How to Make a Breakfast Nook Comfortable


When our house was built in 1920, breakfast nooks were somewhat of a builder’s gimmick, cute, but not that comfortable. Take a look at the ad above. Do those benches look like a place you’d like to hang out in? How about the bench to table distance? Do you see yourself leaning far over your bowl of cereal? If you’re seating more that two, what about the person that has to slide into the window side of the nook?

Our breakfast nook served as fodder for some of our most fraught marital squabbles. Kelly looked at the nook and saw potential for storage and work space. I held to my line of not altering the historical details of our old house. We both agreed that changes needed to be made. We had, after all, voted with our derrieres. Neither of us used the breakfast nook for anything other than as a repository for junk. Here is our nook, as it looks today, after some changes we made to make it more comfortable:

breakfast nook

Those changes were made possible thanks to handy a resource called Architectural Graphics Standards. AGS, offers a set of standard measurements for everything from table height to the length of a fencing pistes. When it comes to furniture, just a half an inch can make the difference between comfort and discomfort. The main problem with our nook was that the depth of the benches were at the very minimum recommended by the AGS. So we extended the benches by a few inches:


As you can see, the cat approves.

Another problem was the size of the table in our nook. By shortening the table, we made it a lot easier to get in and out of the nook:

tableshortening copy

Of course, you can’t serve a dinner for four in the nook with such a short table, but we see it more as a place to gather and for the two of us to have breakfast (it is a breakfast nook, after all).

Kelly did a great job with the hard work of sewing pillows and cushions and painting all the trim and walls. And, yes, that is a functioning built-in ironing board on the left in the wide shot. More on that in another post.

Leave a comment


  1. How well I remember those breakfast nooks. So uncomfortable and hard to get out of. Your new nook looks really nice! I would have just ripped it out and put a table in front of the window. I try to stay true to the style of my older homes but not at the expense of comfort. Again, VERY NICE! And those built-in ironing boards were fantastic. I want one!

  2. I love that you were able to preserve the character of the space while making it something that you’ll actually use. There’s nothing worse in a small house than a good idea that doesn’t actually work for real life!

  3. You did a great job on this. I thought the pic was from an architectural magazine until I read and discovered it was YOURS! You made it better for the two of you while preserving the fundamental design, which I think is awesome. I wish more people would remodel with such preservation goals in mind.

  4. I lived in an apartment with one of those ironing boards. I used it to place serving dishes for dinner parties.

  5. What’s “ironing”? Is it when you rub a piece of hot metal over your clothes to smooth them out? Life’s too short to do something like that when you could be drinking wine. Of course, if you are doing it to kill louse eggs, then that’s a different matter!

  6. Beautiful, beautiful job! Best of all, it’s a finished, beautiful job. (The “finished” part is sometimes our shortcoming.) And I adore the built-in ironing board; reminds me of my grandma’s house.

    Older homes so often have very, very practical features which are left out of newer homes these days: big pantries, built-in ironing boards, attics with real staircases – none of those ridiculous pull-down ladder things – big, deep kitchen sinks with drainers . . . .

  7. Pingback: 053 Breakfast Nook Theory | Root Simple

  8. Hi, I thought your little nook looked very comfortable and cozy. I could see myself enjoying an early morning snack there while gazing out the window. Great job maintaining the integrity of this area and thank you for sharing these great ideas!

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