6 Tips for Creating a Cozy Breakfast Nook

Breaking down the new "hub" of the home.
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Where do you spend the majority of your time at home? Chances are that it’s in the heart of your house… the kitchen! As we find ourselves juggling more than ever before, there’s a strong pull towards a casual, unfussy lifestyle that focuses on convenience rather than formalities (goodbye, formal dining area).

I've noticed more and more that kitchens serve as the “hub” of the home, for everything from morning coffee, family meals, homework and work-work. Enter: the breakfast nook! Aside from its functional appeal, nooks add an instant charm and coziness to any kitchen. By virtue of its name, a “nook” is usually a small area in, or right off of, the kitchen and is the perfect opportunity for embracing interior design trends, without needing a lot. You can squeeze tons of function into a small space, but not without some careful planning. Here are my tips for creating a cozy nook—and stay tuned for the follow-up post tonight at midnight to see how Leslie applied the tips to her own nook:

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The first step is to determine the size of your table. Place your tape measure on the ground and mark at least 36” from each outer edge of your nook. Why 36”? This is the minimal clearance for chairs to comfortably scoot in and out. If you’re having trouble finding a table small enough for your space, look for tall side/entry tables that measure 29-30” high. (P.S., If you’re able to build a bench, make sure to allocate at least 20” depth. 22” - 26” is ideal, especially if you want to layer in lots of back pillows.)

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Dining chairs are at the forefront of the nook, so I suggest selecting chairs with a little more visual interest. Opt for chairs with a sculptural element, or an interesting texture like Danish cord. Or, play around with mis-matched chairs for a casual look that feels thrown together (even if it took hours to find the right combo!.) Flea markets are a great source for interesting chairs for a decent price.

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You have two decisions to make here:

1. Do I want a more vibrant and colorful vibe? If the answer is “yes,” I suggest sticking to 3 to 4 main colors and then varying the shades within the color palette. For example, in the “Bold Nook” look, the primary colors are green, blue, and white. 

OR

2. Does color give you anxiety? If so, a subdued, muted and tonal pillow mix is probably more your jam. This usually consists of a variation of the 2 to 3 muted, non-contrasting colors and using varying tones within the same color palette.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but whatever you decide, stick with it and use it as your guide in the next layers.

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In my design work, I love using vintage textiles to add texture and pattern. Vintage or not, a pillow can singlehandedly bring together a design scheme. Depending on the size of your nook, mix at least 4 to 5 pillows to create the desired effect. To nail the right mix, vary the scale of the patterns so that the pillows are complimentary to one another and not clashing. When it feels like “too much," throw in a stripe to act as a neutral and break up busier patterns.

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Selecting a ceiling light fixture can often be a bit tricky. There’s so much out there… how do you know which light is “the one?” For starters, ask yourself the following questions: 

1. Do I want the light to have visual weight (i.e. be non see-through)? These types of lights are awesome to use if you would like to break up whatever is in the background. For example, the painting in the “bold nook” felt a little over-powering, so I went with a lantern to tone it down.

OR

2. Would a lighter and more sculptural light be the best fit? Contrary to the above, if you want to highlight the items behind the chandelier, go for a fixture that facilitates this synergy. Be aware of shape and color and keep in mind that contrast creates the biggest effect.

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One of my favorite and most-employed design elements is the use of organic, natural textures. Baskets, woven window shades, and cowhides are go-to’s that instantly add warmth and a casual accessibility. Dining chairs with a woven cord seat are also a great way to add texture.

P.S., Stay tuned to see how Leslie applied Katie's tips to create her own breakfast nook, live tonight at midnight!

Thank you, Katie! You can follow her at @katiehodgesdesign, or see more of her designs here.