A built-in breakfast nook is a charming and convenient addition to any kitchen remodel or renovation. Nestled into an alcove or bumped out from the main kitchen space, a breakfast nook provides a cozy spot for casual dining without taking up excessive space. When designed and executed properly, built-in breakfast nooks can add character, comfort, and value to your home.
Benefits of a Built-In Breakfast Nook
There are many benefits to incorporating a built-in breakfast nook during your kitchen renovation:
- Extra seating – Nooks provide space for 2-4 people to sit and dine comfortably without cluttering up the rest of your kitchen. This keeps the main workflow areas clear.
- Space maximization – By tucking the dining area into an alcove or bump out, you avoid having a clunky table and chairs occupying precious real estate in the middle of the kitchen.
- Ambiance – Wrapping the nook in cozy finishes like beadboard or tongue-and-groove paneling lends a intimate, welcoming feel. Built-in bench seating adds comfort and warmth.
- Multi-functional – Nooks can serve not just as dining space but as a homework station, library area, coffee bar, or additional prep space when not being used for meals.
- Value – A thoughtfully designed and executed breakfast nook is an attractive feature for home buyers, adding interest and livability to your kitchen.
When planning your built-in breakfast nook, keep the following design tips in mind:
- Optimal dimensions are 6-8 feet wide and 4-5 feet deep. This allows seating for 2-4 people without feeling too cramped.
- Minimum recommended width is 5 feet if against a wall or protruding into the room.
- Ceiling height should be a minimum of 7 feet for comfort, 8 feet or higher is ideal.
- Locate nook near an exterior window if possible for light and views.
- Position it out of high traffic zones but still contiguous to kitchen work triangle.
- Allow for an entry/exit point with enough clearance – at least 32 inches wide.
- Incorporate lighting above the table or in soffit over nook. Wall sconces also work nicely.
- Use dimmers so you can adjust brightness based on activity and ambiance desired.
- Add accent lighting under benches or toe kicks for a cozy glow.
- Built-in benches with storage drawers or lift-up seats maximize usefulness.
- Open shelving in surrounding walls or niches provide display space.
- A tall pantry cabinet nearby can offer additional storage.
- Comfortable banquette seating with padded cushions is inviting.
- Warm finishes like wood paneling, coffered ceilings, or tile backsplashes make the space feel cozy.
- Durable surface materials that are easy to clean are practical with heavy use.
The structural framework required to build out a breakfast nook will depend on the location and existing architecture. Here are some typical construction methods:
Bump Out Nook
- Involves building an addition that protrudes out from the main exterior wall.
- Requires foundation work, framing, siding, roofing, and integrating with existing structure.
- Allows for generous nook size unencumbered by existing walls.
Bay Window Nook
- Existing bay window alcove is finished out with bench seating, storage, and trim accents.
- May require some reframing, insulation, drywall, trim, and window sealing.
- Quicker option that capitalizes on existing architectural element.
- Basic framing division walls off space from kitchen.
- Allows for wider openings since load bearing not a concern.
- Limitations due to contiguous walls and proximity to existing openings.
- Best for smaller nooks.
- Partition wall turns unused area of large island into a nook.
- Great way to delineate kitchen zones without major construction.
- Size and seating capacity restricted by island dimensions.
Converting Existing Space
- An unused dining room or oversized pantry can often be retrofitted into a casual dining nook.
- May require some reframing, drywall, flooring, and trim modifications.
- Makes use of available footprint without adding on.
The materials and accents you choose will largely define the style, functionality, and overall aesthetic of your breakfast nook. Consider these finishing touches:
- Flooring – Tile, hardwood, laminate, or vinyl plank floors stand up well to high traffic and are easy to clean. Add an area rug for softness.
- Cushions – Padded cushions or upholstered bench seats make built-ins more comfortable. Use stain-resistant fabrics.
- Table – Size appropriately for space. Round or square work well. Include extension leaf for flexibility.
- Window treatments – Curtain panels, valances, or blinds soften windows and filter light as needed.
- Artwork – Incorporate wall art, a focal mirror, or a bulletin board display for personalized flair.
- Greenery – Plants and flowers energize the space. Hang succulents or put herb pots in a sunny nook.
Like any home renovation project, the cost of adding a built-in breakfast nook will depend on the size, construction method, materials, labor, and any complications encountered. Some typical price ranges:
- Simple wall nook – $2,000 – $5,000
- Island or bay nook conversion – $5,000 – $8,000
- New bump out addition – $8,000 – $15,000
- Furnishings and finishes – Budget extra $2,000 – $4,000
Get quotes from several contractors early in the planning process so you can weigh costs vs. value and make informed design decisions. The investment may be worthwhile considering the added livability a breakfast nook contributes.
A thoughtfully designed and well-built breakfast nook is a smart addition when renovating your kitchen. By tucking casual dining into an alcove, you free up valuable space in the main kitchen for better flow and functionality. Breakfast nooks maximize square footage, add comfort and ambiance, and provide flexible usage for both daily dining and entertaining guests. With careful planning, they can be executed in various configurations to suit your needs, budget and style. Just be sure to get help from an experienced contractor to handle any structural work. Your beautiful new built-in nook will become a coveted spot everyone gravitates to when spending time in your remodeled kitchen.