How to Add a Cozy Breakfast Nook to Your Kitchen Without Renovating It

Transforming an unused kitchen corner is easy with the right table and chairs—plus a few extras, like considered lighting and colorful pillows.

modern breakfast nook in kitchen

Jennifer Hughes

There's something timeless and classic about a breakfast nook. It invites your family to casually gather together in their pajamas and robes as you nibble on pancakes and sip on coffee to start the day. For busy, active groups, a breakfast nook also doubles as a homework station or a place to enjoy an afternoon snack. If you've often double-tapped photos of breakfast nooks on Instagram, but felt like you couldn't make it happen in your home without a pricey renovation, think again. You can create this cozy spot in your house with a few low-budget purchases and careful styling choices. 

Here, we spoke to interior designers on how to make your DIY breakfast nook vision come to life—no expensive renovation required.

Choose the Right Corner

Though the placement of your breakfast nook should be straightforward (inside or near the kitchen!), home layouts vary and it can be tricky to figure out the best spot. Whenever possible, choose a corner with at least one window—but two is better, says Mindy O'Connor, a principal interior designer at Melinda Kelson O'Connor Architecture & Interiors. "Opting for a corner near a window can make the space feel open while using the overall kitchen space efficiently," she says. "Views and natural light are always welcome for starting a busy day."

If you don't have an open area near a window? No worries. Instead, take advantage of the walls and opt for extra-tall, comfortable bench backs. "You can also use the walls above the seating as an opportunity to create a design moment in the room with decorative elements like artwork or wallpaper," O'Connor says.

Be Picky About the Table

Or consider adding more than one. Though many homeowners choose a longer banquette table for their dining room, when creating a breakfast nook, it's better to use two or even three tables, says principal designer Gillian Gillies. "Having smaller tables allows for a gap between each, which affords the guests on the banquette side of the room easier access to leave and join," she says. "No one likes to feel trapped."

For more petite spaces, a small round or square table works well for a cozy nook, says Melody Huber, an interior designer stylist and buyer. "A rectangular table may be a better choice for a larger space," she says. Consider your kitchen's aesthetic, too: "For a rustic or farmhouse-style look, consider a wooden table with a natural finish. For a more modern look, consider a table with a glass or metal top," Huber says.

Choose Comfortable, Space-Savvy Seating

When choosing seating for your breakfast nook, first consider the size of your space and then the style of the surrounding décor. After all, a breakfast nook is a multi-purpose, practical space, so it should feel cohesive with the rest of the room.

Oversized chairs can add comfort and provide more support for your back (a must if you plan on using this space beyond your morning meal). Ultimately, your choice will come down to the space you have to spare. "Benches are a great option for a small space because they can be pushed under the table when not in use, saving valuable floor space," Huber says. "Consider a wooden bench with a cushioned seat for a more traditional look. If you prefer chairs, choose a similar style and finish to your table."

Prioritize Lighting

When you think of your breakfast nook, you likely imagine sun pouring in around it. What you don't see? Heavy fluorescent lighting that's overbearing and harsh. When you design this space, remember that lighting is a priority. "We like to mix wall sconces with pendant lights to create a comfortable and inviting space," Gillies says. "If your wall sconces are task lights, they can perform double duty if the space is also used for homework and arts and crafts."

Make It Practical

While shopping for the right table, bench, and lights, keep functionality in mind. Though you might love that minimalist chair, if no one wants to sit in it, you won't truly have created a breakfast nook—you'll just have set up a vignette with furniture.


Also, think about what your mornings typically look like and make decisions that make your life easier. That's why Huber says to consider adding storage underneath the nook's bench or table. "Drawers or baskets can be used to store placemats, napkins, and other breakfast essentials," she says. "You can also hang wall shelves to store dishes, glasses, and other kitchen items."


Another important element? Ease of getting in and out, so your kids can catch the bus. O'Connor recommends looking for a table that is easy to slide around. "While your table is not required to have rounded edges or be oval or circular, it should not have sharp corners," she says. "Tactile surfaces like smooth wood or stone work nicely here."

Choose Complementary Accents

Since your breakfast nook is near your kitchen, Huber recommends incorporating its colors, patterns, and textures so the space complements the heart of your home. "If your kitchen has blue cabinets, consider incorporating blue accents into your breakfast nook," she says. "If your space has neutral colors, consider adding pops of color with throw pillows or a rug." You can make your nook feel even cozier by choosing soft fabric drapes or curtains that speak to these surrounding shades. 

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