Sara Ray Interior Design

Eat-In Kitchens

As open concept floor plans continue to be popular, designated formal dining rooms are becoming less common and, in some cases, unnecessary. While it seems dining rooms have become reserved for those few special holiday meals or even re-purposed altogether into home offices, kitchens have become the main, everyday place to sit down for a meal. Here are several ways to make the most of the kitchen eating space.

Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck


Kitchen islands offer a one-stop destination, departing from the formal dining room with numerous uses. Islands can provide more food prep space, better functionality of the kitchen triangle through stove and sink placement, a quick touch down seat for morning coffee, ample counter space for serving food, and can be the social hub in the heart of the home while entertaining.

An island at the same height as the perimeter countertops creates an uninterrupted, seamless visual throughout the space, connecting the cook with guests or family without any barriers. Counter stools, like these wishbone style stools with a back, allow for sitting comfortably for longer periods of time. Check out our Morgan Farms project to see the rest of this home’s dining options.


Photo by Andrea Behrends

Backless stools are typically smaller, are able to be tucked away under the counter when not in use, and are best suited for smaller sized kitchens and areas that experience a higher traffic flow. Modest wood counter stools and an intricate neutral accent mosaic tile pair harmoniously in this otherwise all white kitchen.


Photo by Gieves Anderson

Black and white cabinets from our Oak Hill Cottage project create a clean canvas for these eye-catching soft rose metal stools to shine. The neutral backdrop enables switching out the stools later, for an inexpensive refresh to the latest design trends. Experienced interior designers can assess the space to determine the very best kitchen layout, finish and fixture specifications, and lighting and furniture selections for optimum functionality and individualized aesthetic for every client.



Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck

Small round tables are great for smaller kitchens common in apartments and older homes. Ideal for households for singles, people with a roommate or two, and small families, round tables with a pedestal base like this one in our Forest Hills Ranch project offer seating capacity for two to four people.


Photo by Andrea Behrends

Larger tables work in lieu of a formal dining area, as seen here. With seating for six to eight people, larger breakfast tables often become the main dining space in many open floor plans. These open dining spaces also create a natural flow between the kitchen space and living spaces. They allow for socializing between the cook and guests while entertaining, with close proximity to the kitchen.


Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck

Built-in banquette seating creates a designated dining space without being enclosed by walls like a formal dining room. Add comfort and softness to balance the nearby kitchen’s hard stone, tile, and wood finishes with upholstered chairs, plush seat cushions, and plenty of throw pillows. Layering texture and pattern creates a cozy and inviting nook. Selecting durable, easy-to-clean fabrics is a must in an area with inevitable food and drink spills! Working with a knowledgeable interior designer ensures that the beauty of a design lasts throughout the demands of everyday life. See how we were able to accomplish thoughtful designer in the rest of the Morgan Farms project.

Many banquettes can be designed with drawer storage or have a hinged door that opens from the top. Opportunities to store away extra table linens, party supplies, seasonal kitchen decor, and board games make banquette seating an ideal solution for a smaller niche or corner.

Banquette nooks make a great place to gather around for family game nights! Bench seating allows for more people to sit comfortably together around a single table than chairs alone. This element can be added to existing dining and breakfast table seating arrangements without committing to a permanent built-in bench. Check out some of our favorite freestanding banquette seating options below.


Armless velvet upholstered banquette bench – available through Sara Ray Interior Design.


Customizable mid-century banquette sectional – available through West Elm.



Custom upholstered corner banquette with arms – available through Sara Ray Interior Design.



Photo by Andrea Behrends

While there are several different options for a home’s dining experience, often the best solution is to provide multiple options for mealtime seating. With the enduring popularity of open concept floor plans, the most common setup is the island and breakfast table/banquette combo. Based on the square footage of the home and the needs of the client, this design can be successful with or without a formal dining room space. Working with an interior designer helps to create an overall functional and beautiful home. See what else Sara Ray Interior Design can offer and reach out to get started with us on your next interior design project!

-Bethany King, Interior Designer

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