining room in my current house, and it is rarely used. I thought we'd use it, but we don't. We have people over fairly often, but we tend towards buffets and casual meals -- I think most people do.

Having said that, I would not buy a house that didn't have a LARGE eating area.

And my opinion may be tempered by the fact that I'm from the South. I'd rather have a great outdoor dining area (and a pool) instead of two indoor eating areas.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 5:53PM
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cmarlin20

I would not buy a house without a formal dining room, but I also don't like formal dining rooms cut off from the rest of the house. I prefer one open to the living room.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 6:35PM
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sarahmn1

Thank you so much for your input. I believe we do have a space off of the kitchen that we could convert / advertise as a dining room, so I think we will be ok. I had a moment of panic about it as the plans are being finalized so thanks for helping me think it through. It's hard to walk the line between customizing your home to your uses and preferences and making sure other people will want to buy it someday!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 7:03PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

No, I would not buy a house without an eat in kitchen and a formal dining room.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:22PM
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JadedBaroness

Yes, if the layout were right, I would. But there would have to be a large space for eating in the kitchen that I could dress up on special occasions :) I would much prefer space be used regularly rather than entire rooms that are rarely used like formal living and dining rooms...

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:12PM
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sapphire6917

I would not buy a house without a formal dining room. I have one now and wouldn't trade it for the world. In addition to hosting Christmas, I often have dinner parties and impromptu gatherings but even on a day to day basis, all dining takes place in the dining room; even if it's just a quick sandwich and drink. I do have a counter in the kitchen with two stools but I would say they only get used ten or twenty percent of the time. When I had an apartment with no dining room, we would eat in the living room around the television, which I hated. Now, when we dine, we spend much more time engaged in great conversation that we sometimes don't make it into the family room after dinner!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Xclusive

I will go the opposite way of others. If a house didn't have a formal DR we wouldn't buy it. We have a counter as well with 3 bar stools that hardly gets used at all. We use our DR everyday for family meals as well as for formal get togethers as well.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:41PM
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newbuyer2007

I think people will expect a dining room in a house of that size. If you have a room that can be turned into a dining room, I think you will be ok.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:04AM
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ncrealestateguy

Over the last few years I have seen more buyers ok with a home that does not have a formal DR. However, most buyers still desire one, even if there is a place to eat in the kitchen area. A lot of people want one just so they can convert it into an office.
I built my home 5 years ago, and we have a keeping room as part of the kitchen, which supports 3 bar stools and a table that sits 10. And I still put in a formal DR just for resale.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 7:49AM
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nancylouise_gw

No, I would not buy a home without a dining room. We use ours more then the eat-in kitchen space. I think with the size of the home you are building it would be expected. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 7:54AM
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patriceny

It would totally depend on the floor plan to me.

I'm another one who doesn't really know what "formal" is supposed to mean. Plus I am definitely not a "formal" person myself anyway.

I want a spacious separate eating area - but it doesn't necessarily need to be its own enclosed room. I just built a house, and my dining room is 13X15 but is really more or less open to my kitchen.

So for me, it depends much more on how the floor plan flows and that the spaces are adequate, more than on anything else.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 9:31AM
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kashka_kat

In context of modern house design -what exactly is a formal dining room? This is an honest question. Since I am an old house lover and have in fact never lived in a house newer than 1920s I would expect a dining room, with a door, that is separate from the kitchen..

But it seems like many houses these days are designed as a large open space with a breakfast bar or stools around an island for the quick bite to eat, plus some type of table and chairs on the other side of the island from the kitchen cabs and appliances. In other words, a separate dining SPACE, but without it being in a separate room altogether.

If that SPACE is adequate size for a large family get together - and if you had enough distance from the mess in the kitchen - I wouldn't think youd have to have a separate room elsewhere.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 10:52AM
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kirkhall

I'd love it if we had the ability to edit, and everyone who has commented put in their location now, and where they grew up (just general geographic location--ie, south, NE, SW, midwest, NW, etc). I bet you'd see some correlation in the answers given and the locations lived.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:22AM
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DLM2000

ok, kirkhall - I'll play and you tell us if the answers are what you expected! Paraphrasing what I wrote above:

I would prefer a house without a formal dining room although I have one now and our previous home did also. I'd like to have an area adjacent to the main living space to hold a large table. That's a more relaxed type of floor plan in keeping with my lifestyle and reduces seldom used sq footage.

Grew up in and still live in northern Chicago suburbs.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:29PM
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sas95

I would not buy a house without a formal dining room, especially if it were a 3500 sq. ft. house. I like to have the separation from the kitchen, and we eat in the dining room every night. We have a large eat-in kitchen, but we did not put a table there. We turned the "eat-in" part into a sitting area with a couch and chairs.

I grew up in the NYC suburbs and live there now.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 1:51PM
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camlan

Here's my previous post:

"I would expect a 3500 foot house to have more than one dining space--so an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room.
If you have a space in your new house that can easily be converted to a dining room, I think you'd be fine.
It's the size of your house and the "upper bracket" description that make me think potential buyers would expect a dining room of some sort."

I'm more or less from New England--have lived in MA, CT, NH and VT, and visited lots of people in RI and ME.

I think a separate dining area, in a large house in a upscale area is expected. Note that I didn't say "formal." We had a "formal" dining room in most of our houses growing up, and we ate dinner there just about every day, in part because my parents couldn't fit a kitchen table that seated 10 people in most of our kitchens. My parents were very big on sitting down together every night as a family and eating dinner (at least those of us who weren't at music lessons, football practic, Girl Scouts or marching band drills) without the distractions of the phone and TV.

A separate dining area doesn't have to be formal. We had a lot of hot dogs and fried chicken at meals in the dining room. You can have a buffet and still eat at the table. What the separate dining area does is give you a larger space that isn't combined with other activities the way most kitchens are--the kitchen/family room combo is the most common. Someone's cooking, someone's watching TV or playing video games--it's a noiser, busier space.

A separate dining area also gives the homeowners choices. Use it as a dining room or use it for other things that are more important. Like the OP, who uses her current dining room as a home office.

With the growing concept of the "away room," you can make the dining room function as a quiet space on the first floor, apart from the bustle of the family room. Dining rooms are good rooms to combine functions--you can easily add in a home office, a library, a reading room, a home work area, a hobby/craft area, without compromising the original function of the room.

I can see why someone in California or Florida would want an outdoor eating area more. That makes sense--to take advantage of the long seasons of warm weather. And I think there is a more casual lifestyle overall.

When the OP goes to sell, she can convert that space to a dining room, and have pictures of it arranged as a home office (or whatever it will be) to show buyers the flexibility of that space.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:30PM
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cas66ragtop

Yes I would buy a house w/o a formal DR, because we never use ours. But as others said, with a house that size, I think a formal DR will be expected, and can be seen as a negative if it is missing. Just because you don't use yours, doesn't mean the next family won't need it. If I could build my dream house and delete a few features that everyone else seems to want, I would easily get rid of the fireplace and the garden tub!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:54PM
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sarahmn1

Very interesting responses. I live in MN, in response to the question about geographical differences. I guess what a meant by "formal" was its own separate space / room in addition to a more casual eating area. The house plan has a great room concept, with a kitchen with a large island which then flows to the kitchen table and then into the family room. Which I know makes some of you cringe :) But there is an office off of the kitchen that is a little larger than our current (unused) dining room and I think we could market it as a DR alternative.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:59PM
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kitykat

I have owned homes both very large and small, all with a 'place' to eat... other than in the midst of the kitchen. Something as simple as a change in ceiling height, or a mostly open archway/opening can present a visual 'separation' between kitchen and eating area. Often, such areas can be dressed up or down, to suit the occasion... colorful place-mats for everyday family dining, pristine tablecloth for fancier fare. I think the ability to screen out kitchen clutter is a crucial factor along with a little bit of distance for controlling cooking odors..

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 3:12PM
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trilobite

I think a separate space on the main floor is terrifically adaptable. You could use it as a guest room, playroom, office, library, dining room, hobby room et cetera.

If there is no such space in the house, yes, I think it's an issue. I personally feel there is a trend away from big rooms that all flow into each other. They're more difficult to heat, noisier and are less private.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:25AM
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kirkhall

I'm PNW.
So, within that construct, when I see a formal dining room (ie, a space with walls around it and maybe 2 openings of whatever size), on a floorplan, I think to myself how I'd use that space, because it wouldn't be for a fancy dining table that rarely gets used...

I think if you have that flex space, close to the kitchen, then you will be okay when it comes time to sell. Make sure you have a light receptacle in the middle of the ceiling that could be used to hanging a dining light/chandelier from, even if you plan to use it as an office and have all the outlets 1/2 switched for floor and table and desk lamps... It provides the most flexibility in the floorplan. Then, when you go to sell, just leave the room unlabeled on the floorplan (yes, I am in favor of posting good floorplans on MLS sites), and let the potential buyer decide if it is a dining room, formal LR, away room, office, etc.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:50PM
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brickeyee

What is at the price point in your area?

The old 'living-dining ell' used to be the mark of a low level 'starter home.'

If the houses similar in style and price in your area (your competition) have separate dining rooms, you will be at a disadvantage.
You will be selling 'less' of the same price.

I would never buy a house without a separate dining room.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:13PM
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theresafic

I am going to disagree with the majority and say if you are building a house why would you put in rooms you don't like/won't use just for some mythical buyer 20 yrs from now?
I think that is the part of the post people missed, op is talking if she sells the house many years from now. Tastes change and I believe formal dining rooms will continue to be less and less necessary and probably the majority of houses will not have them.
I personally dislike a room used only a couple of times a year and got rid of my fancy table and hutch and now it is where the computers are, another space which won't be needed in twenty yrs in my opinion

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 9:27PM
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camlan

theresafic, to a great extent I agree with you. If a room will never be used, there's no sense in having it.

That's why, upthread, I talked about having a space that could be whatever the OP wants, but with little effort could be converted into a "dining room."

So it wouldn't have a built-in sideboard or other typical dining room storage. But it would be located near enough to the kitchen to serve as a dining room and be large enough to hold typical dining room furniture if that's what a future owner would like. There are families that use their dining rooms daily. And there are families who would never use them but would love the space for computers, as you do.

Because sometimes plans don't work out exactly as we hope they will. This 20 year home could become a 10 year home, or even a 5 year home (although I hope not). There may come a time when the OP needs to sell, as opposed to wants to sell. And at that point, the lack of any dining room type space could be a drawback.

I think it is possible to plan space so that it meets your needs now, your needs in 15 years, and the needs of future homeowners. I think dining rooms are becoming "swing" rooms in many homes, where they are used for home offices or libraries, sometimes at the same time they are used for dining rooms.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:17AM
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sarahmn1

OP here, all of your comments have made me increasingly comfortable with our plan. We do not plan to have built-ins in the space (for us, the office), so I think it will retain its flexibility. I think it could be an office, a dining room, or even a playroom if future owners have small kids that they want nearby on the same floor while they are in the kitchen. There are a very limited number of houses at our price point in town (which has made getting financing a bit of a challenge because there are no comps...), and I would say the ones I have seen do have the DRs and that was giving me pause. I think we will be ok if we keep it flexible!

Thanks for the good ideas on lighting and outlets, Kirkhall.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 1:59PM
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sassy09

No, include a room that can be used as a formal dining room! My former home in NY, we had so much trouble selling it because we had a small kitchen so knocked down the wall and combined kitchen and DR to make a great kitchen with granite, upscale etc. We had many showings for 9 months, every one said either "I expect a DR in this price range" or "I have DR set and don't want to get rid of it", and some refused to see rest of house all redone in mint condition w all new baths, kitchen yard etc. We finally did sell it, and lowered price a lot just to get rid of it, as we were carrying two homes. Have a room, use it for whatever you like, but when selling, convert to dining room. A very expensive lesson for us to learn, don't exclude the dining room.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:50PM
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jakabedy

I know I'm late to this thread, but wanted to pop in to say that I am seeing a lot of open plan layouts like this one in houses of all price ranges:

It's not a separate "formal" dining room, but is space for a dining room table. And typically it is space for ONLY a DR table, and not any other DR furniture (which a lot of people are foregoing, anyway). So if you're really not wanting to dedicate another 4-walled room for dining, then this could be a way to go. And if you personally don't want to put a DR table there, you don't have to. You can use it as another sitting area, or for comfy chairs around a cocktail-type table.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 11:58AM
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cathie2029

I would buy one without a dining room. We have one and never use it. I would much prefer an area in the kitchen large enough for a big table AND a huge island.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:47PM
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jane__ny

This was our dilemna while house shopping. The house we liked (and wound up buying) had a dining area but no eat-in-kitchen. I love eat-in-kitchens and did not like the idea of having our only eating area in the dining room.

In this house, the dining area is open to the living room and kitchen. We thought we could widen the kitchen to allow a table, but it won't work.

Now I'm thinking of taking down the kitchen wall to open it to the dining area.

We did buy the house as is, but I think it hurt the sellers chance of getting a higher price.

Jane

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 11:32PM
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violetwest

A closed-off formal dining room is wasted space, imo. I'm a solo, living in the SW, and would much prefer an open concept living/dining, kitchen combo.

If I were in the market for a large, formal living, large family type house, it might be a different story, though.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:31PM
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stir_fryi

I also agree that it would be a mistake not to have a separate dining room in a house that size.

I have come to the conclusion that open floor plans are over-rated!! My DH sits in the great room watching TV and I am in the kitchen working and he is annoyed by the lights on and noise I am making while he is watching "his shows." Also, my kids will come in the kitchen with their friends, and you might as well mute the tv because you will not hear it until they leave.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:22AM
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azmom

Never, especially not at the price point and of the size of your house.

I don't like "open plan with a space for dinning table".

It is a glamorous term of asking your guests eating in the kitchen and looking at your dirty dishes.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:33AM
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kellyeng

Since you are building I thought I would share what we did:

We built our home without a formal dining room but made plans so that we could easily convert my office to a FD when/if we decided to sell.

My current dining room is situated like a breakfast nook off the kitchen however it's huge and fits a 4x8 farmhouse table and a china cabinet. My office door is lined up with a side entrance to the kitchen for ease of serving meals and it has a spot that would make a perfect buffet nook. The room has no built-ins, is large enough to accommodate our current table and the ceiling is plumbed/wired for a chandelier.

For staging purposes, I would convert my office to a FD & set up our current dining room with a smaller table and banquette seating.

BTW, I'm in Central TX.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:53AM
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kswl2

Jackabedy, I would consider the room you posted to be an eat-in kitchen, and would still expect another eating area in that home. The purpose of having a separate dining room is to get away from everything you see in that picture---- kitchen sounds and odors, tv, multiple doors with the concomitant traffic.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:42AM
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jasi

We do not have a separate dining room in this house and we do not miss it. Our home is brand new and designed in the open-space concept. We still host dinner parties but we've always had a casual style to our entertaining. Being able to finish plates without missing conversation has been incredible. I don't miss being excluded during my moments in the kitchen and I toss all dishes in a bin beneath the sink to soak and sort them after everyone leaves.

There is no way to know what the trend will be like in 20 years but in our current neighborhood with all new housing the open space concept is most desired.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:48PM
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christopherh

Sometimes these old threads keep popping up. This one is from 2012. But the subject is interesting.

I have always felt you should have a house that is in keeping with the neighborhood. If the houses are over 3,000 sq ft, then yes, a formal dining room should be included. Otherwise a potential buyer will bypass it.

Personally, when we built our modular, the original design had a separate dining room. It's just a 1250 sq ft ranch for the two of us.

So we eliminated the wall separating the kitchen and dining area. We then had a laundry area and large pantry installed on the opposite wall. So now we have a 14x18 eat in kitchen with a six seat dining table. The laundry and pantry are behind bi fold doors and nobody knows they're there.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 6:54AM
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alisonn

We have a 1,700 square foot house and have been hearing that the complaint (besides the small bedrooms) is the lack of a formal dining room.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 9:46AM
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