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Report: Our Homes Don't Need Formal Dining Rooms

After studying 32 dual-income families in the Los Angeles area from cameras, UCLA-affiliated researchers conclude homeowners are not using their formal living and dining rooms. Curbed’s Kate Wagner says families spend most of their time in the kitchen and informal living areas. Although many people want that extra square footage, it is important for builders to recognize the want from the need.

“Entertaining space,” as it is marketed by builders, realtors, media, and popular culture, is, more often than not, a want that has been rationalized and internalized, and thus feels like a need. But now that science proves that nobody uses their formal living and dining spaces, it’s time for us to sit down and have a struggle session with “space for entertaining.”

Elite houses, from the domus of a Pompeian politician to the Palace of Versailles, from Biltmore to McMansions in subdivisions named Biltmore, have always maintained a separation of formal and informal space. The absence of all that extra space (combined with the standardization and mass production of building materials) is what made detached single-family housing inexpensive and accessible to different classes in the first place. One of the simplest reasons so many clamor for formal spaces is because they are a signifier of wealth and prestige, a sign of having “made it.”

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