Although we're not prone to playing favorites, there's one particular type of kitchen that stops us in our tracks every time: an eat-in kitchen. While markedly more casual than a designated dining room, what an eat-in kitchen lacks in formality it more than makes up for in facilitating moments around the table with friends and family, which might help explain why the timeless kitchen layout is currently having a moment.
"I think eat-in kitchens are so important for the way we live today, a.k.a. always on the go," LeeAnn Baker of LeeAnn Baker Interiors LTD tells MyDomaine. "They provide a place for families to spend precious moments together while preparing meals and doing homework and they encourage us to sit for a moment to eat rather than just grabbing-and-going," the interior designer explains. "They also offer a space for guests to gather when we are entertaining since everyone inevitably ends up in the kitchen."
Seeing as the ever-popular kitchen layout isn't going anywhere anytime soon, we've compiled a few of our favorite eat-in kitchen ideas, courtesy of some of our favorite interior designers. Scroll on for 14 inspired dining room alternatives.
The Eat-In Kitchen With Wrap-Around Banquette Seating
In this small, galley-style kitchen, interior designer Naomi Stein of Design Manifest installed custom banquette seating to make the most of every square inch. Situated in the corner, the sleek built-in bench allows for plenty of space for a generously proportioned dining table.
The Eat-In Kitchen With Custom, Built-In Bench Seating
This eat-in kitchen designed by Heidi Caillier of Heidi Caillier Design makes another compelling case for investing in a custom seating solution. Here, a bench with built-in drawers offers up plenty of storage for kitchen items that aren't used daily like specialty baking pans.
The Eat-In Kitchen With a Statement Pendant Light Fixture
Allow Leanne Ford to demonstrate how the right light fixture can enhance a kitchen's design. Here, an oversized paper lantern pendant draws the eye to the dining table while a rug grounds the design and helps visually separate the dining space from the rest of the kitchen.
The Eat-In Kitchen That Swaps an Island for a Dining Table
In this eat-in kitchen, Leanne Ford swapped a traditional kitchen island for a dining table. For a cohesive look, follow the designer’s lead and opt for a table in a finish that matches your kitchen's cabinetry. Here, statement pendant lights make the table the focal point of the space.
The Eat-In Kitchen With a Farmhouse-Style Dining Table
Again, Leanne Ford swapped a traditional kitchen island for a dining table—but with a different aesthetic in mind. Here, the interior designer leaned into the space's farmhouse-inspired design, placing a solid wood table at the center and completing the look with rustic seating.
The Small-Space Eat-In Kitchen With an Open Layout
Interior designer Jessica Helgerson of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design also chose to forgo a kitchen island in favor of a long, rectangular dining table in this small, open-layout kitchen. Here, a rustic dining hutch provides additional storage that an island would otherwise offer.
The Modern Eat-In Kitchen Complete With an Abstract Art Installation
In this kitchen, also designed by Jessica Helgerson of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, a statement art piece steals the spotlight. Hanging above the dining table, the abstract work sets the table apart from the rest of the kitchen, giving the space some much-needed dimension.
The Small Eat-In Kitchen Complete With a Tiny Kitchen Island
This small-space kitchen designed by Aniko Levai of Place of My Taste proves that you don't have to give up your kitchen island to have an eat-in kitchen. Here, a tiny island sits in the kitchen proper while a round dining table is situated just off to the side atop a round jute rug.
The Bistro-Inspired Eat-In Kitchen With Banquette Seating
Here, Leanne Ford transformed a small nook into a French bistro-inspired dining space. Complete with a black-and-white color palette, built-in banquette seating, French bistro-style chairs, and an ornate, gilded statement mirror the small space is très chic indeed.
The Eat-In Kitchen That's With Separate Dining Room Vibes
Interior stylist Lea Johnson of Creekwood Hill's eat-in kitchen has serious dining room vibes. With all the hallmarks of a traditional dining space (namely, a vintage-inspired area rug, a statement chandelier, and a display cabinet), it's easy to overlook the open layout that leads to the kitchen.
The Eat-In Kitchen That Makes the Most of Bay Windows
In Bri Emery of Design Love Fest's small kitchen, designer Sarah Sherman Samuel opted for a round dining table to take advantage of the space's charming bay windows. A pendant light fixture hangs above the table, making the dining area look and feel like a unique space.
The Small Eat-In Kitchen That Makes the Most of a Narrow Layout
French architect Joseph Dirand's kitchen is proof that no space is too small to accommodate a designated dining space. Here, a round table takes up space at the end of the kitchen, creating a designated formal dining area complete with a built-in bench and statement light fixture.
The Charming Eat-In Kitchen With a Designated Dining Nook
Allow Emily Henderson to illustrate how to transform an awkward nook into a designated dining area. Complete with a built-in bench, a painted statement wall, and a gallery wall, this set up almost looks like a room within a room. A pair of sconces complete the look.
The Eat-In Kitchen With an Island Boasting Built-In Seating
Leave it to the designers at Studio Life.Style to design the eat-in kitchen of our dreams. In this space, a kitchen island not only boasts bar stools but also a built-in bench, making it the ideal space for both casual and formal dining. A statement pendant light fixture visually separates the two dining spaces, making the more formal dining area feel like it's own unique space.