I’m busy designing the remodel for my current modest bungalow. In order to save space, I’m thinking of a built-in eating nook. While most built-in eating nooks are kitchen nooks — secondary to the dining room — in my case the eating nook will be the sole dining area. So my question is what characteristics make a built-in work as the main dining area? Let me address this first and then we’ll look at several examples.
Cozy/Enclosed/Defined: I think for a built-in dining area to work it needs a quality of separation and protection. It can’t simply be a dining table pushed to the wall. Many of the image, below, are dining areas in actual alcoves. In the example, above, the entire room is an alcove comprised of floor to ceiling windows. I won’t be able to do that, but I will be able to use walls, full and partial, to create a sense of separation.
Views: Dining alcoves that work well need good views — preferably of both the garden and long views within the house — but at a minimum having long views within the house.
Comfortable: Especially for dining, you want to be able to eat and lounge in comfort. The seats and backs are usually cushioned. The backs need to be straight enough for dining but also slighting reclining for lounging. Each individual needs to be able to get in and out easily — without scooting many places to an inside seating position. If using a sofa it needs to be fairly shallow for a sofa and the seat needs to be high enough for eating at a table. Increasingly, you can buy upholstered banquette seating designed for dining rooms.
Materials: The materials need to be appropriate to the rest of the house. You can’t simply sit a kitchen nook and have it feel appropriate as the sole dining area. The materials and design can be traditional or modern, formal or informal — but it needs to fit in.
Here are some additional examples
The two examples above are from houzz.com. In my opinion, the 2nd dining area will really only work well for 4 diners — a 5th or 6th will have to slide too far into the booth.
The 5 examples, above, are from KitchenBathIdeas
The above 2 examples are from decorepad.com