The Casual Kitchen

source // design by Susanna Salk

There’s been a shift away from the formal dining room lately. House flippers are doing away with them to add another bedroom, office or family room. People are opting for smaller homes, forgoing a formal dining area. Many renovations opt to tear down confining walls in a desire for open concept where the dining room sits somewhere between the kitchen and living room.

While I fully support these more casual approaches, I like to host! I need more than a four-seat table in a breakfast nook or an island to eat at. A dining room has always been a must on my house-hunting checklist.

Confession Time!

Personally, I’m not a big fan of open concept. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. I do. But it’s just not my style. Can I confess something else? I expect some pushback but, here is goes: I don’t like kitchen islands. There. I said it. Functionally YES! I have one in Beatrice Bungalow – the first I’ve ever had – and I love its convenience. But they’re so bulky and in your face. (I’m talking about the traditional cabinet-based kind.) Especially in open concept floorplans. I’d much rather have counter space along the wall with no uppers, giving me space to prep.

Anyway, this brings me to a newly-used but very very old idea: a dining table in the kitchen. Not adjacent to, not in a nearby but distinctly different space, but actually in the kitchen. This harkens back to the days of one-room cottages and small, casual homes.

I keep coming back to this word: casual. I think that sums up my style. I’m never going to have an elaborately designed dining set or a glam glass coffee table or a romantic sleigh bed. I like casual, comfortable but still stylish. A mix of antiques and modern pieces, cohabitating together. I love the look of a modern sculpture on a weathered, 100-year-old sideboard or a sputnik light fixture over a well-worn wooden table.

Anyway, while yes we are making our home open concept in our renovation, I’m excited to bring in this element of casual – a dining table in the kitchen!

Here are a few examples:

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Wow, right? I love everything about this casual kitchen. And while the incredible vintage island steals the show, notice the table and chairs behind it.

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I love how quiet and simple this kitchen is. And there’s a rocking chair. In the kitchen! The dining nook feels so comfortable – I can picture the family spending time there doing homework, eating dinner, playing board games. I love all the open shelving and hanging pots too!

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This house was the inspiration for our entire kitchen. I love the long weathered table, mismatched chairs, vintage hutch, lots of whites – perfection. This is the vibe I want my home to have.

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The seating on this one is only on three sides, but picture it all the way around, still with storage underneath. This is exactly what we’re going for. Also, notice the inset cabinets?? The cabinet color? The vintage runner? The matte black lights? The lamp in the kitchen (which is another recent trend I’m loving!)? Gorgeous.

source // design by Susanna Salk

Every single thing. The table, the fireplace, the beams, the lights, the mix of antique and modern seating, the doggie (!), the styling – gah I love this. That table is almost exactly what we’ll be building, but with a marble top and table-height.

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While this kitchen isn’t as much my style, I love the coziness of the dining table and the great use of space! Also, are mismatched chairs a must for in-kitchen dining? I think so! (P.S. is that a cement backsplash?? So cool!)

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I love all the wooden mismatched chairs, the antique table, the black cabinets.

So what do you think? Do you like the “casual kitchen” idea? What are the cons?

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