Breakfast nooks provide all-day functionality and cozy vibes

The term “breakfast nook” is deceptive. After all, when you have an area in the kitchen for a table and seating, it gets used at all hours of the day.

“It’s funny. It’s called a breakfast nook, but most people do have most of their meals there. It’s a place to do a little bit of work with your laptop or homework for kids,” said Nancy Keenan, owner of Harris Park Homes, About Design (an interior design business) and a real estate agent with Keller Williams Peachtree Road.

Jonathan Scott, one of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” said the breakfast nook remains a popular item on clients’ wish lists, too.

“We definitely still hear it. I just built a nook into a kitchen a few months back,” he said earlier this spring, before visiting Atlanta to promote the book, “Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide to Finding and Fixing Your Perfect House.”

The breakfast nook typically has the connotation of a built-in, cozy area for meals, said Rick Goldstein, architect and company principal with Atlanta-based Mosaic Group [Architects and Remodelers]. The nooks provide more intimate dining spaces and can fit with any style of home, he adds.

When a client contacted Mosaic to remodel a dysfunctional kitchen with an awkward layout, the scope included a larger footprint than originally planned. They created a more spacious kitchen with two casual eating spaces — the island and a built-in, custom banquette with a retro design — for the family of six.

A breakfast nook also can be a way to keep cooks company, especially if you don’t have an island or bar seating.

“Nobody wants a lonely kitchen,” Keenan said.

Saving space for storage

With a banquette, you can create storage for pots and pans, kitchen equipment that’s not often used, linens, cookbooks and other items.

When Keenan renovated a 1950s home in Atlanta, she modified the layout to shift the location of the kitchen. Right as the countertops end, there’s a breakfast nook with a round table.

“The space is so narrow that I had to build it in as a banquette, which is actually really popular,” Keenan said. “A round table makes it easier to get in and out.”

In another home, she used a sideboard to provide storage and display space.

Satisfying design and functionality

In addition to determining what type of storage is needed, homeowners interested in a breakfast nook need to consider these key questions, Keenan said.

Do you need a table that can expand to accommodate more people, especially if you don’t have a formal dining room?

Do you prefer chair seating or bench seating, both in terms of comfort and style?

For lighting, Keenan often uses pendants, and she’s seeing more people grouping multiple pendants to create a layered effect over the table.

Breakfast nooks also can bring color to neutral kitchens, said Julie Montgomery, an Atlanta interior designer and owner of Julie Montgomery Interiors.

When one of her clients wanted a multi-purpose space for meals, playtime and relaxing that was friendly for a toddler and pets, Montgomery selected a washable Sunbrella fabric for the custom bench, along with vibrant, patterned pillows and window treatments. The pedestal-style table had a scale that worked with the space. Most breakfast nooks have windows, and this one had a view of the outdoors as well.

“If you want an inviting space to linger in, but don’t have room for a built-in bench, consider mixing chair styles or adding in a couple of upholstered ottomans for a (seating) arrangement that’s fun, functional and color-filled,” Montgomery said.

Traci Rylands contributed to this article.

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