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Houses traditionally had a kitchen where food was prepared and a separate dining room where family members would gather to share meals. Home designs have changed over the years, and nowadays many houses have a kitchen with space where family members can sit to eat.

What’s Important to Your Family?
Eat-in kitchens are typically designed for small or average-sized families. They’re convenient since everyone has easy access to food and dishes near the eating area. This can be particularly important when parents and kids are rushing to eat breakfast so they can get to work and school on time.

Dining rooms are typically used for larger or more formal gatherings. Depending on the age and layout of a particular house, a dining room may have seating for anywhere from six people to a dozen or more. If you have a large family or frequently have guests over for dinner, a separate dining room may be a necessity.

Although a dining room is typically located close to the kitchen, it can still be a hassle to carry food and dishes back and forth when serving a large group. On the other hand, some people find it hard to enjoy a meal when they can see dirty pots and pans and feel as though they must finish their meal quickly to clean up. Eating in a separate dining room can therefore be more relaxing.

Sometimes people buy a home with a space that is intended to serve as a dining room, but they choose not to use it that way. If you would rather use a room as a home office or for some other purpose, that’s fine. Just make sure that everyone is clear about the room’s intended function, so it doesn’t wind up filled with toys or junk mail.

Thinking About Remodeling?
If you already own a home and you’re thinking about renovating, consider how you eat meals, the number of people who are typically present, how much space you have and the advantages and disadvantages of your current arrangement. If you would like more space or would prefer not to have to look at a mess while eating, or if you plan to expand your family in the future, it might make sense to remodel your home to create a separate dining room.

Which House Design is Right for Your Family?
If you’re looking for a new home, think about how your family members usually eat meals. If you prefer to keep things simple and have a relatively small family, an eat-in kitchen may work fine. On the other hand, if you have a large family or like to entertain, you might appreciate having a separate dining room, even if you only used it occasionally. Discuss the pros and cons of each with your family and your real estate agent.