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On having–or not having–a dining room table

I’m back! After a couple of months of moving (twice) and getting settled in, it’s time to get back to writing. Post with all the details about where we are to come soon. Thanks for coming back to see me!

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There was an article on Hip Diggs some time ago that I find myself thinking about a lot. In it, the author posited that some aspects of minimalism are selfish. As a whole, I don’t agree with him—that’s the subject of another post—but once in a while, I wonder.

Take the matter of a dining room table.

Justin and I don’t typically eat at a proper table. We have pretty place mats that we spread on our coffee table, and we eat side by side there; or we eat on our patio outside, if it isn’t too hot. In our apartment in Kansas, we did buy a dining set about six months after moving in, partly because it seemed like something we were supposed to have and partly because Justin’s aunt and uncle were planning to visit and we thought we ought to have someplace to feed them properly. (They didn’t end up being able to visit after all.)

All in all, we used that table maybe a dozen times over 18 months. In that little apartment, it definitely wasn’t worth the space it took up, even though we shopped smart and bought one with drop leaves. It was especially inconvenient because it impeded access to my electric keyboard, which meant I didn’t play piano nearly as much as I would have liked (and playing piano is something that brings me joy). Looking back, it would have been much wiser to find a friend that had a card table and folding chairs, borrow them as needed, and cultivate a culture of sharing.

Before we moved, we gladly sold the set.

When we moved here to California, we didn’t buy a dining room table. Leaving it out freed up the space for Hugo’s (large and unsightly, but necessary) crate, as well as a slender desk that Justin has wanted for a long time. We do have a small patio table that we’ve crowded three around, but for the most part we sit on our loveseat together. I love that we have that extra space—considering this 750spft apartment is already over 100sqft larger than our last one, having no dining set makes our living room feel enormously airy—and I’m glad we didn’t spend the money.

But at the same time (and this is where the Hip Diggs article comes in), I feel a little wistful that I can’t invite people over to a formal meal. I occasionally really enjoy pulling out the stops and serving a nice dinner to some friends, and without a biggish table, it’s really rather impossible. For example, I’d love to invite my boss and his wife to dinner. But one doesn’t just ask one’s boss to eat on the couch or floor, even if they’re as easygoing as mine is. We could invite them out to dinner, and treat them, but it isn’t the same as hosting someone for a lovely evening in our home. And, if I’m being totally honest, I would feel a little embarrassed about seating them in folding chairs, too. (It’s definitely something I’m examining in myself.)

So, I go round and round: Is it selfish to not have a dining room table, which precludes the ability to be gracious dinner hosts, or just a sensible choice for people who don’t need one? Does the daily convenience of space (and $200 saved) outweigh the inconvenience of accommodating guests?

And, for you, readers: Have you ever considered whether you really need or love your dining room table?

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2 thoughts on “On having–or not having–a dining room table

  1. That’s pretty impressive minimalism! Reading the title I was thinking you’d say most people don’t need a dining room table because they have a KITCHEN table and almost never use the dining room table, but it sounds like you have neither. We for sure need ours with 2 kids, and I can’t imagine eating on the love seat or coffee table every meal, but good for you for recognizing that you don’t, even though everyone else has one. I do strongly believe though that most dining room tables (and dining rooms period)(and living rooms) are completely pointless. Both my parents and grandparents have dining rooms & living rooms that are rarely to never used and take up valuable square footage that they would much rather have in their cramped kitchens and family rooms. Our frequent and large family gatherings, everyone is cramped into a crowed kitchen and family room, while there is double that space just wasted and empty. (or so full of my mothers overflowing craft supply stash that we couldn’t dine there even if we wanted to)

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