At the Breithaupt home, our breakfast room, like most, opens into our kitchen. Everyone in the house visits the kitchen or sits at the breakfast table—often both for breakfast and dinner — every day. Between meals, afternoon coffee, and late-night work sessions, these days it seems like the breakfast room sees more use than our dining room and living room combined.
Shreveport is full of homes built in the 1950s and ’60s that feature small galley kitchens. If you’re lucky, your kitchen has an attached breakfast room big enough for a table and chairs or at least has ample space in the kitchen where your family can sit and eat together.
And if your family is like mine, you spend quite a bit of your time together either in the kitchen or sitting at the breakfast table nearby.
So why not spruce up your breakfast room a bit to make it an even nicer place for you to gather with loved ones? Here are nine ways you can add space, modernize or create a breakfast room at your house:
1. Restaurant-style benches. Utilize benches around a table—instead of chairs—make room for more people to crowd around your breakfast table. Consider having two benches built in: one each against two intersecting walls. Top the benches with foam cushions and throw pillows covered in fabric that coordinates with your kitchen curtains, if you have a window, or with the room’s color scheme. On the remaining sides of the table, stick with chairs. You’ll be able to squeeze two more people around the table instead of moving dining room chairs to the breakfast table when company comes.
2. Enlarge the windows. Older homes typically have undersized windows. A breakfast room should shout, “Good morning!” to even the sleepiest-head in your family as they shuffle in for the day’s first cup of coffee. How better to do that than with big windows that invite sunshine into the room? Replace your small windows with large ones that let in more light and display a view of your yard.
3. Add a door. A door to the outside—especially if it includes windows—can do the same thing. Plus, you can crack a kitchen door open on nice days to draw in some fresh air and the welcome sound of birds chirping in the mornings.
4. Upgrade the lighting and electricity. Most 40- or 50-year-old houses came with four-foot-long, fluorescent tube lights in the ceiling that crackle and pop every time you turn them on. Today’s lighting choices are much better: recessed, track, task and hanging fixtures emit a better quality of light and, if you choose compact fluorescent or LED lights, are far more energy efficient. Consider replacing that chandelier-style lamp that has always hung above the table. Recessed lights make a room look more modern and updated. Installing hidden charging drawers for your electronics means that devices are ready to go at the drop of a hat.
5. Install open shelving. That old, built-in buffet or hutch whose drawers hide china or junk that you don’t want visitors to see is dating your room. How about tearing it out and replacing it with an open hutch or a wrought-iron display case, where you can show off your wedding china and your most cherished knick-knacks? An open case will make the room look larger and less crowded.
6. Convert the “telephone desk.” The built-in “telephone desk” came standard in so many Louisiana homes from the 1950s through the ’80s. Once upon a time, it was the place to sit and pay bills, to locate a stationary telephone—before the days of wireless phones—and to store cookbooks. Now, you could use that space for something else: storage or extra countertop space, for instance. Tear that old desk out, and you can convert the space to an area that you’ll use more often.
7. Create a “triad.” Open up your kitchen, breakfast room and den so anyone in any of those rooms can see into both of the others. That way, the cook isn’t isolated in the kitchen while everyone else is in the den watching the big game or sitting in the breakfast room chatting about plans for the day. It’s a fairly big project that involves removing walls, but you’ll be so glad once you connect those three separate rooms with big, open walls, wider doorways or handy pass-throughs.
8. Add square footage. No room for a table and chairs in your kitchen? Consider adding on to the house to make space for a breakfast area. Or build a breakfast bar that juts out from the kitchen just far enough for a couple of bar stools and a counter big enough for a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice. Any place to sit and eat brings family members together for meals.
9. Pull up your old, vinyl kitchen floor. Take a look at wood or wood-look laminate flooring for the kitchen instead. While you’re at it, tear up the carpet in the den. If your den, kitchen and breakfast room are connected through open spaces, each room will look better if its floor matches the floors in the other two rooms.