Downsizing Pains- What To Do with the Dining Room Table?

dining table

What Will Happen to the Dining Room Table?

When people are looking to move into a retirement community, it often involves downsizing into a smaller home. The process can be difficult, especially when it comes to addressing key pieces of furniture that have a lot of memories, like the dining room table.

I remember when my husband and I bought our dining room table. It was a big expense, and the purchase made us feel like actual grown-ups. We wanted something that was made of real wood, and that we would have for years. Our formal table has been the place where holiday meals are held. It’s where big projects and big decisions are made. Unlike the kitchen table or counter where every day meals take place, the dining room table is the Board Room of the home, where all those important moments seem to happen, whether it’s making college decisions or eating Christmas Dinner, or setting it up as a buffet for parties.

What to do with the dining room table – and all the emotions that go along with it- can become a real concern when people are considering a move into a senior living community like Kendal-Crosslands. The dining room table is a bridge that’s hard to cross, and can hold people back from making a decision about moving, even if it’s clear that a senior retirement community like ours is a great decision for them.

You love the table, but…

Sunroom in a Kendal-Crosslands cottage

Most senior living cottages and apartments don’t have a formal dining room.  There may be an eat-in kitchen, or a patio with a dining table and chairs. For residents here at Kendal-Crosslands communities, dinner is part of the meal plan, so the need for a formal dining table goes away. And just like at home, the dining room at Kendal-Crosslands communities is a time to gather with friends and reconnect about the day, just like it always has been at home.

But what about family?

For those big family get-togethers, Kendal-Crosslands has various options including opportunities to have a private family dinner at the farmhouse, a barbeque dining on the patio, or even an elegant catered dinner in a private setting. You can still have that big family meal with all your relatives at the table, so saying farewell to the actual table itself doesn’t mean losing the joy of having multiple generations gathered for a celebration or holiday meal together.

Although there’s no need for a big table, that doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with the problem of what should become of the dining room table and all the memories created around it. But there are ways to make sure your table can act as a new beginning and continue to bring people together in a new home and with renewed purpose.

Finding a Home and New Use

Finding a new home for your table may seem challenging at first, especially if your family have their own tables, and younger generations may be living in apartments where a big table isn’t as practical. What other options are there?

  • Of course, there is an opportunity to sell the table, and let it have a life with another family who will make memories around it just like you.
  • You might be able to take it to a carpenter and have it downsized so it does work in your new home, but this is not always possible.
  • You could donate it to a local non-profit that might find it a perfect piece for their meeting or board room.
  • You could also consider donating it to a place like the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop, that sells used furniture. You can get a tax deduction, and know your table will be used to help generate funds to help others find housing.

Saying goodbye to such a physically big piece of furniture like the dining room table, that is often the symbolic center of the family, can be hard. But you shouldn’t let the table or any other piece of furniture act as a barrier separating you from the retirement you’ve dreamed of. After all, the important aspects of what the table represents- family- is still there and intact, whether the table itself is or not.  

Whether the dining room table lives on as a family heirloom in your family or with someone else, the memories you’ve made there will be with you always. By letting go of the dining room table, you’ll be able to move on to the next stage in your life, and you’ll be giving the table itself the opportunity to continue to bring new people together and share memories like the ones you’ve made there. That’s a gift that really does keep on giving.