Eating Area Options

Design the perfect eating area, whether it's a formal dining room or a cozy breakfast nook. These recommendations will help you arrange your eating space and make smart, comfortable choices for your home.


Eating Space Design Options

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Kitchens, family rooms, and dedicated dining rooms all offer opportunities for comfortable, attractive eating spaces. Consider these options for creating practical and pretty eating areas in your home.

Island/peninsula seating: Extend an island or peninsula countertop to create an overhang that invites a row of stools.

Table-height counter: Integrate a table on one end of an island or peninsula for casual seating at table height rather than bar level.

Eat-in kitchen: A tables and chairs arranged conveniently in an eat-in kitchen saves steps. In addition to a casual eating space, it provides a place to talk, do homework, or socialize with the cook.

Breakfast nook: Placed just off the kitchen, an eating nook is a great option for informal meals away from the messy work core.

Banquette: One of the best ways to squeeze additional seating into a tight space is to build a banquette along a wall. A banquette can be designed for the kitchen, the dining room, or an adjoining nook.

Dining area: For a more formal dining experience, opt for a dedicated dining space separate from the kitchen. A dining area might also be part of a family room, giving the eating area the potential to act as either a formal or casual dining setting -- and giving it multiuse possibilities.

Eating Space Arrangements

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Match an eating area's furniture arrangement to your style of entertaining and the size and shape of your room with these quick tips.

Plan for company. Measure the dining room and consider how many people can sit comfortably around the table that fits the space. Round tables, especially those with pedestal bases, let folks crowd around, whereas rectangular tables impose limits. Leave at least 32 inches around the table so chairs have room to pull out. If there is a walkway behind the seating area, allow 44 inches of total clearance, including the walkway, between the seating area and any wall or obstruction.

Flex your light power. Hang a chandelier so its lowest point is 30-34 inches from the tabletop. Include extra cord so the fixture can either hang straight down or swag to one side -- allowing you to move the table depending on the size of the crowd.

Maximize your assets. If you want to use a large table in a small room, consider one with a glass top to minimize visual scale. Or replace a bulky sideboard with a narrow shelf to hold dishes. For the greatest flexibility, invest in a drop-leaf table.

Get ready to move. Before buying a new table, measure to see if it will fit through doors, up any stairs, and around any tight corners. Removable legs are a plus.

Space Requirements for Seating

Use these numbers from the National Kitchen and Bath Association to determine the minimum space to incorporate for each seated diner.

Table/Counter Height: 30 inches

Width: 24 inches

Knee Space: 18 inches

Table/Counter Height: 36 inches

Width: 24 inches

Knee Space 15 inches

Table/Counter Height: 42 inches

Width: 24 inches

Knee Space: 12 inches

Comfort Recommendations

If space allows, provide a little more elbowroom with seating areas that are 28-34 inches high, 30-36 inches wide, and 19 inches deep to better accommodate people of various sizes and abilities. The recommended minimum knee space for full accessibility at a table or counter is 36 inches wide, 27 inches high, and 19 inches deep.

Dining Space Tips

  • Use a rug to define a dining area in an open floor plan. Here, an old-fashioned farmhouse-style table and distressed chairs keep the dining room's look relaxed. To squeeze in more seating, opt for armless chairs.
  • Drape your dining room in casual elegance by using slipcovers or chair pads to dress up ordinary chairs.
  • Introduce a sofa or bench to a dining table to mimic the casual ambience of banquette seating without committing to a built-in

Dining Seating Upholstery Glossary

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Indoor/outdoor fabric has evolved beyond stiff awning stripes -- even into sumptuous chenille and velvet weaves that resist stains and fading.

Cotton is comfortable, durable, cleanable, and economical -- a great choice for furniture used daily. Plus, it accepts brilliant dye and resists sun damage.

Chintz is a glossy cotton fabric, solid or patterned, that originated in India. With a sturdy resin finish, it's highly suitable for upholstery and slipcovers.

Wool is perhaps the most versatile natural fiber. Cleanable and resistant to abrasions, durable wool upholstery retains its beauty for many years.

Gingham is a cotton or cotton-blend plain-woven fabric with a checked pattern. Offering the benefits of cotton, gingham looks at home in country-style rooms.

Microsuede is a synthetic fabric formed from minuscule fibers. While it mimics supple suede, microsuede is highly colorfast and resistant to stains and odors.

More for You

Make a small eating space feel much bigger with these ideas, tips, and tricks.

Small-Space Dining Rooms

Give your dining room a boost with new colors, accessories, and decor.

Dining Room Refreshes

An in-kitchen dining area is cozy and convenient, whether it's a breakfast nook, a banquette, or simply a table. See how to transform your space into a comfortable place to gather, eat, and relax.

Eat-In Kitchen Ideas

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