Make a Built-in Breakfast Nook
This custom-built bench offers seating, hidden storage, and a whole lot of charm.
Built-ins add functionality to any space, but few types offer as much day-in and day-out utility as a breakfast nook. For this project, the client had a compact kitchen that didn’t leave much room for a table and chairs. It was a space just begging for a breakfast nook.
A breakfast nook allows at least half of the seating around the table to be flat against the wall, eliminating the space needed behind chairs. It also allows the table to be tucked closer to the corner, opening up floor space, improving flow, and making the room feel bigger, all while offering additional storage. Unlike bookcases and window seats, a breakfast nook is a built-in that is likely to get daily use and abuse. So besides needing to be aesthetically pleasing, it has to be functionally designed and built to take a beating.
Dimensions to know
I’ve built enough breakfast nooks over the years to have a basic formula for dimensions. I usually aim for an 18-in. finished seat height, which includes cushions. Standard thickness for foam is 4 in., and I allow for about 2 in. of compression, so I usually design the bench so that the plywood below the cushions is 16 in. above the finished floor. For seat depth, I like 18 in. from the front lip to the lowest portion of the angled backrest. My designs don’t typically include a cushioned backrest, but if yours does, you will need to adjust this number to account for the added thickness.
While a straight back is easier to build (especially in a corner bench), a slight angle — 7° is what I used here — adds quite a bit of comfort and visual interest. If I’m tucking the built-in below a window, I prefer to use the window stool height…