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. 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 40 inspired dining room alternatives.
Bring in 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.
Think 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.
Be Totally Modern
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.
Choose Functional Furniture
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.
Separate Your Space
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.
Add Seating to Your Island
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 its own unique space.
Get More Out of Your Kitchen Island
While it can sometimes feel like you must choose between a kitchen island or a dining table, this space from Casa Watkins Living proves that doesn't have to be the case. The structure in the center of the room uses half to house cabinets and additional storage, while the other half is built to function as a table. The result? The best of both worlds combined.
Take Center Stage
While there are plenty of arrangements you can choose to create an eat-in-style kitchen, most layouts involve keeping the table out of the way. However, this kitchen from Burchard Design Co. shows that sometimes allowing the dining spot to take center stage can be well worth it. The all-white table and chairs match the walls and cabinets, yet their placement contrasts nicely with the deep blue lower cabinets. The room feels spacious and oh so inviting.
Mix Textures and Styles
This gray marble space from Brophy Interiors already has us swooning. The moody charcoal palette is already an attention grabber, yet the kitchen includes a dining space that pairs a gray marble table with wicker chairs. The pairing of different textures absolutely works here.
Keep Things Small and Simple
Working with a smaller kitchen doesn't mean you have to opt out of an eat-in kitchen. Arbor & Co.. gives us a perfect example here—the open space in the kitchen showcases a small table and four chairs. The size of the set is in perfect scale to the rest of the room, so it doesn't feel cluttered or overbearing.
Don't Be Afraid to Go Colorful
While kitchens are often home to neutral color schemes, that doesn't mean you can't step outside of the norm. This eat-in kitchen space from Alvin Wayne is one we are obsessed with: the colorful nature wallpaper, plush velvet bench seating, and the eclectic plate gallery wall all come together to create a space that's fresh and bold. We would love to eat here every morning.
Keep Things Open
Allowing your dining and kitchen experience to exist together in one room allows for an effortless flow from one space to the next. Your dining doesn't have to be separated in a corner where no one can see it well. Erin Williamson Design proves our point here—the extended bench seating and table exist at the very end of the room but are still facing the kitchen without any obstructed views.
Try Parallel Furniture
Keeping your dining table parallel to your kitchen island can help create cohesiveness in your space that can be much needed when working with multiple pieces of furniture. This kitchen from House 9 Interiors achieves this well—despite the dining table being separate to make room for the rest of the kitchen, there is still a sense of connectedness.
Incorporate a Neutral Theme
We love a sleek, neutral-style space–and the kitchen is no exception. This gray and white color palette sweeps across the entire kitchen designed by House 9 Interiors. While the kitchen island is the focal point of the room, the countertop has a bit of an overhang that is perfect to serve as a makeshift table.
Let the Light In
If you have the option, try to position your dining area in a place with plenty of natural light. Jessica Nelson Design did so perfectly here—the cozy corner is bathed in lovely light that floods through the windows.
Try a Uniquely Shaped Table
Creating an eat-in kitchen can have its challenges. Especially if you're working with a smaller space, it can feel difficult to fit in a dining option that won't overpower the entire room. Rather than choosing a bulky table, try finding one uniquely shaped to suit your needs—like this long oval version in this kitchen from Jessica Nelson Design. The table still provides plenty of room to dine, yet its sleek shape allows it to comfortably fit into the designated space with no trouble.
Work With Unique Placement
Your dining area doesn't necessarily have to be in the center in order to capture attention. The kitchen shown here by Katie Hackworth has distinct placement visibly seen from the sink, island, and stove without obstructing any areas. We also love the chandelier light fixture hanging above—an elegant touch.
Create a Multi-Purpose Kitchen
Kitchens aren't solely a place for dining—they can be used for a variety of purposes. This kitchen from Katie Hackworth shows a combination kitchen and workspace in a modern, open setting. The table shown here functions as a place to eat or a place to get some work done.
Add Decorative Throw Pillows
Add some extra comfort to your bench by including a few throw pillows. This nook from Katie Hodges Design has plenty of seating, gorgeous hexagon floor tiles, and an assortment of art hanging above the space. The added pillows add some additional coziness for any extra guests that may come over—or just for yourself.
Make the most of your nook space by adding some shelving. We love this dining area from Katie Hodges Design and how the corner floating shelves hold the perfect amount of dećor to spruce things up. Add a few pillows and a couple of chairs to round things out—who wouldn't want to eat here?
Have Matching Dining Set and Island
Feel like you're seeing double? This kitchen from Kate Marker Interiors includes both a kitchen island and a dining set—the only thing distinguishing the two is the four chairs that are ready for guests. This also means that if you ever need extra island space for prep, the table can be converted into a second island.
Make It Monochrome
This island dining area from Kate Marker Interiors already matches the entire kitchen's white and warm wood color scheme. Take a closer look, though—the island and the dining chairs are a perfect match! Proof that this dining area was meant to be rather than thrown together.
Bring the Bench Seating to the Center
If you opt for bench seating, you don't have to reserve it solely against a wall or a corner. This kitchen by Kate Marker Interiors brings the bench seating center stage, with a crisp white color surrounded by a wooden table and four matching chairs. With plenty of space to walk around, it looks like a natural extension rather than a random placement.
Don't Sleep on the Statement Lighting
While the table and chairs are an essential part of the dining area, the dećor surrounding it also creates an impact. This eat-in kitchen area by Kate Marker Interiors has gorgeous pillows adorning the bench seating. Yet the eye-catcher is the geometric statement lighting hanging above the table. The dećor truly helps tie the whole space together.
Line Up Bench Seating With Your Island
If you want to keep things close, try pressing your bench flush against your kitchen island. This setup from Kate Marker Interiors showcases the idea here. The result is a dining area that doesn't take up unnecessary space without losing the function of either the island or the dining space.
Create Space Between Built-Ins
An eat-in kitchen isn't impossible to create—especially once you take a look around your space. Kate Marker Interiors proves this here, by creating nook seating between two built-ins that store plenty of kitchen items. Placing a table and a couple of chairs around it creates ideal seating for any meal of the day.
Allow It to Unite More Than One Room
An open concept layout gives you the ability to work with different arrangements. This kitchen from Kate Marker Interiors contains a nook space that also blends into the living room. The flow from one room to the next allows for an open, airy atmosphere.
Play Up Architectural Features
As important as the size and shape of a dining set can be, its placement can be just as important. Kate Marker Interiors plays with this idea by ensuring the table and chairs can be viewed through the arched doorway.
Try a Darker Color Scheme
Eat-in kitchens don't have to stick to lighter tones. This moody kitchen from Liljencrantz Design is a stunning example—the dark wood and black accents pair perfectly here. Along with the light fixture and gray island, the space feels extremely modern.
Having an eat-in kitchen, especially in the center of the room, doesn't mean you have to keep things small. The kitchen shown here by Lindsey Brooke Design has a full-size table and chairs, yet still maintains a spot in the middle of the room.
Make Use of Counter Space
Don't have the space for a dining room table or an island? Don't fret—just make use of your counter space instead! This setup from Lindsey Brooke Design uses a countertop to serve as a table while leaving a small open space underneath to store a few stools. Bonus points if you are able to look out at a stunning view like this one!
Try a Translucent Set
We adore this translucent dining set featured in this kitchen by Mary Patton Design. The gorgeous powder blue cabinets painted with white accents already feel like a dream. Adding a set like this one gives the appearance of a larger space without sacrificing a dining area.
Go Large With the Kitchen Island
If you have the space, try upgrading your kitchen island from the usual size to something on a grander scale. This island in a kitchen by Pure Salt Interiors certainly captures your attention—and leaves plenty of room for a large group to dine together without any issue!
Use a Sofa For Bench Seating
While built-in bench seating is an incredible option, there are others you can take. Look at this kitchen from Mindy Gayer, and you'll notice bench seating, a wooden table, and a few white chairs. Look closer, though—the bench is actually a sofa! This option can be great to move the dining set somewhere else, yet still hold onto that coveted bench seating.
Go Cozy With The Bench Seating
Rather than choosing a longer option, try getting cozy with your bench seat by scaling it down a bit. This gorgeous kitchen from Pure Salt Interiors creates a designated dining corner within the kitchen by using the small white bench against the wall. The seating feels intimate and refreshing.