Bright breakfast nooks expand eating pleasure

August 06, 2005|By CHRISTINE BRUN

The word "nook" conjures up a small, cozy place. "Cranny" appears to come from a 15th century French word meaning notch, crevice or slit. Both of these terms bring to mind images of a pleasant little area tucked away from the rest of the house.

A classic breakfast nook is the antithesis of a formal dining room. The notion of a small eating area that is warm and casual originally developed when kitchens incorporated "eat-in" areas where members of the immediate household could gather for a quick breakfast or a casual meal. Before the concept of a modern kitchen appeared on the scene, families always ate in the formal dining room.

If you're lucky enough to have such a spot in your home - or can carve one out in the corner of a larger kitchen - there are several ways to make it a warm, inviting spot where everyone will want to gather.


Start by deciding on a color scheme. The designers at Maine Cottage offer this advice: "Try to define color. Not with words like 'pigment' and 'palette' and 'spectrum,' but with words that matter. Like how yellow makes you smile. How slate blue calms your nerves. No one else sees a yellow, blue or green quite the way you do." What's the color you'd most like to greet you at the beginning of the day?

The appropriateness of the size and scale of the furniture you choose for this area is also key to your enjoyment. As the nook is proportionally smaller than the rest of your house, so do the furnishings need to snuggle in comfortably.

As in the rest of your home, the style you select needs to sing to you. The Daisy Dining Table and Chairs shown here (by Maine Cottage) are traditional and nostalgic. The inviting informality is accomplished through the use of wicker and - again - the artful addition of color.

If traditional isn't your style, consider a clean stainless-steel table that coordinates with your appliances. If space allows, try to locate a small-scale chair that invites the user to curl up with a book. Look for interesting finishes on furniture and any surrounding cabinetry. Take your time to find just the right pieces, always keeping in mind what you want to accomplish in creating this space.

Breakfast nooks ideally contain windows that seem to expand the space right outdoors, so while what is outside isn't officially a part of your interior decor, it's worth making more attractive. A slice of yard or balcony outside a window can accommodate the secret ingredient to your pleasure in this room. Some possibilities include potted geraniums on the balcony or patio, attractive porch furniture or a patch of colorful flowers planted to bloom where you can see them.

If the view outside is impossible, adorn the windows in such a way that you block it out while you add personality and charm. Try filmy, lightweight curtains or opaque shades, perhaps a pull-down screen made of toile that creates a scene of its own.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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