Nooks and crannies. Of the kitchen kind.

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Let's talk kitchen nooks.  Specifically, my kitchen nook.  You've seen it before, at Christmas:

Here's my problem:  As much as I love the look of that table and chairs, it's completely impractical for my family because:
  • it doesn't get any bigger 
  • I only have those four chairs which are not very comfy or sturdy 'cause they're vintage wood folding chairs, and there are currently 6 people living here with 4 more who come for holiday/free meals
  • the sideboard is now my master bedroom dresser
  • I have to open that danged sliding door several times a day to let a certain big, black creature get his squirrel fix.

My plan is to move this set to the dining room and find a new set for in here. 

Other than that, I have no plan.  Which is pretty typical for me.

Let me show you some other incarnations of this room as I've bought and sold many tables trying to reinvent this space.

Previous owner's stuff:  Round table centered in the room.  Just a wee bit of oak.

Here we'd just moved in and I hadn't painted a thing.  I liked this table, but it wouldn't get any smaller and pretty much overwhelmed the space, even when I shoved one end against the wall.

So I sold it and the chairs and got this off craigslist, thinking perhaps a trestle might work if I turned it sideways and moved it toward the BIG EMPTY WALL.

Took about, oh I don't know, 3 days to decide it was too big, and not really my style.  Sold it and got this from a consignment shop (and painted the walls...this would be the 3rd and current color, though it will be painted again soon):

This wasn't doing it for me either.  It wasn't very sturdy, only 6 chairs, and one of them was a captains chair that wouldn't push in all the way.  Drove me batty.  Stuff like that just irritates me to no end.  Can you guess what happened next?  Here, I'll help you.  I sold that set and bought the current set at the same consignment.

 This is what the room looks like as of this morning.  Side dresser is gone, turned the table longways in the room.

I took some more shots and a video so you could see the how the room is viewed from the different angles.

 From the family room (as far as I know the pole is support and cannot be removed):

From the kitchen side:

Looking into the family room from the kitchen penninsula:

From the opposite corner at the hutch.

Honestly of all the ways I've had this room, I like it best like this....lots of room to move around the table and get to the sliding door.  But we need a bigger table for my family with more chairs.  All the big tables we've tried just overwhelm the space.  It's only a 10x12 space.  Then there's the big wall....would LOVE to cut a gigantic window out and put in a window seat, but I don't want to go to the expense unless I knew we were staying her for a very long time.  Thought about building a bench and making a banquette-type seating area, but based on the above pictures, I didn't like the room 'shifted' to one side.

Here are some inspiration pictures.  Note that I haven't started heavily into my 'decorating exercises' full force yet.
 Like this look, but would obviously need something exponentially bigger....(source ?)

Really like this, but the way my room is, I don't think it would work.  If I put a banquette against the peninsula or the back BIG wall, it would never feel airy and open like this kitchen eating area.  I do love the white with the wood look though. (BHG)

Here's what I wish I could do.  Cut a big 'ole window and seat into that wall, even bump it out like this.  It would be perfect with a dark wood table and those black chairs.  This is the 'look' I'd like. (BHG)

This is very similar to what I had previously when we moved in, but the table was too large.  If I go with something like this again, I don't know that I could fit any more furniture in there without it feeling cramped.  I love this look though.  Very farmhouse-y.

This is Jennifer's kitchen from The Old Painted Cottage....I'm actually using the same wall color (RL Canvas Natural), love the long narrow farmhouse table, and the way she did her BIG blank wall.  This prolly my favorite look, neutral but easy to add pops of color, a bit shabby, a bit cottage-y, a bit farmhouse-y.  Definitely all my loves, and would work with my layout.  Don't be surprised if my finished space looks an awful lot like this. I won't be using artichokes on my pre-set table.  They'd become baseballs for my little guys.  The chairs might be a bit too 'shabby chic' too, based on my changing tastes.

Here is Autum from Creative Little Daisy's dining room.  LOVE her vintage table and bench.  Think she'd give it to me?
This room is gorgeousness..
Perfect in form and function.  I had these same window treatments in my last house.  LOVE.

Here's Chris's Just Beachy's dining room.  Why do you thing I love this?  Wicker, ladderbacks, deep stained farm table, slipcovers.  Delicious. Prolly not practical for everyday use, but still....

So....what say you?  Should I try to make a banquette?  A pedestal round table?  A farm table?  What about that big 'ole wall?  It's 10 feet across.  A scary amount of drywall to decorate.

Here's a tour, finessed with Bogart barking at me to let him in, shots of my messy kitchen with baskets o'homeschool crap, half decorated family room, and reflections of moi in my infamous pj's.  Have mercy.


Anonymous said...

wow, what a difficult space. I would most likely go for two built in benches (L shape), a rectangular table and 3 chairs. But then you lose that lower cabinet access...

Anonymous said...

By the way I am impressed at the sheer number of tables you have gone through. Now you got me wondering if I can sell my table...LOL, nah I suppose I'll just paint it

GardenOfDaisies said...

I really love your posts, and the way you make us think about our rooms... the size, the color, the furniture and how it makes you feel, the way things fit or not... It is really helping me see things I need to change. (How I wish you could come to my house and get it all sorted out for me. )

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

I love your space and I really like the idea of turning your one long wall into a gallery of shelves to display things like Jennifer did. I have a trestle table that is quite narrow, but 6 feet long and I use to have two 6 ft. benches for each side. I found that since I had children I could put 4 people on each side and then 2 on each end and so I could acturally seat 12. It was a little cozy, but it wasn't an everyday situation, so it worked just fine. You might look for a narrower, but long table that is 6 or 7 ft. long. I think you could even have one made very inexpensively. I love the look of dark distressed wood on the top with painted legs. The table you have is lovely, too bad it doesn't work. Anyway just a thought. Hugs, Marty

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

Okay, don't shoot me, but here is what I would do.
I would tear out the "island" that you have between the kitchen and eating area. I would then put an island in the middle of your kitchen. Then you could put a longer table in the eating area parallel to the long wall. Of course, that would mess up your floor if you tore out your island, but that would be a good excuse to get new flooring? :)
You were probably looking for an easier solution, but I'm just telling ya what I would do. That's whatcha get for askin'!
p.s. My kitchen was the same design and we tore out the island too. Don't miss it a bit.
p.s.s. You can still get rid of the pole if you want to,even if it is a "load bearing" pole. You just have to get a larger header beam for the ceiling to support the weight from upstairs. Just an FYI

stefanie said...

that is hard, why dont you put two benches on each side and use two chairs on the other..or what the heck, just go shopping.

Kendall@ Finesse Your Nest said...

Well it's beautiful right now, but everything you do IS! I don't know...I can SO see a U-shaped banquette on the wall where your long plate shelf is hanging. Would wrap around underneath the bar and on the little wall to the left of the sliding glass door. Then you could do an oval table and maybe 3 chairs? It's hard to tell the scale of the room from pictures, but looks like it could work.

Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife said...

Ahh...you've got my head spinning!

I actually really like what you have now! But, I am always a sucker for farmhouse tables too!

Heidi said...

I was also thinking that a rectangle table with 2 benches on each side would be perfect for that space. And 2 "adult" chairs on ends. Ana from knockoffwood.blogspot.com has a really easy wooden bench plan that you could look at. She also has table plans that are really simple. Her plans are free, and on her blog.

Claudia said...

Well, I love the idea of putting in a window with a window seat, but that may be off in the future. I also fell in love with Jennifer's wall of built-ins. I'm sleep deprived today, but why not a table with leaves? Get a table and chairs you like, but the table should have 1 or 2 leaves that you can put in when company is visiting.

Maybe that's too obvious or not the right solution?


Carrie said...

Glad to know I am not the only one, who changes tables like I change paint colors :)????
Anyway, how about putting a rectangle table in again running parallel to the island or bar, and put benches on either side. You can then adjust the number of people and add chairs at either end when you have company. They could be benches that you could add a cushion or skirted cushion when you wanted to foof it up, but they could also be painted. Might be fun.

Karen Valentine said...

Hi Cindy! I just found your blog from Shellagh @ Ticking and Toile. I'm so glad I did! I'm always looking for new blogs with a great cottage style. I'm thinking I'm going to have to add you to my blog roll!!!! I had fun looking around and look forward to getting to know you better.

My Desert Cottage

Diane @ InMyOwnStyle said...

GO for the banquette. I did this and am so glad I did. Mine is in an L shape and I added cushions to the seat and back. The best thing is that you can fit so many people around the table, where as a table with only a certain number of chairs equals the number of people you can seat. I have a round table that came with 4 chairs. I use only 3 and can fit 5 people on the banquette, so I get seating for 8. Another great thing about a banquette is it gives you more room. Since the seating is right up against the wall, you don't need any extra chair pull out room.
I am impressed with all of your photos. Good Luck with the project and keep us updated.

Funky Junk Interiors said...
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Funky Junk Interiors said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ann marie said...

I think I would try an upholstered settee up against the wall, chairs at the ends and a bench that slides under the table when not in use. Another thing that I do alot is actally angle the table so it's not parrallel to the walls. Just a few thoughts... I'm sure it'll end up being beautiful-you've got that knack!

Funky Junk Interiors said...

Cute house!!

El cheapo way. Work with what you have and make it work.

1. Remove EVERYTHING out of that room and put the table of your dreams in there. Don't worry about the rest or the colour yet. Just get it to be the functional space you desire.

If the table is the most important, let that alone establish what will work first. Set your priorites in the right order and it'll make sense.

#2. If it works, now you can fill in the blanks. Seems to be a bigger table (which is what you desire) will eat up the room for other bulkyness, so I'd personally stick with the lovely wall mounted shelf as it takes up no walking space and look for something slim underneath. Or remove it and create a tall but not very deep country type hutch. (like your little one but much wider and less deep to suit the wall.) You're already half way there with the wall shelf. Finding the right slim dresser will do the same thing, just would have abit more of an eclectic look.

P.S. taking down that white railing would really allow things to open up better for walking paths. I did the same to my place. I'll have to show you pics sometime.

Whenever there's a barriere, it eats WAY more space than how it looks, because you are forced to walk AROUND it. Load bearing wall? That's ok. Leave the one beam and beef it up pretty like with moulding with supports coutry style on either side of it. Make it like it's a to die for piece.

As for a table, it would be my personal suggestion to have it centered in the room if your family is larger. If you push one end up against the wall, you create a block of pathway that's critical for a larger family.

Not sure how many chairs you want out all the time, I'm assuming 4? If that's the case, something that's a real room saver is a round table with leaves. Round = sits 4 nicely. Leaves come in handy when more come over.

I've had a round for years and adore it for the space functionality. Walking around it is a breeze, even with leaves because the corners are rounded. Square takes more room.

In a perfect world, I'd have a square long and narrow farmhouse table myself, but I don't have the room for it. :(


p.s. I'll now go and delete my other comments. I keep getting interrupted and wanted to finish! :D

www.thewhitefarmhouse2.blogspot.com said...

I confirmed this with my husband. If the wall where the decorative railing and post is is not running the same way as the peak of the house, it is not a bearing wall. Therefore it is only for decorative purposes. It looks like the wall that seperated the kitchen and nook is running the same way as the peak. That would be a load bearing wall and could not be removed with out increasing the support. So.... you could remove the post and railing. If you would like I could drag my gc hubby over just to confirm.

As for the table, I feel your pain. You do have a small cabinet built into the half wall. If you can get away with not using it, I would make a banquet or bench seating that craps around that corner. A large square trestle table would keep legs and feet from hitting on the legs of a table. Then you could do seating around the other side. Your chairs are great. Especially being that they are folding chairs. You could store those elsewhere and bring them out if you need the extra seating.

HTH and let me know if you need some freebie construction consulting. I'll always loan my hubby out!

Anonymous said...

Love the bench seating with rectangle table and chairs. If you put in a L shaped bench with one bench in area where you have the one cupboard (does it open from other side?) and the long part of the L on the wall, maybe that might work. You can fit more people on a bench than in chairs.

My heart be still-I've always wanted a bench seat. Can't wait to see what you decide. Have you tried looking at some of the seating at Ballard Designs catalog for some ideas?

Craft Tea Lady said...

Although you would HAVE to consult an expert, the thinness of your 'beam' doesn't look like its supportive, but much more decorative. Might be worth checkin' out!



Seawashed said...

Of course I like the idea of knocking that wall out and making your kitchen nook bigger with windows galore, but can you afford that?! I think the Painted Cottage nook is doable for your space....with a farmhouse table, like the one you had when you first moved in. Out of all your tables that one is my favorite! We have a smaller version of the farmhouse table with the winsor chairs that seat six and we've had it since our children we're wee ones so I will probably never rid of it. There are carvings by my children underneath the table top...and they tell me I have to keep it. But I've been planning on sanding down the wood table top and chair seats and then re-stain in dark brown or white wash. Now I'm really liking that bleached oak look of R.A shabby chic.

the decorating chica said...

your current table is very close to the one at Pier 1 that I am loving and wanting sooooo bad. Need it to go on a serious sale though. If it were a tad bigger, I'd offer to buy it from you! Nice kitchen though

Danielle @ Transforming Home said...

What a cute home!
At first glance, and thinking what I would do if it was my home, I would save up for one of those beautiful L-shaped banquettes from Ballard Designs, move everything over, and have the ceiling light fixture moved over and centered over the table.
But, it appears that upholstered seats may not be quite your style (lol). In that case, I love the idea mentioned earlier about taking out that island/peninsula - you would then have a huge eat-in kitchen. You could even extend the cabinetry and countertops into the area where the table now sits, and have a long, skinny farmhouse table right down the middle of your kitchen - like the kitchen in the Cottage Living Dream Kitchen issue (I can send you pics if you would like).
Can't wait to see what you decide!

Donatella said...

It's true, in that first picture- without a leaf, you're sorta stuck I guess, but then, it is pretty, and, it is what it is! :)

Hildie said...

Not a huge fan of the banquette. In theory I like them but in practicality they don't work so well. Everyone has to move when the person in the middle needs to get out. And they pretty much invite kids to sit next to each other and fight. Or maybe that's just my kids.

Maddie said...


I LOVE the blue you have now, but if you must paint it your warm taupe, I understand. At least you still have blue in your bedroom...I think Josh will be disappointed though...he LOVES your kitchen. He wants to do our kitchen blue someday.


As for doing built-ins of any kind, you and I both know they're permanent, and you can't get rid of 'em once you build 'em. Permanence may not be a good solution... ;-) You like change! I'm liking the benches idea with a table in the middle of the room, that can be small for every day, or have leaves put in for when Josh and I come.

As for the wall of shelves, with the white black and taupe, it's beautiful. I love that eating nook!

Another note, I notice a trend in much of your inspiration: white painted bead board. Hint Hint Hint. Do it!

Oh...and if it's not load-bearing, which some of these gals seem to think is the case, knock it down woman!!!

Love you!

Funky Junk Interiors said...

Maddie makes a great point.

If you're a change kinda person, built ins are risky. HOWEVER you can still have everything you desire with found objects. You just have to find the right pieces. And that takes time.

I have NO idea how anyone can decorate a room in a weekend like on those tv shows. I'd probably end up hating it due to hasty decisions. No way. I may move at a turtle's pace, however when I look around my room, the things I love most have been gathered over a long length of time, all at different times.

Just a week ago I ditched a sofa I had. I only spent $30 on it so I didn't care if it went later, it was a quick fix. It was right before, but after actually using it, it wasn't right. And with a $30 investment in it, I gave it away to someone who needed it. No craigs whatever. I'd rather be blogging. :)

Another tip I have is try out the scale of something first for free, before you buy. Not sure how big of a table you'd like? Bring in some boards you can shift around and lay them on top of your exsisting table. Bring in chairs from other parts of the house to simulate the space requirements. And don't dismantle it too quickly. Live with it for abit to see if it works.

Function before fabulous at it's best. :)

I'm a believer in, decorating books may help guide someone to what they want, but ultimately, your place will NOT look like the book. Your place will have it's own special flavor inspired from the book. And in most cases, it'll be BETTER than the book because you're making it work with your place. BIG difference there.

And that pole you may remove? Consider the mark in the floor it may leave. If that's an issue, remove the railing, but dress up that pole to make it amazing. I see a bazillion eclectic hooks hanging from it for an amazing coat tree on all four sides or hanging small doodads or ? Wrap it in branches. Make it look like an amazing pillar with all kinds of mouldings. If it has to stay, you can make it work.

I cannot wait to see where you take all this!


Autum said...

OK, of all the comments, I love your daughter's the most. She knows her mama!
Secondly, thank you so much for including my dining room, your words are too kind!! I have that photo of Jennifer's cottage 8 dining room saved because I so want that wall of shelves.
I personally love using a bench. It slides under the edge of the table when not in use, so it doesn't take up space "visually" and you can seat more by using a bench. A table with a leaf seems like the most practical solution since space is tight and you don't need the extra seating on a daily basis. I like the idea mentioned above of having a narrow but long table. You've got skills, I bet you could build one.
Do you have to have the two pieces that flank the sliding glass door? If those pieces were gone and the railing down, I think it would feel much bigger, even though the pieces aren't out in walking space, they add visual weight and close the room in a bit. They look great with your current size table, but in order to put something bigger in the space, I'd take out any extras and in their place do the wall of shelves, like the cottage 8 photo. They would be a fairly easy DIY job and not that expensive.
Just my rambling 2 cents worth ; )

Maria | Vintage Simple said...

I think you've got it already figured out, lady. Your options are a) a big built-in bench along the back wall (perpendicular to the sliding glass doors). Simple, no frills, you know? No back or armrests at the ends, just a simple bench spanning the length of the wall. (That should be fairly inexpensive.) Paint the sucker white and put a few child-proof (ha!) pillows to prettify, if you feel like it. And then place a long farm table (one that is not horribly wide, you know?) Everything should be pushed to the side a bit, opening up a path for the hairy guy and his squirrel fix (we have one of those, too. She's brown, but equally fixated on the squirrel situation in the backyard. Somebody's gotta keep them in check, I guess!)

or b) get a round pedestal table.

Hope that helps. But really - you'd already figured it out, lady.


Julie said...

What an amazing transformation!! Thanks for stopping by my blog today:)

Unknown said...

I really love your posts, and the way you make us think about our rooms... the size, the color, the furniture and how it makes you feel. kitchen backsplash


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