Monday, June 15, 2009

Breakfast Rooms

For more inspirational finds, please visit www.quatrefoildesign.com

As much as I have blogged about formal dining rooms, I have barely mentioned a room that is used many times on a daily basis: the breakfast room (or casual dining area) that is usually found within or adjacent to the kitchen. I might have mentioned breakfast rooms in the context of an architectural feature, or maybe as a sidekick to a kitchen post, but I have never really focused much on breakfast rooms. I wonder why? Is it because the breakfast room can seem somewhat ordinary given its everyday use? Or maybe because my own breakfast room is shamefully neglected from a decor perspective. It could be that breakfast rooms are often lumped together with kitchens. Whatever the case may be, the homes that I have visited recently have given me a new appreciation for the function of the casual dining area, the different possibilities of its placement in a home, and the beauty that can be created in this area.

When I first thought of casual dining areas, I thought about the breakfast room of designer Michael Smith. The room is architecturally unique with its lovely octagonal shape and beautiful wood floors. I also love the lantern hanging above the table; casual dining areas allow for more casual lighting, which opens up a whole new realm of options. It is clear to me that this is not the breakfast room of a family, though; too elegant! I like that the expanse of windows is someone broken up with the curtains; it makes the room feel less exposed, but the doors can still be opened right into the back yard.
This photo shows the breakfast room in relation to the kitchen.
micheal smith_bfastrm
The exterior of the breakfast room is just as charming as the interior. Images via House Beautiful, photography: Grey Crawford.
Here is another informal dining area that is quite elegant. It is featured in Willow Decor's blog - go see the rest of the house in her post - it is magnificent. I love the idea of using slipcovers for the chairs in a casual dining area.
There is something I really like about this breakfast room, although the design components aren't really what I would select for myself. I think it is the architectural components that really appeal to me: the expansiveness of the space, the high ceilings, the wall of windows with a door that leads straight out onto a stone patio. I wonder what the kitchen looks like? Image by John Umberger.
A styled picture of a casual dining area from the Suzanne Kasler for Hickory Chair catalog - I love the artful arrangement of plates, mirrors, books, and bowls of fruit. And, of course, Kasler's signature Eiffel Tower - I have read that she has quite a collection of Eiffel Towers.
One of the breakfast rooms that inspired this post...it seems so logical to have the table set between the kitchen and the family room, in its own area. There are doors on either side, one of which leads to a courtyard, one of which leads to the parking court.
Another casual dining area that inspired this post, from the home of designer Lori Tippins. Lori commented that the placement of the table in between the kitchen and the family room makes it a place where her family and guests naturally gravitate.
design inc kithen 2
This farmhouse kitchen featured in Design Inc was created by Sarah Richardson. I like a kitchen and casual dining area that is completely open to the family room like this; it truly becomes the heart of the house. Even better is when the room opens up to a walk out backyard like this one does.
I love the look of a round table used in a kitchen; round tables seem to make meals a bit more intimate. This kitchen and casual dining area, designed by Phoebe and Jim Howard, were part of a showhouse last year. I believe that the table was placed in between the kitchen and family room.
I have featured this beautiful kitchen and casual dining area many times on my blog! This time, the focus is on the sophisticated casual dining area. It is right in between the kitchen and the family room; the kitchen, casual dining area, and family room are in one big room that spans the back of the house. I love the set up of this table with its wing chairs, such an unusual choice in a casual dining area. The owner used outdoor fabric so that spills clean up right away; this is important as young children live in this house!
Another breakfast room design that I see in my files is the eat-in kitchen, defined by the placement of the table in the midst of the kitchen (near the appliances). In a very small home, this is commonly where the casual dining area is placed. When homes were built much smaller in the 20s-70s, the eat-in kitchen was a very common feature; now that so many homes are larger, many of them have a separate breakfast room/casual dining area. Seeing an eat-in in new homes gives a nice vintage feel to the room. Image via Cote de Texas, interiors by Bellacasa Design.
This Atlanta house, designed by Suzanne Kasler and featured in House Beautiful, has a true eat-in kitchen. I was surprised by this given that the house is 10,000 square feet.
This kitchen, from an Atlanta home designed by Barbara Westbrook, also has an eat in kitchen. I can't remember if this home was a renovation or a newly built home, but I remember that it was designed to feel like an older home.
Another style of breakfast room that has great appeal to me is the conservatory style room. As a morning person, I imagine drinking tea and reading the paper with sunlight flooding into the room; my husband, however, thinks they feel too exposed, especially at night when the windows are dark empty spaces. Originally, 'breakfast rooms' were used primarily for breakfast, and dinner was eaten in the dining room (I guess lunch does not merit its own room). I don't know too many people who have dinner in their formal dining room every night in modern times - do you? Design by Tammy Connor.
Another conservatory style breakfast room. The French doors are stunning; I can imagine throwing them open and enjoying a meal inside but feeling as if I were outside. A chandelier would be more beautiful in this space, but a ceiling fan is probably more practical if this room is used in an indoor/outdoor way.
This kitchen has been featured on more blogs than I can count. When Cote de Texas featured it on her kitchen post, she speculated that part of the appeal was the conservatory like breakfast room that lets the light stream in from the windows on both sides. I prefer breakfast rooms with windows on two sides versus three; it makes the room feel more like a part of the kitchen. Image via Southern Accents, design by Frank Babb Randolph, photo by Tria Giovan.
To me, this style of breakfast room seems to strike a happy medium. The breakfast room is surrounded by windows (on a curved wall, which captures the light so beautifully), yet it is very much a part of the room. Although I generally prefer kitchens with a window to the outside, I love the flow of this kitchen. The kitchen faces the family room, but is in its own defined area (click here to see more of this home). The range and hood are the beautiful focal point, but it is the breakfast room that first caught me eye in this picture - what a light and bright place it must be. I am beginning to see a trend in what appeals to me; a casual eating area that has a lot of windows, but still feels like it is part of the flow of the kitchen. I also spy a back staircase! Image via Velvet & Linen, and the architecture is by Steve Giannetti.
Another kitchen where the casual dining area gets the light and windows, and the kitchen is interior. Image from an Atlanta real estate listing.
One of my favorite images, from Traditional Home. I love the idea of a cozy dining nook with a big window and a lantern. Alas, this concept would never work with my three young kids - this might be an idea to save until the family dinner is no longer such a messy production.
When I saw this photo in Traditional Home (the picture in the magazine was wider, and more of the casual dining table could be seen), I immediately thought that the design of the kitchen, family room, and casual dining area flowed beautifully together. I also love it when there is a back stairs off the kitchen.
A closer view of the casual dining area, which is light and airy because of the windows and doors, yet also feels very much a part of the room. The slipcovers are made from Sunbrella indoor/outdoor material, so they can withstand the wear and tear from two young children. Image from Traditional Home, photography by Gordon Beall, interior design by Erin Paige Pitts. This home is on Gibson Island, Maryland, not far from the home that I featured on my blog last year.
This is one of my all time favorite pictures, from Traditional Home. I must admit that I have always admired this photo in isolation; I was not even sure what the rest of the kitchen looked like until researching for this post (take a look at the rest of the beautiful home here). I still don't know what is to the right of the table, but given the focus on windows and the amount of light in this home, it must be windows or French doors. I love the lantern above the table, and especially love the connection between the indoors and the outdoors. Image via Traditional Home, design by Serena Crowley, photography by Tria Giovan.

It is interesting to see how many different variations of casual dining areas are possible, most of which are dependent on the architecture and design of the home. Although I would generally say that I prefer for the light and windows to be part of the kitchen itself, some of my favorite images in this post have casual dining areas that have the light and window focus on the casual dining area, with the kitchens on the interior. The last few pictures in this post are perhaps my favorite; the kitchen has its own light and windows, and the casual dining area is surrounded by windows, yet still part of the family room/kitchen/break set up (and, interesting to note that the Michael Smith breakfast room that began this post has these characteristics).

How is your casual dining area set up? What configuration do you prefer?

Things That Inspire Favorites: Cape Cod Metal Polishing Cloths

Things That Inspire Favorites: Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Things That Inspire Favorites: Thera Breath Oral Rinse

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here. 
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here. 
Twitter: @TTIBlog 
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ttiblog/ 
Visit my online store, Quatrefoil Designwww.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com 
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Beautiful framed intaglios, available here:

Unique architectural renderings, available here:

Original paintings, as seen in top design magazines, available here:


  1. Thank you for this wonderful comprehensive post! Since I am about to start a breakfast room project in my own house, this gives me a world of inspiration. I love the Suzanne Kasler eat in kitchen. I love how the elegant formal chairs work with the antique table and bring a sense of graciousness to the space. Great post!

  2. I LOVE this! too many to choose. I really love the one from Atlanta - you know which one! - but there's not windows by the table. I just love when there are windows around the table. it would be hard to choose a favorite, so I'm not, but I do love all the slips you've shown. Nothing is better for kitchen chairs than slips!!!! love this!

  3. Oh, I want me a breakfast room. Sigh.

  4. it is hard to say which i prefer.
    actually your examples are so fabulous that i would be happy with a breakfast area in either category.

    ... because i actually like to cook...i would prefer the table is right in the kitchen.

  5. Another great post! Having lived in so many different houses I have to say I do not like the kitchen table located between the kitchen and the family room. I prefer it set off from the main walking path. It remains a more relaxing and more intimate a space. I found the very open floor plans make you feel like your sitting in the middle of a ballroom.

    I like the first octagon room the best. I admire both the inside and the outside detail they added to the room. Wonderful post - putting it in my saved file!!!

  6. I certainly would love to have breakfast in any of these fabulous rooms!

  7. I agree that they are all so gorgeous. I keep looking at the beautiful gardens through the windows, too. I think slipcovers are great in breakfast room - mine are made with grain sacks, with velcro to allow me to pull off the seat portion and clean it.

    I am in Willow Decor's camp on not having the table right in the middle of things, either. We once had a conservatory breakfast room, but ironically, it was too darn bright in the morning to eat comfortably!! In New Jersey, no less...

  8. We have a kitchen in the middle of our house. It is open to an eating area. The sink faces the windows. I love the arrangement. The open feeling of looking out the expanse of front windows is relaxing. I always felt confined by the small kitchen window over the sink.
    You have a wonderful collection of eating areas! The comment by Willow Decor is interesting. I likely agree but had never thought about the space that way. I do like the eating area/breakfast nook to feel intimate. I do like it seperate from the kitchen and not in the middle of the room.

  9. I am really enjoying the comments on this post! It is interesting to hear what people have liked about breakfast room arrangements in their current and former homes.

    My current home is very deep, and the garage is in front as the lot is narrow. So, on the right side of the house is the garage; the garage door opens into the kitchen, which has a window over the sink as it is on the side of the house; behind the kitchen is the casual dining area, which is in the corner of the house and is open to the kitchen and to the family room (which is in the middle of the back of the house). You step down one step into the family room, and the spaces have physical separation because of pillars. It works quite well, I must admit, but it is also set up this way because of the depth of the house.

  10. A fabulous selection of images. We always eat in out kitchen in the winter and outside in the summer so I am not sure why we have a dining room at all sometimes... xv

  11. the first kitchen photo you posted is amazing - LOVE those hardwood floors. i have home envy!!

    btw, i did a bedroom makeover post on my blog today that you might enjoy...check it out at:


  12. Really nice post. I particularly like the octagonal flooring in the first pic - really unique (with a great high gloss shine). Also, the wing chairs that pop up later on - what better way to have a cozy breakfast and cup of coffee in the morning than nestled into a wing chair.

  13. I like every single one but I prefer eat-in's. I'd like a big rustic table that's not just in the kitchen but part of the kitchen; a place for small and large scale dining, food prep, buffet, a place to put the grocery bags, or just a place for granny to sit comfortably and talk while we're cooking I want flexible, adaptable spaces. (See Pattern 139, Farmhouse Kitchen.)

    I'm still pleasantly distracted by all the windows. Please keep them coming.

  14. Thanks for the inspiration! I'm trying to figure out how to design the breakfast room in my new house and can use all the virtual tear sheets I can find.

    I'm planning on having a built-in banquette made to wrap around in an L-shape. Any ideas how interesting ways to style that?

  15. Terry, there is definitely a common thread to my posts over the past month...all of the windows. In fact, I edited out some images from this post because I have posted them so much over the past month!

    When I read the farmhouse kitchen pattern last week, I thought about the Sarah Richardson kitchen/casual dining/family room. This house is literally a farmhouse in Canada that was transformed to a weekend house. It is possibly my favorite Design Inc episode ever.

  16. We have eat in space in our kitchen for casual meals. The room adjacent to our kitchen was the family room complete with fireplace. The first thing I changed was to make that room our dining room. It continues to evolve and now as empty nesters am in the process of making it more like dining room, sitting room, library. I appreciated the comment about windows sometimes making rooms too bright to be comfortable in. I'm bucking the trend here, but I don't enjoy squinting in my home and having fabrics fade and furniture damaged by not enough sunscreen. I must be a nonevolved Victorian at heart.

  17. Wow these are some swanky spaces! My favorite is that nook with the giant window seat. I would love to have breakfast there everyday. Our casual eating space is the kitchen island on stools. Not swanky at all.

  18. fabulous post. so many lovely images! esp love the last one!

  19. Fabulous post!! I'll taken any of these kitchens/dining areas! Our eating arrangements are as such: in front of the tv with the plate balancing on the side of chair. Sad, huh?! Although, we do have a breakfast area and a dining area (although not extrememly formal). When we do eat at the table, it's in the dining room.
    Oh, you had asked if I had any background info on depression glass. For some reason, your comment didn't connect to my email so I missed reading it until now. I do not have any info, I just thinks it's pretty, but now you have me curious so I am going to do some research!
    ~angela @ peonypatch

  20. You sure do know how to pick them...some of my favorites too. thanks

  21. A wonderful post! I love doing breakfast rooms. Such a happy room, I think. Your selection of examples was just perfect. I want to wake up to each one!

  22. How funny! We were on the same wave length.

    Love this post. Great job with it!It's hard to say which kitchen I like best.

    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog! Have fun at the beach!


  23. Great kitchens...I love the clean lines and colors of white cabinets and stainless...very comprehensive post...love it... Fay

  24. * WHAT'S N*O*T to LOVE/"DIE-FOR" here???? Oh, talk about "heaven on earth"!!!


    Thanks sooo much!!!

    Linda in AZ *

  25. I love all of these images but really love the ones with a more open plan and lots of windows. Great post, beautiful images.

  26. We don't actually have a casual eating area. Well, we do, but we never use it so we gave away our table and chairs. They just got in the way of the dogs coming in and out of the patio door anyway!! ;-)

    I love every eating area that you posted, but my favourites are the conservatory-style eating areas. I love being surrounded by light, and it's the perfect place to have the feeling of eating outdoors while being inside (safe from the mosquitoes!!)

    I'm always so impressed by the gorgeous rooms that you find :-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  27. Great Post! SO many lovely dinning areas and kitchens in one place. I agree with willow decor about not having the eating area between the kitchen and family room. My last house was set up that way and I didn't like it. In the last two projects I did (both small homes under 4000 square feet). We made the kitchen island the informal eating area -this allowed us to have a bigger kitchen and island because we didn't have to leave room for a separate eating space.

  28. I really don't think I can pick just one! I can find elements in each one that I like. I definitely prefer a breakfast table that is in or next to the kitchen. Our present home has a very open floor plan, so the long farmhouse table in our garden room serves as our breakfast/informal dining area. Of course, most mornings I just eat seated on one of our barstools at the kitchen island.
    I love that picture of those white wing chairs. I think you mentioned in one of your posts that they are covered in outdoor fabric. I'm actually stealing this idea for a dining room that I'm working on now.
    Thank you for another inspirational post!
    Steve was so excited to see one of his breakfast rooms with all of these other gorgeous images!


  29. Such a beautiful collection of rooms! My favourites are the ones surrounded by windows, as always thought that breakfast should be in a place where the early morning light floods in over the crepes and fresh fruit . . .

  30. Wow, every single one of those photos is so beautifully chic! I would love to have something similar to even just one of the rooms, but alas, space doesn't allow for that.

    Great pictures!

  31. Thank you for this post! I work for Tammy Connor and its so fun to see her work starting to pop up on the blogosphere!

    She also was the original designer for the house that you featured on King Road - she and the previous owner, Brad Hodges (who was also the builder) designed so many of the wonderful details together - I love seeing so many of her touches still there!

  32. I like the conservatory style best, but I loooove a window bench seat. And I'm absolutely itching to get/make slipcovers for my current "casual" dining chairs. (Ha - like I'd bother w/formal in this stage of family life!)

  33. Found you through the Material Girls blog from a comment you made. Love your blog! I love the first few pictures with the breakfast rooms - especially the one that looks like an English atrium from the outside. Great examples!

  34. What a very nice and very beautiful kitchen. Thank you for sharing.

  35. each one is more beautiful than the last... what great inspiration and makes me want to have a houseful of happiness going... ;)

  36. I luv luv LUV the second conservatory style breakfast room -- French doors, white chairs with navy seat cushions. A must for my one day -- if it will even come -- house I've designed in my head now.... just forever....

  37. Gorgeous rooms, thanks so much for sharing. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I really love the one of the white kitchen with the very light blue walls.

  38. All of our kids have left home and gave away the breakfast table because we stopped using it as a place to eat. When we had the table it would be used as a place where the kids would sit and watch me cook or my husband would use it to put his laptop. I was wanting to turn it into a place where people could relax and visit and we could still read the paper and computer. We have a bar that is 6' long that separates the kitchen from the breakfast area. I have large windows on two sides of the breakfast area with a door to outside. The other side faces the family room. The entire space is around 12'from window to family room and window to bar is 9'. I loved your pictures and felt that maybe you could help me with some ideas since I have absolutely no design qualities.


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails