Ideas and Inspirations for the Home

How to Design a Cozy Breakfast Nook for Casual Dining

Apr 28, 2023

Design Tip

family of 4 eating at breakfast nook

Food influencers, nutritionists and your mom all agree – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Taking the time to sit down and enjoy your meal ensures that you have the fuel to start your day strong and makes mornings feel less chaotic. One great way to establish a streamlined breakfast routine is to create a breakfast nook. This is a small, cozy dining space designed for breakfast, snacks or other casual meals that don’t warrant setting the formal dining room table. Follow these steps from the pros at Star Furniture to design the perfect breakfast nook for your home.

1. Survey your kitchen

The traditional breakfast nook is designed around a built-in cushioned window seat with additional seating on the opposite side of the table. If you have this kind of space in your kitchen, you’re set. However, the majority of homes are not designed with this kind of set-up. Fortunately, there’s a way to work a breakfast nook into your home regardless of the layout. Start designing your cozy space by deciding where in your home you’d like it to be.

Look at the space you have both in and near your kitchen. Ideally, your breakfast nook would be in the kitchen to make casual dining easier. Depending on the layout of your home though, you might be better off setting up your breakfast spot somewhere else.

If your home utilizes an open-concept layout, you might tuck your breakfast area in between the kitchen and the living area. Oftentimes, designers will add a breakfast nook to fill up awkward corners or unused spaces in a home. Unless you have a totally unused corner of your home, you’ll probably need to rearrange some of your furniture to make room for your nook.

While you’re thinking about where to place your breakfast nook, consider the amount of time and effort you want to invest in this project. Designing a breakfast nook can be as simple as buying a few key furniture pieces or as involved as installing a built-in bench. Decide upfront whether you’ll be working with your existing layout or considering renovations.

2. Start with the table

Once you’ve found the perfect space, it’s time to start shopping for furniture. Just about any table shape has the potential to look great. A breakfast nook is generally made to seat 3-5 people, therefore, you can opt for a smaller table than you might choose for your dining room. Chic bistro tables, taller pub tables and four-top square tables are all great options for this purpose. You’ll probably have to blend the style of your breakfast nook furniture with the decor in an existing room. So, make sure to keep that in mind as you shop for casual dining tables. This doesn’t mean you’re looking for an exact match. The small space of your breakfast nook is actually a great opportunity to play with bolder colors and patterns. For example, if you have a farmhouse kitchen, you’ll want your breakfast nook to fit with the established rustic look. If your nook will be positioned off of your mid-century modern living room, experiment with adhering to the mid-century style while incorporating playful pops of color and texture.

casual dining furniture for a breakfast nook

3. Pull up a chair (or four)

Comfortable seating is a staple for any breakfast nook. Depending on your home’s style, the amount of space you’re working with and what type of table you chose, you might opt for benches, dining chairs or bar stools. Since you’ll only have a few chairs, you can look for quirky shapes or rich colors to make the space more interesting. As a general rule, it is probably best to stick with more compact chairs so as not to overwhelm a smaller space.

4. Bring in a banquette bench

A banquette bench is a piece of furniture that usually runs along the length of a table and can sit anywhere from 2-4 people. This type of seating is usually cushioned for additional comfort, much like you might find at a booth in a trendy cafe or restaurant. Banquette benches usually provide seating on one side of the table, with multiple chairs arranged on the opposite side facing the wall. This type of seating can usually be found in the following configurations: straight line, L-shape or U-shape. An L-shaped banquette bench is a great way to optimize seating in a small corner while avoiding a cramped look and feel.

While banquette seats are traditionally built-in to the wall, plenty of stylish freestanding options are also available. Either of these choices has its own distinct benefits. Freestanding banquette benches are quite convenient to purchase and set up. They’re usually less expensive than built-ins, and don’t require the same level of commitment. If you choose to go with a freestanding bench, position it against a wall for the genuine, French cafe look.

Built-in benches will require either some DIY construction or the hiring of a contractor, so they’re a bit more of an investment. However, installing a banquette that fits perfectly against your wall or into a corner is a great way to make use of your space and optimize your floor-plan. For extra functionality, consider designing a built-in that features under-the-seat storage that can be used for seasonal decor, fine dinnerware, and other items that are not frequently used.

Banquettes are usually upholstered or cushioned, which means that they’re a great way to add personalized color, texture and pattern to your breakfast nook. You can also choose a neutral fabric and add interest and coziness with throw pillows. Whatever type of fabric you choose, make sure it’s easy to clean since this is a dining space. Fortunately, there are plenty of durable materials out there. For example, outdoor-grade velvet gives the same rich and glam look as regular velvet while allowing for durability and easy cleanup.

5. Style your tabletop

Don’t let an added surface in your kitchen turn into a place to leave clutter. Keep your breakfast nook’s table top cleared off, and decorate it thoughtfully. A floral centerpiece is a great way to brighten up your breakfast nook with color and natural beauty. Be thoughtful in your choice of flowers and the vase they are displayed in. If you’re going for a rustic farmhouse vibe, try wildflowers in a pitcher. If your nook is colorful and modern, display bright blooms in a patterned vase. Alternatively, silk flowers are an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to fresh ones.

Other thoughtful design touches can serve a practical purpose while adding style to your nook. A few candlesticks can fill out your table top and support a cozy vibe. A bowl of fruit or a jar of sugar to sweeten your morning coffee makes your breakfast area more functional while adding a textured, lived-in feel.

6. Consider an island option

If a nook isn’t the right fit for your kitchen, either in terms of style or floor-plan, a kitchen island or cart is a great alternative. A freestanding island with comfortable seating offers a convenient place for breakfast and other casual meals, just like a breakfast nook does. This option is especially ideal in a large, open kitchen. Consider choosing chairs or stools with back support to create a cozier feel that’ll encourage lingering over coffee. Remember to leave ample room around the perimeter of your island seating so that you can still freely move around the kitchen.

7. Finish with lighting and accents

No breakfast nook is complete without an area rug to bring the look together. An area rug allows for the addition of color and texture to the space while also supporting the desired welcoming, cozy atmosphere. It’ll also define the boundaries of your breakfast nook, which can help create visual separation from the rest of the room.

Ideally, your breakfast nook will sit in front of windows that let in plenty of natural light to help you and your family to fully wake up. If you live in a cloudy climate or only have west-facing windows, natural sunshine might be limited, so you’ll want to add your own bright lighting fixtures. A breakfast nook is a great place to add statement lighting, such as a stylish pendant lamp.

Button-up the look of your nook with complimenting artwork. Of course your choice of art should be based on your own personal style, but remember to consider the style of existing decor. In a rustic space, go with artwork featuring natural scenery to add tranquility to your nook. In a modern or mid-century breakfast nook, try opting for bright, abstract artwork with an uplifting feel.

Design a Homey Breakfast Nook at Star Furniture

Your style options for your cozy breakfast nook are virtually endless, so it can help to start by looking at photos of nooks to see what you like. Throughout the process of designing your nook, always remember the purpose of the space: to go from weary to wakeful! If you’re looking for breakfast nook inspiration, visit Star Furniture to talk to our design experts and browse endless casual dining options. 

If you enjoyed this blog, check out this one about how to create a drop zone in your home.