Look back at these photos and illustrations that capture the essence of vintage breakfast nooks from the 20th century… and maybe even offer inspiration for your next DIY project.
The art of the built-in booth or bench
Built-in seating has always been a popular choice for breakfast nooks. In many vintage designs, bench seating is seamlessly integrated with the architectural features of the room, be it through matching woodwork or complementary color schemes.
The importance of textiles
One recurring theme in vintage breakfast nooks is the creative use of textiles. Whether it’s patterned cushions, colorful upholstery, or eye-catching curtains, textiles often serve as the finishing touch that brings a nook to life.
Nature meets breakfast nook
In some vintage breakfast nooks, it’s all about bringing the outdoors in. Whether through the use of large windows, potted plants, or nature-inspired materials like wicker or rattan, these spaces create a tranquil setting for enjoying a morning meal.
From ornate woodwork to sleek metal frames, the tables in vintage breakfast nooks are often as noteworthy as the seating. The choice of table can set the tone for the entire space, serving as a focal point that either harmonizes with or stands out from its surroundings.
Practicality isn’t sacrificed in these cozy corners. Vintage breakfast nooks often incorporate smart storage solutions, from built-in drawers beneath bench seats to overhead shelves that keep essentials within easy reach.
Below, we’ve also reprinted the plans for a DIY breakfast nook where the table and bench themselves are the storage solution — a clever idea from 1961 is perfect for extra-tight spaces.
As you can see in the photo collection below, there’s a vintage breakfast nook to suit every taste. The common thread that runs through them all is a sense of comfort and intimacy, creating a space that invites you to sit down, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures of home.
Yesterday’s families endured kitchen tables – get a kitchen booth nook (1962)
Padded yellow diner-style vintage 50s breakfast nook
Retro early 50s breakfast nook off the kitchen
Retro kitchen booth from the 1940s
Retro round breakfast nook idea (1950s)
Simple breakfast nook booth sharing a wall with the kitchen sink (1940s)
Vintage kitchen booth seating (c1930s)
Vintage kitchen booths in chartreuse and blue
Yellow and teal kitchen with eat-in nook
1950s breakfast nook with circular booth
Cool retro kitchen features from 1945 – Built-in booth seating
Vintage kitchen from 1953 with yellow padded booth seats
Kitchen from the 1940s with booth seating
Retro kitchen booth – dine-in style from 1940s
10 old-fashioned breakfast nooks, just off the kitchen (1940)
By Myrna Johnson – Better Homes & Gardens (October 1940)
Side by each go planning unit, your kitchen office, and half-moon leather-upholstered bench with its handsome pedestal table. Note how the curve of the seat, the table, and linoleum stripe all enhance the rotund design. A favorite spot for snackers old or young.
Here’s a bright brain wave for tucking a dining spot into your too-big kitchen — even into ex-pantry space. You just raise or lower the Venetian-blind partitions at will.
In airy contrast to modern wallpaper is the light background of shelves gay with pottery — makes you forget the wall space and is a backstop for the whole setup.
What a jolly idea for that lovely bay window in your breakfast nook (a long, straight window would do just as well). Glass shelves for plants and bits of colored glass… a simple shelf table supported by brackets… chromium and fabrikoid [pleather] stools — that’s all the equipment you need.
The simple chintz draperies are printed from a precious old document pattern. Woodwork and ceiling are cream-white paint. We wouldn’t recommend stools for children at every meal, but they think it’s fun to perch once in a while.
Dainty and distinctive is this bay window at the end of a corridor-type kitchen. Light where you need it and where it best pleases your eyes filters thru soffit panels overhead, thru structural glass blocks alongside the bay window, and just above the sink. Whoops, my dear, these curtains! But it’s California, so laundering’s no weekly problem.
My, what immaculate sophistication! There’s white glass paneling for the walls, with wine-colored tapes on Venetian blinds and wine leather upholstery for exciting contrast. In your own kitchen, why not work out such a scheme of hanging glass shelves, bright with jam pots, hearty plates and little decoratives?
If you’re anti-conventional, how about this for an idea? Floods of light for the morning paper, and a swell spot from which to gloat over your garden come spring. This curved corner interrupts a straight L-shaped kitchen.
You’ll love the airy lightness of both dining and work areas, the latter guaranteed to make vegetable-paring and dishwashing easy fun. Here’s top-flight efficiency, from the electric dishwasher straight around to the serving counter flanking the range. You might lower the upper cabinets a little if you aren’t able to reach them.
Cozy for breakfast or any meal. If you’re “against” built-in seats or benches, here’s a modern scheme where every fellow boasts his own private chair. The wallpaper glints a joyous color note, with the painted wall by the sink echoing the yellow of the wallpaper background and the stripe in the lassie’s dress.
For the curtains, we suggest yellow puff balls to carry the sunshine theme to hems and tiebacks. Even canisters in the cutie porthole are yellow. A grand spot for eating or cooking. It’s better planning to avoid the high, dust-catching cabinet tops whenever possible.
All set for easy dining? That’s exactly the result when you have a serving shelf between kitchen and dining area. Those slits in the bar partition are just right for large trays, torte plates, and such.
The floor is a study in truly practical beauty — vibrant orange linoleum set off with two feature strips of white and one of black. These colorings form the decorative theme for other furnishings and equipment.
Aiming to keep eating and cooking pretty much apart? Then here’s an alcove that does it. Seven big apples guard the doorway. But don’t bite — they’re linoleum.
Walls, floor, borders, and apples are first-rate examples of a dandy linoleum ensemble. A snap to keep clean, delightful to live with, and so attractive to look upon.
Shutter off the kitchen clutter at the drop of a Venetian blind! If you’ve a kitchen, a pantry adjoining, and a supporting wall that can’t be moved — tuck this idea away in your thinker.
Blithe Roman stripes tie curtains in kitchen and chair seats in eat spot into the color scheme of linoleum and painted walls. Outlets to the right and outlets to the left are in order for breakfast coffee-maker, toaster, waffle iron, or snack grille.
Retro 1940s kitchen with built-in booth nook
Cute 1950s breakfast nook semicircle booth
1958 vintage green vinyl booth
A kitchen booth from 1953
Retro kitchen booth with retracting countertop from 1958
Vintage 1950s kitchen with breakfast nook and booth
Late 1960s kitchen with big padded booth breakfast nook
1960s-style breakfast nook with hanging floating bench seat
How to make a fold-away dining corner in your kitchen (1961)
A family-centered dining nook tucks away into warm wood paneling
Here is an idea that will provide additional living space in your home without having to add an extra room. It is a complete dining center that blends into your kitchen wall when not in use.
A beautiful wood-paneled section beneath the functional countertop swings downward to form the legs of this unique dining booth. Its brightly colored cushions create an atmosphere of gaiety that the entire family will love. A durable, spacious dining table swings out from the wood-paneled wall, ready for instant use.
Cute DIY kitchen divider made a breakfast nook (1964)
This space-saving DIY kitchen divider was good for two reasons: it added a bright personal touch that every home needs, and it wouldn’t make a large dent in your budget.
Simple frames were made of 1×2-inch pine stock, with hexagonal chicken wire/steel netting set into each one. The frames and netting were then painted to match the dark colors of the patterned sheer white fabric (stretched across brass rods), which hid the kitchen storage and work counter.
The clear netting above let in the window light — and light from the ceiling globes — into this little breakfast nook. Floral wallpaper in bold warm colors filled both rooms, including the ceilings. The dining area had red/orange with yellow flowers, while the kitchen featured yellow with a red floral pattern.
A cozy little green striped dining nook (1974)
Compact cantilevered booth seats in white & green fit perfectly in this small eat-in kitchen
This bright & fresh retro eat-in kitchen decor scheme was zesty yet peaceful, with its palette drawn from the freshness of springtime.
The sheet vinyl flooring (1974’s Bravissimo pattern from Armstrong) featured a stylized flower pattern in green and yellow, while the fabric on the bench seats and the room divider were narrow stripes of white, medium green and a vivid lime green.
Rather than a traditional table and chair setup, this room had a dual bench-style setup with a sculptured geometric flair. The two cantilevered booth seats were made of thick white suspended T shapes turned 90 degrees and attached firmly to the ground.
Between the two facing seats was a white rectangular table, itself suspended only by two thick rectangular frames. Not only was the design playful, it was practical, too — the pieces always stayed in place (important for a small room like this), and the sculpture-like structure made cleaning underneath it easy.
A cozy quilt-look eat-in kitchen experience (1974)
Breakfast, lunch or dinner would have been a sunny, warm affair in this California kitchen/dining room, as seen back in the mid-1970s.
This California country-style breakfast nook had big patterns everywhere. The designers, Rowen & Mentzer, combined two distinct country patterns to cover the walls — and even the ceiling — of what is most easily described as a country-style breakfast nook.
The first wallpaper print featured squares arranged in “crazy quilt” style. In it, there were nine different two-pattern combinations with 8 triangles arranged in a pinwheel shape. This geometric print was repeated in the fabric for the chair cushions.
The second wallpaper style, below the quilt design paper, had a yellow background with repeated large patterns of multicolored flowers. The vintage baskets hanging on the wall above the hutch were family heirlooms.
NOW SEE THIS: A 1970s designer dream house: The American Home of 1974