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Of What Use Is a Dining Room in Hawaii?

You might deem this post “a First World problem” and I’d agree with you. With too many people struggling to feed their families, any concern about expensive dining tables seems silly. But there remains an economic impact to this tale that hurts me where I live, in my penny-pinching pocketbook.

For 13 years, we had a large home in Lakeway, Texas, that did not have an official dining room. Instead, we had an elongated kitchen / dining combo that held a Tuscan style, carved wooden dining set.

Many years prior as a single career gal, I had bought this table and six chairs at a high-end furniture outlet in Dallas. Originally pricey, the set was marked down to half, which I paid off monthly through a credit card. I was quite proud of myself. From Dallas apartments to Austin townhomes, I dragged that dining set with me. Many family meals were held around it, and I even added two new chairs to make a set for eight.

Then I met Bill, we married, and my dining set wound up in the Lakeway home we bought to celebrate our marriage. Problem was, the house had no official dining room. When the table expanded to seat eight people, the area became quite tight. Throughout the 13 years we lived there, I kept wondering how to add an official dining room to this house, something spacious, with a place for a sideboard or china cabinet.

But, Where's the Dining Room?

When we decided to downsize and put our Lakeway home on the market, we quickly realized that many buyers objected to our home not having a dining room. It seems that lots of people are like me, dragging furniture from house to house. That’s one of the reasons our house sat on the market for three years, but when we finally sold it, our next home in Steiner Ranch had a living-dining combination that required a different look than the Tuscan table and chairs I’d been so proud to own.

I tried to sell the old set on various sites, but no one will pay much of anything for used furniture, even a solid wood table with ornate carvings and graceful lines. Sadly, my dining set became a Goodwill donation. I can still see the movers hoisting that table into the back of the truck. Remembering the day I’d bought it, my heart was broken, but I hoped another family might enjoy this set as much as my own family did over the years.

Hooker or Hooked?

For our Steiner Ranch home, my interior designer picked out a Hooker Furniture Solano dining set that was far more expensive than I wanted to pay, but she assured me that it would "make a statement" when visitors came to call. I kept protesting the price, but the set was indeed beautiful, so I did my best to love it as much as I'd loved the set I’d dragged place to place.

Draggin’ It to Hawaii

Only 18 months later, Bill and I escaped our Covid confines for an adventure of life on Hawaii Island, which meant we had to choose between selling the furniture we had bought only months before—and get perhaps 10 cents on the dollar—or pay a huge amount to have everything shipped overseas.

I chose what I calculated to be the more economical option – ship it. The cost was about half of what we'd paid for the new and elaborate furnishings. That amount still pained my gut, but we had made enough on both house sales to pay for what seemed highly extravagant expenses.

At Last, an Official Dining Room

Unfortunately, several of the new pieces from the Steiner Ranch home would not fit into our much smaller Hawaii house, so I sold one gorgeous leather sofa for half what I paid for it, and I have tried to sell a huge stone-topped coffee table that still sits in my garage because I cannot get anyone to pay me even half price for it.

As for the Hooker dining set, our Hawaii home indeed has a separate dining area for it to occupy, one of our key considerations when house-hunting. Why drag this expensive furniture across the Pacific if you're then going to sell it to someone for pennies?

But, Does Anyone Sit There?

We’ve had several parties already, but when guests are here, no one sits at the Hooker table. In fact, most people gather their drinks and food, then head outside to our lanais. With views like this, wouldn't you?

And so, instead of a dining room where guests chat over drinks or food, our beautiful table instead has become a convenient place for my husband to plop his wallet, car keys, golf hat, golf tees, golf balls, sunglasses, HOA documents, the mail, packages, and any other thing that needs a place to land. Admittedly, I am guilty of plopping too.

Now the thought occurs that there might be a better use of the dining area in our Hawaii home. Perhaps a separate office? My desk currently perches in a guest bedroom. Or perhaps this area could become an extension of the living room, an area that could have held the gorgeous sofa I sold for half price, and even the coffee table still sitting in my garage. But then, I'd have to buy other furnishings to complete the space, spending more money. Sigh.

Perhaps this Post Will Help me Get a Plan.

Again, I realize these are First World complaints, but as the daughter of a Depression-Era mother, pinching pennies is ingrained within me. I'm looking for ways to gain, not to lose. It’s likely that time will tell us what to do, but so far, an inside dining room appears to be a useless space on Hawaii Island, where everyone would rather sit outside and enjoy the breezes and views.

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