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An eat-in kitchen is a kitchen that has been designed to accommodate diners. There are a variety of ways to seat diners in such a kitchen, ranging from building an extremely large kitchen that comfortably holds a table to creating a casual counter for people to eat at. Many people think of an eat-in kitchen as an amenity, and they look for this feature when looking for a rental or purchase home. Others consider it to be a burden, associating the design with small, cramped houses.
Individuals may see classified ads with the seemingly cryptic “EIK” amid the string of other mysterious acronyms used. This simply stands for eat-in kitchen, and it can be a useful alert, depending on whether or not someone thinks that it is a good thing. No matter what side of the debate a person stands on, he or she should remember that it is possible to have a dining room for more formal occasions along with an eat-in kitchen, and many large homes are designed to do just that.
In the most casual form, diners sit on stools at a counter. This is common in small kitchens, although larger ones may use a counter seating area as well. In these cases, a lounging counter separates a kitchen from a dining area, creating a space for people to socialize with the cook without feeling distanced. In these situations, people can sit at the counter for casual meals, or move to the dining area for more formal ones.
It is also possible to find an eat-in kitchen that has been designed with a breakfast nook, or a similar large space that accommodates a table. Depending on the design, the nook may have built in benches and a table, or it may be left unfurnished, allowing people to make their own decisions about how to use the space. In other instances, a kitchen has a large space in the middle for a table.
Many people find this type of kitchen to be a convenience. With the eating and cooking areas combined, people do not need to ferry food to the table, risking spills and cold food. The table can also be used as a kitchen prep space when people are not eating, and the isolation of all food activities to one part of the home can make cleanup much easier. When more formality is desired, however, an eat-in kitchen can be awkward, leading some people to seek out homes with flexible dining arrangements to satisfy their entertaining needs.