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Where is the dining room?

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How many times have you walked into a new home with a buyer and there is a very small or no dining room?

Numerous homes being built today are forgoing the formal dining room and making that room a den. Is it a wise decision? This can mean disaster for all invested if the designer or builder is wrong.

I was asked to preview a beautiful new home which had been on the market for almost a year. It had been staged before with a furniture company so I was anxious to find out why it was not sold. In the first few minutes I told the builder why I thought he had a problem, no dining room. There was a small breakfast nook to accommodate only four people, but in a house with five bedrooms this was not going to work.

I suggested that he drop a nice large pendent light in the den instead of the flush mount that he had installed, and I'll stage it as a dining room. Five weeks later he had multiple offers.

When a family walks in their potential home for the first time, they will envision all aspects of their lives. Where are they going to work and play? Where will they entertain their friends? Where will their parents sit when they come for Thanksgiving? The breakfast nook?!

It's absolutely true, people work a lot more now than ever before - often from home. Families may not eat together as often, or have as much time to entertain as they used to. Still they yearn for a lifestyle that carries on these traditions. Regardless of what the reality is, you will kill the sale if you think the formal dining room is a thing of the past.

Helping you get your listing SOLD!
Angela Voss
Designology Home Staging
Spokane WA

Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

IN Manhattan New York market, sometimes having a dining room is a luxury. Many buyers convert that dining room space into a home office, babys room, second bedroom or some sort of 'other room' so they can use it for what is suitable for their lifestyle. It is tough to really have it as dining room especially square footage is so precious in this big city.

May 30, 2010 04:34 AM
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


Creative thinking like you just demonstrated can quickly reposition a dysfunctional, hard-to-sell home and make it salable again. Often the money involved doesn't have to be that much.

May 30, 2010 02:32 PM
Cheryl Cudmore
Sapphire Staging - Brantford, ON
CSP, Brantford to Burlington ON

I think it depends on the dwelling itself. If it is a family home - 3 bedrooms or more, I would recommend it feature a dining room for family gatherings. If it's a small one bedroom condo, a dining room is not necessary.

May 31, 2010 06:14 AM
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

My favorite stager Craig Schiller has a rule -- there has to be a space with a table and enough chairs for each bedroom, plus room for two more chairs. He thinks chairs communicate how many people are supposed to live in the house. The breakfast nook for a five bedroom house was clearly a builder boo-boo that he paid for with over a year of market time. Congrats on solving his problem.

May 31, 2010 08:19 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Wise post...the expectation of a buyer isn't necessarily the same as how they will use a space, when actually living in a home.    The traditional layout, though, is important to show.

May 31, 2010 09:48 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I see many people who don't require a formal dining room.  They may want space for one, but it isn't always possible in smaller homes.

May 31, 2010 06:13 PM
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

I gave up the formal dining room about 10 years ago and really haven't missed it. Of course, we're empty nesters now.

May 31, 2010 06:24 PM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

here's the thing we always teach - people who don't want a formal dining room will always be able to figure out another use for the space... they've been doing it for a while now, people who want one, will never see another space turned into one.  You have to work for everyone and I've had the same issue and same solution several times before with the same results.  A formal dining room is simply important to many people - if you want to sell a 5 bdrm house you need one  there... and by the way - just because it's a 'formal dining room' doesn't mean it has to be 'formal'...

Jun 01, 2010 10:11 AM
Roberta Anderson
Hearth & Home Staging - Silverdale, WA
Hearth & Home Staging, Staging Kitsap County

"Still they yearn for a lifestyle that carries on these traditions." Angela, this is so true. A buyer carries all their hopes and dreams into the new home. Well done!

Jun 01, 2010 02:43 PM
Ross Quintana
Real E Smarter - Spokane, WA
Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966

It definitely depends on your market. In Spokane most people are traditional and want the formal dining room, but in other more progressive cities I can see a trend towards not wanting one. Good Post Angela. Welcome to AR by the way.

Jun 01, 2010 05:12 PM
Joanne Klaassen
Living By Design - Winnipeg, MB

Home Staging is all about showing the function of a room.  This is huge...Kudos Angela



Jun 02, 2010 03:56 AM
Anna Dovger
Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607 - The Woodlands, TX
Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX

 Note 1. Most of the buyers want dining room. Later they will figure out that it's not really used often and maybe reconfigure, but it will happened later after they will be in their house for at leat a year.

Note 2 .If you put an office or something else in to the dining room area it will confuse buyers. Now go to Note 1.

Great post, Angela

Jun 03, 2010 03:13 AM
Mike Woods

The formal dining room debate continues. It's so nice to have for holidays and parties but they'll soon find out it mainly a showplace. For staging purposes a dining room is a must.

Jun 03, 2010 06:33 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

When my husband and I built our home three years ago, he wanted to lose the dining room for a larger eat-in kitchen.  I said absolutely not.  The home will appeal to more buyers if there's a formal dining room.

Jun 06, 2010 03:41 PM
Sussie Sutton
David Tracy Real Estate - Houston, TX
David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers

In a house I  need a BIG kitchen, living room and dining room. I have two brothers and two sisters each have 2.5 ....and three children and three grandchildren and three great grand children.....AND FINALLY 52 first cousins.... they all like to visit!

Jul 15, 2015 05:53 AM
Kristin Hamilton CA REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway California Realty - Beaumont, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning

Hi Angela & Stephen Hardiman 

Great post and it is true that sometimes it is hard for buyers to imagine their furniture. I just sold a house that was empty and every time I showed it I seemed to get the same question "Where is the living room and dining room" as without furniture is is hard to envision.

Jul 17, 2015 02:02 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-739-3843

2010 and still pertinent....great article! 

Jul 24, 2015 01:44 PM
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 602.710.8161 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Great article. I often hear Buyers saying "where are we going to put the dining tabel?", "will our couch fit here?". When there is a staging suggestion, it's always easier for them.

Aug 15, 2015 01:12 AM
Derrick Guevremont
Counselor Realty of Rochester - Rochester, MN
Rochester MN Homes for Sale

I see it a lot lately but not necessarily in new homes.  Some ranch homes built in the early 60's here have an uncomfortable 3rd bedroom that is a walk-through off of the kitchen.  I think it was intended to be a bedroom, dining room, or den, but if it isn't staged it is just an awkward room that's hard to picture as a bedroom for sure.  But a small walk-through dining room with two doors and a closet is kind of weird too.

Mar 03, 2016 01:47 AM
Cheryl Dukes . . . . . Intown Atlanta
Guaranteed Offer for your Home - eXp realty - Atlanta, GA

Even if you don't plan on using the dining room, you still want to know that the house has one.

Aug 26, 2017 01:23 PM