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06 February . 2020

Is the formal dining room dead? It’s complicated

Remember the formal dining room? Most of us probably recall that separate, closed-off space, where the family gathered maybe a few times a year. But whether we want a formal dining room in our own new home seems to be a matter of generational preference.

In the latest “What Home Buyers Really Want” report from the National Association of Home Builders, nearly half of Millennial homebuyers said they preferred a new home with an open concept plan over one with a more closed-off layout. This preference for open living areas was stronger among Millennials than any other age group.

Perry Homes model dining room

A 2019 survey of homebuyers by Pulte found that two-thirds of respondents preferred an open concept plan to more defined space. By a wide margin, Millennials stated a preference for open living areas with few or no walls. On the other hand, dedicated formal dining rooms were preferred by half of Baby Boomers, and by an even larger majority of Gen Xers.

For-sale home listings mentioning open-concept plans have more than doubled in the past five years, according to a Zillow analysis of the 35 top U.S. metro areas. By contrast, the number of listings mentioning a formal dining room dipped slightly.

Drees model home kitchen

"Open concept living areas really appeal to younger, Millennial buyers who aspire to a different lifestyle than their parents' generation," said Zillow lifestyle expert Amanda Pendleton. "Millennials make up the largest group of home buyers and they want to live and entertain in a more casual way. As they become parents, open concept living areas allow them to keep an eye on their young children while they're preparing meals."

Chesmar model home kitchen

Even if homebuyers say they want a formal dining room, research suggests that this may still be one of the least-used rooms in the house. A team of researchers affiliated with the University of California at Los Angeles recently used cameras to record how 32 dual-income families actually lived in their homes. The results showed that the kitchen and family room areas were used the most, with very little use of formal areas.

Great Room in model home

Many of the fully furnished model homes in Elyson’s Model Home Village feature open concept living and dining areas. The interiors are filled with many creative ideas for decorating and living in these open spaces.

Highland homes model home kitchen

If you want a formal dining room, you can find that too at Elyson. Many of the plans offered by our leading homebuilders offer the best of both worlds – flex spaces that can be used as formal dining rooms for those that want them, or can be built as studies with French doors, craft rooms or extra bedrooms.

Explore all home plans offered at Elyson, at prices from the low $300,000s to the $800,000s.