Article by: Susan Redman

Nothing brings a family or group of friends closer together than sharing a meal. It’s even better when they are comfortably rubbing shoulders as well. Kitchen nooks and dining alcoves are ideal for such intimacy, making the dining experience especially enjoyable. Here are 12 inspiring kitchen nook designs to install in your dream home.

1. First-class compartment. In keeping with the warm, minimalist elements featured elsewhere in this California ranch house, this nook has cedar ceilings, Sheetrock walls,exposed timber framing and structural steelwindows. The site for the house is edged with mature evergreen trees and opens to a field with views out to the Pacific Ocean. With its panoramic-size window and glorious outlook to a countryside vista, this sleek dine-in nook is a stylish way to eat at home. 

2. Norwegian wood. In this country kitchen, designed by architect Christine Fikseaunet, a simple window seat with an upholstered banquette cushion is paired with a wood table to create a casual dining setting. With the addition of a small screen in the corner of the nook, it also allows for communal television viewing among family members or friends.

3. Covered dining. This dining space has a wood alcove built up and over a table, creating an elegant dining space that looks like a private dining booth in an upscale bistro. The mix of materials, from the timber paneling to the channeled upholstery and stone table, adds sophistication to the alcove’s slick urban look.

4. Rough hewn. This industrial-style dining arrangement is easy to copy. Find a wood trestle table and some midcentury modern chairs, and fit them into a small area of your home, preferably with a window view. The tight space and brick and plaster walls give the dining area a congenial air.

5. Bright and breezy. This built-in banquette needs little more than a small table and a couple of light-colored chairs to complete a fine-looking and functional kitchen nook. The window bench extends from the end of the kitchen cabinets to create an ideal space between two big windows. The banquette can also double as storage with a hinged lid seat covered by cushions.

6. Budget box. Make the most of a breakfast nook by installing a complete compartment that keeps diners out of the way of the cooking action in the kitchen. Additionally, those on a budget will benefit from copying the style of the boxed-in nook pictured here. Inexpensive wood can be painted white to make the area bright. To add value, choose a more expensive tabletop and treat it with a good sealant oil to keep it looking good with use.

7. Geometric play. This small dining nook was designed by Kimball Starr Interior Design in San Francisco. Starr says her clients wanted the area off the kitchen to be used as an activity nook for playing board games with friends; she added a touch of grown-up glamour with impressive geometric pendants and a custom banquette upholstered in a playful fabric.

8. Cool and clean. This spectacular dining banquette is sited in the middle of a living space in a renovated 1960s apartment in Melbourne. It was decorated by interior design company Mr. Mitchell within a stand-alone, all-white cube. This “allowed us to introduce the macramé screen, which is a fun reference to the retro era of the apartment,” says Mr. Mitchell director Andrew Mitchell. 

The banquette is a focal point of the home, providing an intimate place for family gatherings or a quiet place for reading or working.

9. Retro kitchen and dining nook. This small eating nook would work well in a house with midcentury aspirations. It’s plain and simple but has been well decorated with a set of shelves that also acts as a divider. 

The wall map is a retro classroom touch that can encourage guests to share after-dinner stories of their world travels. Decorating the area with fun travel posters from faraway places can also encourage the exchange of personal travel stories and tips for future adventures.

10. Garden fresh. Children’s colorful artwork has been framed and hung to personalize this charming nook. This is a great idea for families, especially when a kitchen nook is also used as a homework and craft center. 

Installing a small U-shaped nook is a clever way to divide a kitchen with a generous expanse of floor. Take advantage of the extra room and install a nook big enough to accommodate plenty of dinner party guests.

11. Corner nook. Custom woodwork and banquette seating can create a sophisticated corner nook in the kitchen. In this L-shaped arrangement, the wood grain of the built-in banquette is matched to the kitchen countertops and complemented by a white table and cabinets. To add color and interest, it has been decorated with a variety of flea market finds.

12. Dramatic flair. In an all-white kitchen, introduce color and texture with bold and cheerfully patterned upholstery. Brighten up the nook with glass pendants, a colorful table setting and freshly picked flowers. Note how the pullout drawers under the benches provide storage — a perfect place in which to keep all your board, card and trivia games for after-dinner fun. 

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