By Tony Abel, managing director of house builders Abel Homes in Norfolk
Housebuilders have to be alert to changing trends in lifestyle – and entertaining at home, albeit more informally than in previous generations, is once again very much in vogue. Houses used to have ‘closed’ dining rooms, separate family-sized rooms where most meals were taken, formally, around a dining table. Increasingly, though, the family started to eat around the kitchen table, and the dining room became somewhere for high days and holidays. So now most new houses dispense with the separate dining room, allowing a new approach which gives a more open, flexible space for dining. There will be traditionalists who decry this approach, saying that increasingly fragmented mealtimes spent in front of the television do nothing for family cohesion and learning valuable social skills.Well, for those who feel this way, I have some good news. Dining together is back! Two things have driven this trend. The first is that the prolonged economic situation has made staying at home the new going out. Why pay to eat out when you can do it for a fraction of the cost at home? Rapidly increasing supermarket wine sales and ‘dinner party’ ready-meals are testament to this. Alongside this has come a renewed interest in sharing meals, courtesy of TV programmes such as Come Dine With Me. Apparently it is quite common for groups of friends or colleagues to mimic the format of the show, right down to the scoring (imagine going to friends for dinner and then scoring their effort!). The change here is that modern dinner parties (actually, that term has really fallen out of fashion – they tend to be ‘kitchen suppers’ now) are much more informal than before. Hosts quite reasonably don’t want to be isolated from their guests as they toil away in the kitchen – so more and more, the whole party takes place in the kitchen diner space. Housebuilders have to recognise such trends, and that is why our designs increasingly incorporate a big kitchen diner space. Once again the kitchen is becoming the heart of the home, a place where families can eat, play and interact together – and that can only be a good thing.
You can contact Tony by visiting www.abelhomes.co.uk.
Tony Abel is managing director of Abel Homes.