Before & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

Once upon a time we saw a breakfast nook that didn’t look very inviting, but we loved the gorgeous big windows looking out at the backyard and we knew it had to brought back to life.  So, this is what happened:

Before & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

Like the rest of the house, the breakfast nook was taken down to the studs, but the bones of it are essentially the same.  We replaced the windows and swapped out the vinyl floor so that it would flow continously from living room through to the kitchen and on to the breakfast nook.  To get a sense of how the spaces flow together see here.    But this is essentially a decorating story, with two main players: the antique French table from the late 1800s and the gallery wall.

Before & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

Before & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

The table has been in my family for as long as I can remember.  It has traveled with us to various cities and continents, and along the way has played many parts including dressing table, study desk and kitchen prep area.  If you look at the wood top you can see the table has lived, a few wine stains here, a coffee cup ring there. I love this table. I have so many memories associated with this table that I am glad it has found an central place in our new home.

Before & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

The second important feature of the space is the gallery wall. It has been up for a while and really came into existence because I wanted to minimize the presence of the small TV. I love looking at this wall as each piece was collected in a different place: a flea market in London, a vide grenier in the Périgord, an estate sale in Berkeley, a flea market in Paris, and one print by my artistic brother (the nude in the top right).  The pieces are all so different in style and medium, but happily coexist on one wall.  So much history packed into one little space!

But the banquette is really what made this area of the house come to life.  Hubby looked at various designs online and built the two banquettes in one weekend. Ultimately he decided that it was best to keep the design simple and use a piano hinge to lift the top lid. We also had to create an internal box to vent the heating out of the the banquette.  The banquettes fit the space and suit our needs perfectly.

diy breakfast banquette

We envisioned that banquettes would enable the space to function like this, and we were right.  The perfect place for the kids and their friends to gather.

Breakfast Nook _23 copy

Notice something missing?  A seat cushion.  It wasn’t until a month ago that I got reacquainted with sewing and was finally able to sew two custom box cushions.  For how to make a box cushion see here. I chose a Japanese oilcloth.  I wanted something that would be easy to wipe down so oilcloth seemed like a good choice, but traditional oilcloth was not the look I was going for. Luckily I found some Japanese fabric in neutral gray with a subtle pattern. Perfect. I haven’t sewn in 25 years, so I’m quite pleased with the result.

Before & After: Cozy Breakfast NookBefore & After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

I wanted to juxtapose the vintage pieces with a touch of industrial.  I knew I had a winner with the Victory Pendant Lamp.  The chairs are reproduction of the Emeco navy chairs. The bookshelf is similar to this and is the perfect place for our vast cookbook collection.

Breakfast Nook _19 copy

Since this space is adjacent to the kitchen, I decided that regular bookends wouldn’t do and instead used an old Le Creuset pot, and a large, heavy yellow mixing bowl.

Breakfast Nook _17 copy

The last finishing touch was the bamboo roman shades (mine are Singapore Oak). The blinds took forever to get made, but they do fit perfectly in the space.

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, for us, our breakfast nook is the heart of our home.


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Jackie - I hadn’t seen the before picture before. Wow. What a visionary you toe are. It’s a beautiful sanctuary just like the rest of your home.

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