“Distractions like radios, TVs, commuting, busy lives, almost everything seemed to take attention away from the eating together, conversing … and making eye contact,” Lockhart writes. “With fewer diners at home at the same time, the dinner table became a symbol of neglect.”
For most busy Americans, their formal dining areas became reserved for special occasions like a holiday meal. Perhaps you’d break out the special dishes and set the table a couple times a year, if that.
“The dining room table became a desk, a sorting table for laundry, almost anything but a place to dine,” Lockhart writes. “Every holiday or special occasion meant clearing off the debris on the table, dusting off the fine china, only to see it go back into disuse after the meal was over.”
As lifestyles have become less formal, so has the style of gathering to eat in our homes.
Today’s dining rooms are more likely to come in a variety of styles. Rather than a matching set of dining room furntiture, many homeowners now look to colorful chairs, funky lighting options and bench seating to make their dining table a centerpiece in an open floor plan.
But, despite the change, Lockhart notes that trends tend to rise and fall.
And now, as folks may be desperate for community and connection, the rise of the dining room may well return.