How To Nail The Eat-In Kitchen Look If You Don't Have Space For An Island

Eat-in kitchens go in and out of fashion, varying according to prevailing design trends and home styles, but they're always great additions that create a cozy, laid-back space for eating and socializing. Whether it's a fashionable island with a few bar stools or a quaint breakfast nook, eat-in kitchens offer both a dining spot and a landing spot for spending more time in your kitchen than just cooking. They can also make the kitchen the heart of the house. 

While many homes have the option of islands and space for tables and other seating configurations, just as many do not, with many relying on spaces like dining rooms for seating. In apartments, tiny homes, or small houses, there is often no space at all for dining in the kitchen. There are a few great tactics, however, for creating the feel and look of an eat-in kitchen, whatever the space you have.

Small eat-in kitchen ideas

Great eat-in kitchens depend less on size and more on function. Even the tiniest area or corner can be outfitted to create a small dining space, even if it's only large enough for 1-2 people and table space for a cup of coffee. Try placing a slender shelf or breakfast counter against a wall or, even better, in front of a window. It will add always desirable additional surface and counter space for when you need it, plus a couple of comfy stools to spend time enjoying your kitchen or resting while cooking.

Inexpensive small bistro table and chair sets are smart, compact ways to add seating in a corner or along a wall. If there isn't room for both a table and chairs, use a small bench placed against the wall. Alternatively, outfit a corner with a tiny 2-person banquette nook, which will provide seating and also a spot for additional storage inside. If your kitchen will not fit a traditional table and chairs, try placing a counter-height breakfast bar or small table perpendicular to the wall with seats on either side.

Defining the space

To make your small kitchen seating area a stunner, definition and intentionality are key. No matter the size, using other elements to delineate your seating area can make the overall kitchen seem larger and less crowded. Rugs and mats are a great tactic for marking floor space. For the walls, try placing a large piece of art above your cafe table or breakfast bar, or, if you love a little bit more pattern, some peel-and-stick wallpaper to separate the space from the rest of the kitchen. A gallery wall looks stunning above a small table and will work to visually provide a focal point.

Up top, you can also distinguish a seating area by additional lighting, be it wall sconces on either side or an attractive pendant light over the center of the table or counter. You can also use other elements like larger plants or small shelves to further define the space from the rest of the kitchen. Place a floral bouquet or centerpiece in the middle of your dining surface for a pleasant final touch.