I’ve been noticing a trend in kitchen design lately. For years now we’ve all seen the large, open plan kitchens with the big kitchen island and stools lined up at it. Usually there is an additional eating area near by, much like the image below (and then there’s usually also a formal dining room that, let’s face it, gets used like 3x a year). I will admit, I really like this layout – partly because I had it in my last house in NC and miss having an island terribly and partly because I think at this point it’s just familiar.
This kitchen by Tilton Fenwich featured in a recent issue of Southern Living has really got me thinking about what’s next in kitchen design though. Instead of the traditional counter stools at the island, they did a built-in banquette on the back of the island. It’s like the best of both worlds right? You get the prep space of the island with the convivial, casual eating aspect.
I started looking for other kitchens that made use of this idea and was surprised to find that it works in many different styles and layouts, some with L shaped counters and some making use of stools and tables/chairs. Let’s look at a few.
These are some interesting examples of layouts that incorporate both stools and built-ins.
And some perpendicular example which is great if you have the length but not the width in the room.
And then of course there’s this which looks more like it belongs in a restaurant event space than a private home!
What do you think of this new take on the eat-in kitchen? If you could only have 1 – and island with stools or the built-in table – which would you choose? I can’t get Mr. H+F on board with the idea and I will admit I too would miss being able to face the cook but is that just because I’m not used to seeing this in a kitchen?
On a personal note, I’ve been very interested in these alternative layouts because our current architectural plans for our home renovation and addition do not leave room for an eat in table in the kitchen. We’ve gone through a few revisions (yes, we are still at it) and in order to get a good sized family room with a workable layout, I’ve had to give up space in the kitchen. There is still a great 9′ island where I can fit 4 stools but no other eat-in area. I am STRUGGLING with this. Like…losing sleep over it kind of struggling. Our kitchen now, while not ideal in a so many ways does have a small 42″ round and 4 chairs and we do everything at that table. It’s the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, the craft table, the office, the baking table, etc, etc, etc. I realize a 9′ island will take the place of many of those activities and we will still have our dining room but it feels very wrong to me to not also have a casual spot where we can sit, not shoulder to shoulder all in a line but actually facing and talking to each other. The easy compromise would be to do seating on the ends of the island like this but I don’t really have room to do that without either making the island deeper (not an option) or losing some of the cabinetry (not sure I can sacrifice that storage).
In reality, I think all this internal conflict is useless because unless we change the plans again (and compromise on something else), I don’t have the room to do a built-in banquette on the end of the island at all.
Our existing dining room is on the other side of the new kitchen range wall. *sigh* I think this is all part of the process of accepting that you can’t have it all in these renovations, especially when you’re working with a limited lot size. It’s just hard to know what’s ok to let go of and what’s something I’m really going to regret after we move in.
Sorry that started out as a “new thing I’m seeing” post and quickly turned into a therapy session!