We never have had a dining table. Since I left home, never. And feel free to hack my threads
Australian houses really don't have two separate dining areas like the ones in the US seem to. It's either in the kitchen or in a dining space next to the kitchen (generally opening on to the living room). From what I have seen US ones seem to have a separate dining room and an area for more casual dining near the kitchen. Why anyone would need TWO dining tables in one house is a mystery to me ???
The houses I have lived in have just never accommodated a dining table. In most, the kitchen (where the dining table was meant to be) was either too small or a strange shape, and having a dining table would have taken up every inch of space (even a tiny one). And the others were open plan (living and kitchen) and the kind of design where the only place for a dining table is smack bang in the middle of living room- albeit only at one end. But I find dining tables look so out of place in a living room. Especially when they are taking up the majority of the room. But I am a sucker for open spaces and room for the kids to play and dance etc. Plus I hate the look of a table with chairs all randomly around it. Might look alright if you tuck every chair in perfectly every time you get up. But in a main living space with busy kids it just isn't practical and chairs all over the place around the table looks messy and cluttered.
I would like to say that if I had a specific roomy 'dining room' I might get a big table and chairs, but chances are I would find a much more fun or practical use for that room. Like a family closet (miss my family closet ) or craft room, or just another bedroom for the kids. The house we are in now is the open plan type and there is just nowhere for a dining table to go. Maybe if a dining table was my number one priority in life, I would make space for it. But it's just not important to me, not enough to take over our playing/living area.
Have to say I am baffled by the notion that not having a dining table means you can't eat meals together...I have never had a meal without my children and I all sitting right by one another. We don't have a TV so it's not like we sit around doing our own things glued to a screen. We have family meals together all day long. Only difference is where/how we are sitting. Most of the time we just sit around on the floor or giant floor cushions in a little cozy gathering. Sometimes outside. Pretty much wherever is comfy at the time, we definitely don't have a set eating place. And we have almost never had a couch either (but that's for another thread ).
A couple of options for the OP, which have probably already been mentioned, but definitely can work just as nicely...
-Giant square coffee table with floor cushions around it. I had friends who had this and it was so lovely and homey to sit and eat around with them. Just had a nice feel to it. They actually didn't have cushions, as they had thick soft carpet. But if you have hardwood or tiles, cushions would be nicer.
-Outdoor table and chairs. We live in the tropics where the weather during the day is almost always lovely and sunny outside. So I am even considering this myself. Mainly so all the crumbs are outside and I don't have to clean them up LOL. But if you lived in the north of America I can see how this might not be practical year round.
- Otherwise I would get a really narrow long table pushed against the wall (ikea used to have these) and some stools instead of chairs (ikea is good again ) then you can push them all under it completely after a meal and it will look a lot tidier!
Idea, why don't you put the dining table somewhere out of the way (garage or something?) and just see if the world doesn't fall apart without it. I promise it won't. And you can get a feel for what else might work better for your family. Or if the dining table really is a necessity for you and you miss it, then that will help in working things out too. Just an experiment to see what happens when it is removed, where and how everyone congregates...