Monday, October 24, 2011

Eat-In Kitchens: Good or Bad?

I have noticed a lot of kitchens lately without an island, and in its place a table and set of chairs that double as a workspace.  These are not quaint little eating nooks; rather, they are beautiful enough to replace the primary dining room.  
I have withheld my opinions on this until the end so you could look at the images first and form your own opinion before I insert mine!  Take a look at some examples that cover a lot of styles, and then let me know your thoughts:

Tria Giovan
Canadian House and Home 2010 Princess Margaret Show Home

Coastal Living

House of Windsor

Traditional Home

Nate Berkus Apartment, via Elle Decor

Apartment Therapy

Steven Gambrel


Michelle Nussbaumer

Annette Joseph

Traditional Home

El Mueble
segreto finishes


House and Home

I can see this being a realistic solution in a smaller space, or in a bachelor pad like Nate Berkus' place where perhaps formal dinner parties aren't the norm. And, since the party is always in the kitchen, why not have dinner there too?  

On the other hand I don't think I'd be fond of tripping over chairs as I buzzed around the kitchen cooking up Thanksgiving dinner!   I also love the idea of a formal dining room - I guess I'm old fashioned that way. 

That puts me squarely on the fence on this one!
What do you think of this idea?


Sharon Lee Johnson said...

Hi Barbara. This post really made me think. I like the idea, but I'm not sure how practical it is. Often a dining table height is a bit too low to stand and prepapre food, plus then you have to clear everything away before you can eat! Ideally I would like both an island and a table for informal meals in a kitchen as well as a seperate dining room. I know, I know, I want it all! Have a lovely week. x Sharon

The enchanted home said...

Well when you show such gorgeous examples its hard to say you dont' love it. Personally it would not work for me, I like having space when working/prepping/cooking and to have everyone right there under my feet would make me a little crazy. HOWEVER these are GORGEOUS and could almost make me a believer. Obviously if you don't have a choice,thats another story and there is no reason that it cannot be made to feel spectacular as you have shown above!!

Haus and Home said...

I personally would rather have an island which could be an area for work prep but have a seating option at the island, or at least a table to the side maybe not in the middle of the kitchen. I don't like clutter so I am afraid things would end up on the table which is in the middle of the kitchen (does that make sense?). Plus, when I grew up my mom wanted no one in the kitchen when she cooked so for people like that, people may gather in there.

Luciane at said...

Great question! For charm I'd go w/ a table, something like you've showed here, but for practicality, the island is better. I grew up having a table in the middle of the kitchen instead of an island (which is VERY common in Brazil), and it was nice. My grandma would be preparing things and we would be there, helping her, around our table. You can also prepare thing seated! :-) But you always have to clean everything before serving the meals... not that practical.

Have a Blessed Week!


Luciane at

Anonymous said...

gorgeous having a table in the kitchen, all my homes have had one plus the formal dining's so convenient to have the kids eat at the kitchen table while you work, or do their homework...
I'm not as crazy for kitchen bars that overlook the stove or's just not the same as a there's my two cents..

Tiffany @ {Living Savvy} said...

I have always loved the look of the table in the kitchen, but as a cook I think I would prefer an island. If I could pic on large enough to have 6 barstools at so it would have the same effect. Plus I like the extra storage!


Carol@TheDesignPages said...

Well there's definitely no fence sitting here. Love the look but absolutely hate the idea of having to work around the table and chairs. I can only imagine the kids not pushing the chairs back in and leaving their backpacks right in the walkway and you're completely right about the chaos at Thanksgiving dinner.

Greet Lefèvre said...

My dearest Barbara,
First of all I want to thank your for all your nice and sweet comments on my blogposts!!
I am glad I have discovered your beautiful blog which I have added to my blogroll!
I love all these examples of placing a table at the middle of a kitchen! I have done it in my own kitchen because I had no possibility to place a kitchen island and I am very happy with it! All our friends love to sit around this table to have dinner while we are preparing dinner!
Wish you a wonderful week Barbara!!

Anonymous said...

They all have their beauty and make a statement of "welcome to our kitchen, here is a knife, start chopping". However, I would miss my Island with my pot rack above, hanging drying herbs & baskets. I have the best of both worlds with a little eating nook but still have my island. My formal dining room is actually used as much as the nook in my open concept house. Like, you I would be moving all the chairs out of my way and have to stack up cutting boards to get to the right height for a work station. If small quarters, it makes sense and as shown can be fabulously beautiful.

Alison said...

I used to be on the fence about this too, until I moved into a house with this layout, and now I love it. In our former house, homework and mail kept being left on the island and getting in the way of everything I was doing. Now all of that stays confined to the table and I work on the perimeter countertops. Food doesn't get on papers, homework doesn't accidentally get wet by the sink and the best part- cookie decorating mess is contained on a dark wood table that can handle red food coloring being spilled on it. It seems like everyone is going to end up in your kitchen anyway, might as well have a spot for them.

The Vintique Object said...

It's a gorgeous look, and while i like the idea of a table in the kitchen where people can sit and face one another over a meal, I think I'd rather have it tucked out of the way in a nook and opt for an island instead. Maybe one with a furniture look -- old and made of wood, open underneath. I guess that would be my ideal.

Thoughts on Design said...

I grew up in a home with an eat in kitchen, so I'll admit, I'm biased right out of the box. I like them. When Sally and I designed the addition to our house, it was done with an eat-in kitchen.

Until recently, with clients who can afford the luxury of space, an island with an informal eating area nearby has been a given programtic requirement in the kitchens we design. As new housing starts slowly begin to come back in the US, it will be very interesting to see how the large kitchen with island responds to today's home buyer, because they have changed. My sense is that they will become smaller and multifunctional.

What I CAN'T stand are kitchen islands desparately trying to disguise themselves as a table or vice versa. The esthetic and functional mixed message creates a kitchen that visually looses it's identity.


Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

I absolutely love them. I'm crazy over every image. That being said, I'll have to be a little widow and not worried about resale before I ever get to do it. My husband would flip and resale in Little Rock would be impossible. i just hate that. A lot of my home is about resale...I'm looking forward to the day that I just don't care about that anymore.

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

Where do you find all of these luscious photos? I love eat in kitchens. I'd hate to give up my island to have one, but people would rather eat in my kitchen than in the dining room. Same thing for most people! It's all about being relaxed and near the food!

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

We have a table in our kitchen currently and I can't wait to replace it with an island when we remodel. It will be nice to have the additional counter and cabinet storage space.

Victoria said...

I love the look of an eat-in kitchen. It is so warm and welcoming, but in my kitchen, I find an island more functional because I need the storage it holds. I agree, Barbara, that all those chair legs could get in the way.

mary said...

Hi Barbara, This is a great question--for me, I love a country French farm/work table with great patina and rush chairs or benches in a kitchen. But (as much as I love Michelle Nussbaumer and her design aesthetics) white upholstered furniture in the kitchen? Crystal chandeliers in the kitchen?--remember, the purpose of a kitchen is to create meals and many meals means a lot of dirt and grime. So, for me it's a yes for a great farm table and chairs; And even more of a yes for a largish separate dining room.

Splendid Willow said...

H Barbara, you are showing so many of my favorite images here! (I have posted several of these myself - which means that we have very similar excuisite (!) taste! (:

I am personally done with kitchen island with bar stools! I would take any of these eat in kitchens in a heartbeat. I would even go so far as getting rid of my own formal dining room for a larger eat in kitchen with one long, rustic table. That is is how people have been dining for centuries. It works and I love the feeling of proper sit down dinners where informal conversations fly!

Warm hugs to you,


Meghan @ Wishful Thinking said...

Before I saw the pictures, my mind was already made up – I am not a fan of eat-in kitchens. I value both counter and floor space too much to give it up to a table and chairs. I also tend to move around the kitchen like a hurricane when I cook so having something in the middle of the room is likely to drive me nuts and very possibly cause me injury. But then I saw the beautiful pictures and now I feel torn! I am particularly in love with the Segretto Finishes and Steven Gambrel examples of using benches. Although I think when it really comes down to it, I would choose an island with stools rather than a large formal table.

Hyphen Interiors said...

How can you not like those images?! I think it just depends on if it works for you and in your kitchen. Depends on the house and your routine. It wouldn't work well in the middle of my kitchen, but off to the side a bit wouldn't be bad, or part of an island...

Tiago said...

I love these crazy artifacts that are super useful for all of the home tasks. Last year I travelled to Argentina and got an apartments in buenos aires that came will all kinds of machines and cute objects to cook. The best thing was that you could keep them and I did. Now my kitchen is full of modern cool objects! It is great!


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