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Living Space: Eat-in kitchens keep meals, families together

By Victoria Advocate
Nov. 23, 2011 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Nov. 24, 2011 at 5:24 a.m.

This contemporary eat-in kitchen features both bar-style seating for quick-dining and booths with their cozy, intimate appeal.

By Kathryn WeberThe eat-in kitchen, once a standard fixture in many homes, is back in vogue. Whether it's a banquette or a retro Formica-topped table, the comfort and nostalgia of the eat-in kitchen is showing up in new homes and renovations. The eat-in kitchen harkens back to family meals on the table by 6 p.m. and all things warm and homey. But beyond the eat-in kitchen's sentimental appeal is its practicality.

Casual comfort

The formal dining room comes and goes in popularity, and the same has been true with the eat-in kitchen. Now, homeowners are realizing that having an eat-in kitchen just makes sense. The arrangement makes dining easier, with fewer trips from kitchen to the table, and confines food preparation and eating to a single room. Besides saving space, it's more convenient to move plates directly from stove to table. And since everyone gathers in the kitchen anyway, it's more practical to stay and eat there, too.

Eat-in styles

There's more than just one style of eat-in kitchen. The standard is a table in the center, but booths have now become trendy again. They offer the option of keeping everyone together in the kind of seating everyone heads for first at a restaurant. Kids and adults love booths for their intimacy and cushy comfort. And a booth can be a real space saver in the kitchen. Because booths are typically anchored to a wall on one side, this leaves more precious floor space available.

A table attached to one end of an island is another option for eating in the kitchen. This kind of set-up keeps diners in the kitchen, but out of the way of the busy cook. Often, a piece of stone can be attached to the end of an island at table height for dining. Eat-in spaces can also be situated on an island or the ledge surrounding the cooktop or sink. If your family has to eat on the run, bar-style dining offers the best arrangement for fast serving and cleanup, especially if the counter is set against the kitchen sink.

If there's room for a full-size table in the center of the kitchen, it's critical that the cook have ample space to get to the stove, sink, refrigerator and preparation areas without having to walk around the table. Another consideration is foot traffic. For safety, eat-in kitchens need enough room to accommodate a cook and someone passing behind him/her, as well as unobstructed pass-through space around the table.

Social dining

An eat-in kitchen offers a charming, old-fashioned way to reconnect during mealtime. It also lets the cook stay involved with guests and family members while preparing a meal. Besides being practical, an eat-in kitchen offers more opportunities to socialize - and there's nothing wrong with a little extra togetherness.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.

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