Add Wow Factor to a Breakfast Nook

What was once a neglected spot just off the kitchen is now a classic, casual place to entertain.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn


When built in 2001 this breakfast nook was more of an afterthought than a standout feature. Positioned just off the U-shaped 200-square-foot kitchen, the nook receives heavy traffic both by the homeowners and their holiday guests.

Room for Dining

For a breakfast nook table to accommodate different setups for up to six people, from buffet-style brunches to more elaborate lunches or dinners, it's important to choose round pedestal tables with tops between 42 and 60 inches in diameter. Anything smaller will most likely feel too cramped once guests are seated.

Eggshell Paint

When choosing paint finishes for spaces where food and drink are served, eggshell and satin work best since they're easy to clean. Homeowners looking for a subtle, matte finish will get a look similar to true flat-finish paint, but with much more practicality. Although most designers prefer flat due to its ability to soften up spaces and also camouflage imperfections in drywall or plaster, it's likely that nicks or smudges made on flat painted surfaces will require touching up with a detail brush rather than a simple wipe of a sponge.

Choosing a Light Fixture

Proper lighting is essential to the successful design of a breakfast nook, especially for use at night. When sourcing the proper light fixture for a breakfast nook, be sure to consider the scale and proportion of the fixture in relation to the table. Sculptural fixtures such as this rope-covered orb are excellent complements to simple pedestal tables. More elaborate tables with sculptural shapes are best paired with simple light fixtures such as globe pendants or lanterns.

Upgrade Your Bulbs

An excellent way to modernize a traditional chandelier or pendant is to replace standard flame-shaped chandelier bulbs with globe bulbs. The graphic, round shape of the globe adds a clean, contemporary touch to the top of each socket.

Window Treatments

While window treatments may not seem relevant to remodeling, they're just as much used for insulation purposes as decoration. In this breakfast nook the sun's rays are strongest from 5pm until 7pm, drastically heating up the temperature at dinnertime. To help control the heat, custom drapery panels were made with thermal lining which adds an extra barrier of insulation between the window and the room itself. Conversely, during the winter months, the liner helps keep any cold air from entering the space.

Drapery Rods

Bay windows are commonly used in breakfast nooks. While the shape offers great architectural interest, the angled windows can be difficult to dress properly. When sourcing drapery rods, be sure to invest in corresponding elbows which attach to the ends of each rod, connecting them at a slight angle congruent with the pitch of the bay windows. The result is seamless and creates a tailored, architectural effect.

Table Sourcing

The key to a functional breakfast nook is using the proper table. When space is at a premium, tables with legs are not the best choice as the legs limit placement of chairs as well as seating capacity. Instead, consider pedestal tables with round tops. Since the pedestal is centered on the top, more room is left around the perimeter for extra chairs to accommodate extra guests. Round tops also increase the seating capacity since there are no corners or hard edges to separate guests from one another.

Layers of Texture

While larger spaces such as great rooms and kitchens offer many opportunities to layer decorative elements, small niche spaces such as breakfast nooks can only accommodate chairs, a table, a rug and lighting. When sourcing tables for small breakfast nooks, either choose pedestal tables with clear glass tops which make the space feel a bit larger, or go with tops which introduce interesting materials and shapes. The table was chosen for its iron top and chunky rivet details.

Slipcovered Chairs

Keeping high traffic in mind, it's wise to invest in seating which can hold up to the wear and tear of daily use. And while wooden or metal chairs are easy to wipe clean, they lack the comfort of cushy upholstered seating. An excellent alternative is to choose slipcovered Parsons chairs in breathable fabrics such as linen or cotton. Should anything spill on the chair, a quick toss in the washer and use of an iron or steamer will have the chair looking brand new with very little time and effort.

Rug and Table Ratio

Choosing area rugs for dining rooms and breakfast nooks can be complicated since there are so many table shapes and floor plans. To make the selection easy, keep in mind that round tables work best with round rugs, whereas both square and rectangular tables work well with rectangular rugs. It's important to use an area rug wide enough to encompass chairs while they're pulled out from the table. Look for rugs 24 inches wider in diameter than the table top.

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