Dining in the Kitchen by Katherine Sorrell

Design a comfortable, practical and stylish place to sit down and eat in your kitchen.

Preparing dinner while your children do homework at the table, or chatting to friends while you cook a tasty meal, is hugely appealing.

Make a floor plan, taking into account the doorway, windows, any radiators, cupboards and so on. Plan your kitchen eating space early on, with wiring to allow suitable lighting over the table. Consider available space, the number of regular diners and what functions the table will serve. Ensure any seating area is not on a through-route and allow between 600-750mm of circulation space behind chairs.

In larger kitchens, the obvious choice is a standalone table, either parallel to the island or in the space provided by an L-shaped run of units. It might be possible to build in benches to save floor space, or an extending table is another great option. Look for a table that is easy to clean and that complements your kitchen style, perhaps harmonising the tabletop with your kitchen worktops. Alternatively, continue the island unit with an adjacent but lower dining table, either in one line or at right angles.

When space is more limited, adding bar-stool seating around one or two sides of an island unit works extremely well. A difference in worktop materials, or a slight change in level, will separate cooking and eating areas, and the counter should have an overhang that extends by at least 30cm, to give enough space for knees to fit in below. A hob or other cooking area incorporated into the island should be far enough away from diners to protect them from splashes or hot surfaces. Bar stools with cushions or upholstery, a supportive back and a foot rail are more comfortable and height-adjustable stools are ideal when family members are different heights; otherwise, measure the available height carefully to ensure stools will fit under the countertop.

In tiny kitchens, a counter area for two or three people can consist of a slender ledge with stools underneath and is perfect for enjoying a coffee or a quick breakfast. A small flip-down table can be attached to a wall or island and lowered at mealtimes, with folding chairs hung on wall hooks when not in use. A pull-out worktop would also be ideal as a breakfast bar for one or two people. With thought and ingenuity, you should be able to fit an eating area into your kitchen, whatever its size, shape and style.

CAPTIONS

1 This island unit combines cooking and eating, with a change of worktop material and handy storage shelves. Kitchen, from £25,000, Day True: 020 7788 9229; daytrue.com.

2 By extending an island unit at a lower level it is possible to create comfortable dining on a relatively small footprint. Profile collection handleless kitchen in Anthracite Gloss, Trend Interiors: 0800 028 4466; trendinteriors.co.uk.

3 In a spacious kitchen it may be possible to include a standalone dining table as well as an area for high stools at an island or bar counter. Alderley kitchen in Bone, from £15,000, Kitchen Makers: 024 7667 1600; burbidgekitchenmakers.co.uk.