When asked what the heart of the home is in recent years, the kitchen or kitchen-diner has been a popular answer. As kitchens get bigger, so too do their list of uses, and they’re no longer just somewhere to cook and eat, but also a space where the kids can do their homework or guests can be entertained.
However, a new poll conducted on behalf of OceanFinance.co.uk has revealed that the kitchen, in reality, is far from being the place where households while away the most hours together. In fact, just one in 10 (11.6%) respondents said the kitchen is where they spend the most time as a group during waking hours.
In contrast, four-fifths (79.4%) of respondents named the living room as the place where they spend the longest time with each other – although women are more likely to say this than men (81.5% of women compared to 77% of men).
Interestingly, younger people aged between 18 and 24 years old are the least likely to pick the living room as the heart of the home (68.2%) and more inclined to pick the kitchen (17.3%) than the national average. The age group most likely to say they spend the majority of their time in the living room are those aged between 45 and 54 years old (84.4%).
The increasing popularity of kitchen-diners – where the kitchen is extended to create a space to eat – and the option for families to eat their meal together in the living room, perhaps in front of the TV, means that there’s one room in the average UK home that’s getting little use. When asked which room their household spent the least time together in, nearly a third (31%) of respondents said the dining room.
With many households apparently choosing to dine in the kitchen or living room, the dining room has become a space largely reserved for special occasions, such as Sunday lunch or family get-togethers. Other rooms that are seeing very little footfall from families spending time together include the conservatory (12.2%) and posh lounge (10.3%).
Ian Williams, Spokesman for Ocean Finance believes households are gravitating more towards the living room or kitchen as a place to spend time together, and dining rooms are becoming obsolete.
“One reaction to this has been the growing popularity of the kitchen-diner, and knocking through between these two rooms is a home improvement project many might consider investing in. It would appear to be a popular time to do renovation work like this too, as Ocean saw a 50% increase in home improvement loan enquiries in March, compared with January and February.”