Dining rooms are no longer on the menu

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Dining rooms are being ditched in favour of open plan living.

According to recent research, up to half a million homes in the UK could see second reception rooms knocked through this year.

The figure comes from Halifax Home Insurance, which has warned that homeowners could be putting their cover at risk if they don’t declare modifications to their property.

For several decades, the main way of converting a traditional family home has been to knock out the wall between the lounge and the dining room, making a through lounge-diner.

But more-modern thinking places the emphasis the other way, removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room instead.

Mat Barnes, of Spire Estates, Chesterfield, said: “The way that modern families have changed their living habits has now impacted on the improvements they decide to make to the interior layouts of their homes.

“The kitchen now seems to be the heart of many family homes and combined with the desire to entertain at home it is common to see clients requesting a larger family kitchen-diner rather than the more traditional lounge-dining rooms of the 70s.

“Separate dining rooms remain popular – but only in the much larger and expensive properties.”

He added: “If the knock-through improvements have been well thought through and properly designed, it can enhance the value of a property and increase its saleability.”

Ditching formal dining rooms has come about because fewer families sit down to proper meals together, many preferring to snack in front of the television and eat from their laps.

David Rochester, head of underwriting at Halifax Home Insurance, said: “Britons have clearly fallen for open-plan living and are looking at ways in which they can make better use of the space inside their homes.

“In many ways it’s sad to see the decline of the formal dining room, but it appears that they may have become superfluous to modern living where people are perhaps less likely to eat together.”

Utility rooms are also losing favour in the quest for bigger dining-kitchens and many people are sacrificing their smallest bedrooms, often used only as studies these days, to give either a bigger main bedroom or to accommodate increasingly popular en-suite facilities.

Halifax Home Insurance claims 175,000 utility rooms will disappear this year and 125,000 box-bedroom/studies will go.

Mr Barnes said: “The popularity of en-suites has been on the rise for a decade and for many clients is an absolute minimum necessity.

“This is demonstrated so much so, that many new build smaller properties come with en-suites as standard.”

But he warned: “If you are looking to improve your property and install an en-suite it can be difficult finding a balance between the added benefit versus the financial cost and the loss of space to a bedroom.

“An average en-suite, designed properly, will enhance the value of your home but only by a few thousand pounds – so spend carefully.

The Halifax Home Insurance report was based on a survey of 1,453 homeowners which also found that many people were planning to undertake the home modifications themselves.

Up to a quarter of people planning to knock down a wall in the next 12 months intend to carry out the work themselves rather than employ a professional tradesperson.

A report last year found that more than one in five homeowners knocked through a wall of their house.

Mr Rochester said: “Not only do we urge homeowners to make sure a qualified person carries out any structural work to their home, we also recommend seeking the advice of a qualified structural engineer before progressing work to knock down any walls.

“Any damage to a weight-bearing wall that results in ceiling collapse or other damage could also invalidate a buildings insurance policy.

“They should also seek building regulations advice from their local council or risk difficulty trying to sell their home further down the line.”