breakfastnookSOURCE:  Melissa Rayworth/Associated Press

” The term “breakfast nook” seems hopelessly trapped in the 1970’s, but modern homeowners are embracing the style and practicality of built-in seating in the kitchen.  ‘The idea of the built-in, with the kids piled in it and the pillows’ can bring the casual fun of a beach house or farmhouse to any home….’ says Massachusetts-based interior designer Kristina Crestin, featured this season on “This Old House.”

Maxwell Ryan, founder of, says built-in kitchen seating can maximize space in smaller kitchens and highlight a great window view.  It can even become the most distinctive design element in our home.  ‘People, especially children, will gravitate toward it…who doesn’t like to get a booth at the diner over a table?’

For an open-plan kitchen, built-in seating creates a cozy gathering place that functions like a formal dining room but is right in the heart of the cooking and socializing.  In smaller kitchens, a nook allows the dining table to be positioned along a wall or in a corner without looking as if it were stuffed awkwardly out of the way.

Built-ins also offer lots of space for storage.  The space under a built-in banquette is full of possibilities…closed cabinets can be designed to match your existing cabinetry, or you can add open shelving…to add texture with baskets, show off your cookbook collection… even use it to store large ceramic bowls that take up too much regular cabinet space.

Make sure the design matches the architecture of the rest of the house – plan carefully before starting construction.  If the nook will include a window, consider the height of the sill and whether it will hit the backs of people seated along the wall.  Be sure to use a pedestal table so you’re not bumping into table legs when sliding into the seats.

You can also add a banquette to just one side of the kitchen dining area that will give you the best of both worlds – an architectural feature that provides storage and easy seating, and the opportunity to mix things up with chairs.  This approach is also cheaper to build – and easier to remove if you want to change things around later.  Another popular option is to extend the bench the entire length of one wall, installing open or closed storage underneath – spaces near the door can serve as a landing area for shoes, backpacks and jackets.

Get creative with fabrics for loose pillows.  Spend less on them you might want to swap out those out-of-season fabrics for new ones when the urge strikes.  To highlight fabric choices, paint the backrest area behind the seating in a coordinating color.

If you love the look but want to avoid the commitment and cost of real built-in seating, you can create a faux version by installing a large upholstered bench along one wall and painting the wall around it with semi-gloss paint that is easily wiped clean to highlight the space. Add pillows and you’ve got a perfectly cozy space where guests can lean back and enjoy your kitchen.”

SOURCE:  Melissa Rayworth/Associated Press/Asheville Citizen-Times




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