Rethinking The Dining Nook

breakfast nook kitchen wood flooring

Dining nooks can be cute, functional and well-designed. Look at these few ideas for inspiration.


In most homes I’ve lived in after I moved out on my own, dining space has been at a premium. One apartment had literally no dining space at all, and the living room was basically a big mess, so I ate in my bedroom.

Another one only had a breakfast counter, and I’m rather short, so I didn’t like eating on a stool. I ate on the living room table instead.

And in our current space, there’s a little space for a table, but it’s so tight and generally uncomfortable that I basically use the kitchen table for cooking or sewing. (Sewing is my latest hobby. Definitely got the bug. Anyway.) We eat, you guessed it, in the living room.

But eating in the living room isn’t conducive to good discussions and maintaining a healthy relationship to food and to each other, so I’m rethinking our dining nook–and here are some of these thoughts.

A small, round table

When it comes to dining nooks, I prefer small, round tables to the square one. Square tables require a specific chair setup, whereas round tables can accommodate chairs anywhere around them.

I also like round tables because they balance usually square countertops, windows and cupboards. Round tables have a certain energy and a lack of hierarchy that I find particularly appealing. And they’re just too cute to handle!

A table with leaves

One thing that saves space when necessary is a table with leaves. Our (round) table actually has leaves on two sides, and both of them are usually down, unless I’m sewing. When I need more space, I can just lift the leaf that’s available, and I’ve got some extra inches to cut, or draw, or put bowls filled with ingredients or dozens of cookies to cool.

Whether your table is square or round, leaves are the perfect way to maximize space in a dining nook. You can keep them down when it’s just you and your family, and bring them up when you have visitors.

Art on the wall

A dining nook’s not really complete without some personal touches to make it really homey and welcoming. For this, I like to add some art on the wall above the table. Because a dining nook is, by definition, small, a few accessories go a long way to personalize it.

For decorating a dining nook, I favor a series of smaller pieces rather than a big one. This way, the art doesn’t overwhelm the space. You can feature several smaller photos and graphic art–maybe even something you or someone you know made!

Interesting chairs

With a small nook, you don’t have much space to develop an interesting visual theme. This is where mismatched, original chairs come along.

You need chairs. Obviously. Unless you like eating standing up, in which case, why do you have a table in the first place? So, if you need chairs, why not choose chairs that are visually stunning, to give style to your dining nook?

dining nook banquet seating

I particularly like the mismatched chair look. Not only is it sustainable (just get chairs from a bunch of moving sales, your friends or second-hand stores) but it’s also original. You can get plenty of visual punch without even trying. “Oh, these? Just found them around and thought they’d look great together.”

A small table accessory

The last thing you can use to liven up a dining nook is a small item to set on your table as decoration.

A bit of organic greenery is traditional for kitchens and dining rooms: a single flower, some branches in a glass. But you can move away from the traditional and use unexpected accessories: river stones in a bowl, a wood sculpture.

Anything that you love and makes you feel at home belongs on your table, so don’t hesitate to play around with ideas and different accessories until you find something that feels just right.

Nooks and crannies

I like dining nooks. They’re intimate and homey. I certainly prefer them to formal dining rooms, which can be a bit intimidating and empty. Small spaces don’t have to be annoying or impractical; in fact, small spaces can be beautiful and design-conscious… and force you to keep clutter to a minimum.

How’s your dining nook? Share your small eating space designs with our community!

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