The Kitchen Nook

To nook or not to nook, that is the question—when you are defining a space in terms of cooking and dining.

Photo by Lindsey Drewes.

“With the smaller footprint that we were working in with this space, having a full-size table with chairs would not have given enough room for the clients to fit around it,” says designer Jamie Nusser. “A nook with fixed benches solved the problem, providing ample seating without the need for space to pull chairs in and out. Additionally, the fixed nook grounds the eating area in the larger room, giving it a strong presence.”

Need to Know

An eat-in kitchen can take a number of forms: a traditional table and chairs, a breakfast bar, or a nook. “A nook is a great way of both using space efficiently and creating a statement,” says Jamie Nusser of J Designs, who created this homey and stylish nook. “If you have a room that needs to be more flexible and accommodate different functions, then a nook may not be for you. However, if you have the perfect spot to utilize as your go-to, everyday space for eating and hanging out, a nook can be the perfect way of giving the room an established look and adding layers to the experience of the space.”

Nusser says that nooks can work equally well in all styles of kitchen. “When designing for a modern space, such as the one in this project,” she says, “I would recommend using thinner materials and, if possible, making the benches float to keep the design light and streamlined. With a more traditional kitchen, you may want to use a fuller base and bring in some interesting trim details to give the feel of craftsmanship and make it feel like it has been there forever.”

Important finishing touches include additional seating and good (and good-looking) lighting. “For seating at a builtin nook, I like to use chairs that bring a different vibe to the overall setup,” Nusser says. “In this design, we used rattan chairs to add some texture to the otherwise sleek wood and steel materials. Choosing the nook lighting is really about playing off of the shape of the seating area and the type of use the nook is going to serve. We incorporated a simple but unique linear light fixture with globes to add some curves to offset the table and bench and create a visually interesting element. In some cases, a more intimate nook is desired, and usually we approach these with curving designs and a single pendant that keeps the light centered down on the table, providing a warmer, welcoming feel.”

Photo courtesy of Ultra Design Center.

Lighting is a way to add dimension and shape as well as to control the mood of a nook. Just as the J Designs team used a modern chandelier with globular elements, the Tacoma line from Kalco features frosted glass spheres with a touch of industrial detailing in the metal belting, and it comes in a linear fixture or as a three-light pendant chandelier. Pricing varies, through Ultra Design Center.

Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn and CB2.

Rattan Chairs add texture and organic elements to a modern space in the room from J Designs. However, rattan is simply a material, and it can be used in a variety of furniture styles. For example, Pottery Barn’s Parisian woven dining chair (left) incorporates rattan and bamboo for an old-world bistro feel with a touch of midcentury bentwood detailing. The Salinas chair from CB2 (above) has a tight weave and club shaping to contrast straight edges or balance curves. In addition, with rattan, its neutral shade complements every design palette. Parisian woven dining chair, $249, at Pottery Barn; Salinas rattan dining chair, $249, at CB2.