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What is an Eat-In Kitchen?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon994149 — On Jan 19, 2016

Eat-in kitchens are very common in Spain, where we use them as a daily dining but we also have a flexible dining area in the living room when we have guests. I am very used to this formula and it is very practical because it is very easy to keep everything clean.

By shell4life — On Feb 18, 2013

I love my best friend's eat-in kitchen. She has a booth with benches that is situated against a wall beside a window, and it feels like eating at a restaurant with a view.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 17, 2013

I think an eat-in kitchen design can be very cozy. I love serving the food right there on the kitchen island as people sit around on bar stools.

It just seems more intimate than sitting at a huge table. I like eating in the kitchen with my two best friends on Saturdays. It feels completely informal, and that is how I like it.

By healthy4life — On Feb 16, 2013

@giddion – Having a house with only an eat-in kitchen can make moving into a home that has an actual dining room seem like such a luxury! I lived in a home with a kitchen like yours for many years, and I hated it.

The table took up so much space, and this made kitchen decorating impossible. I barely had enough space for the things I had to have in there.

I love my dining room, and I don't ever want to have an eat-in kitchen again. I do have a bar, but I use it to prepare food instead of for eating on, because I want plenty of space in my kitchen.

By giddion — On Feb 16, 2013

I lived in a mobile home for the first eight years of my life. There was no dining room area, and the small kitchen design meant we had to eat in a cramped space.

At the time, having an eat-in kitchen didn't seem like a bad thing. I was so small that I never felt cramped, but I know that my mother did.

By submariner — On Jan 28, 2011

In my opinion, your kitchen renovation ideas sound better with a hard surface in front of your eat-in-kitchen bar. I have seen similar designs where the area in front of the bar is finished in hard wood or tile, then the remaining areas are carpeted. Bar stools will be easier to move if the surface is smooth. It might be safer if your bar stools are able to slide a little bit instead of being on carpet. It seems like it would be a little more stable.

By Babalaas — On Jan 26, 2011

I am planning on putting new floors in my kitchen, and I am wondering If I should keep my eat in kitchen as carpet or if I should go with tile. I will try to give the best description of my eat in kitchen plans as possible. The kitchen is square with a half wall that has a bar counter that opens into the living room. When you walk out of the kitchen, you step down onto the carpet in the living room. There is also a carpeted platform that is about four feet by eight feet directly in front of the breakfast bar.

My thoughts are to pull the carpeting off the bar platform and install the same tile as I will install in the kitchen. I thought that it would be a better surface for bar stools, and make cleaning spills easier, but I don't know if it will look okay with the carpet in the living room. Does anyone have any advice?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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