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The Built-in Breakfast Nook: Practical, Easy to Build, and Darn Cute

Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify, simplify” (and Ralph Waldo Emerson is purported to have responded, “I think one simplify would have been enough”).

Thoreau would have loved the early 20th Century breakfast nook!

Built-in breakfast nooks became wildly popular in the early 1920s and especially so in kit homes. After the grand Victorian home fell from favor, the bungalow craze took over and suddenly The Little House was the best house to have.

Bungalows were beautiful but a little cramped, especially compared to an Italianate Victorian! Creative builders and architects improvised by creating intimate spaces in small areas, such as a built-in table and matching benches for the morning meal. It was a wonderful idea, and also saved the housewife some work. It was  easier to set up and clean off a small table in the kitchen than dealing with the big fancy wooden table in the dining room.

Below are pictures from catalogs and magazines of the time, showing the breakfast nook of the early 1920s. At the bottom is a picture from a 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics, showing a “convertible” breakfast nook! Table by day, stiff-as-a-tabletop bed by night.

The first is from the February 1911 Ladies’ Home Journal. It appeared in an article titled, “If a Woman Must Work From Home.”

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute.

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute.

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This simple breakfast table was offered with the Sears kit home, The Verona.

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Cover of the 1932 Montgomery Ward Building Material catalog, which featured breakfast nooks.

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A close-up of the built-in breakfast nook featured on the cover of the hardware catalog.

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cOn page 34 of the catalog, this "cozy corner dinette" was offered for $14.95. Not a bad deal. And it's made of clear western white pine and needed a small space of 5'6" by 3'8". Nice looking, too.

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Nook room

Another room? Well, maybe. Good-looking nookie, though.

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This fine looking table was offered in the Sears Preston, a spacious Colonial kit home. Note that the benches don't have backs! Nothing says comfort like a hard-plaster wall!

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Nook

This page features the breakfast table offered in the Sears Magnolia. These seats have backs!

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Breakfast

This "breakfast alcove" came with the Sears home, The Honor.

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The "Pullman Breakfast Alcove" came with your Sears Ashmore. More modest than the others, it has simple benches with no seat backs.

And its in color!  From a late 1920s Wardway/Gordon Van Tine catalog, this breakfast nook looks cozy and inviting.

And it's in color! From a late 1920s Wardway/Gordon Van Tine catalog, this breakfast nook looks cozy and inviting.

The image below appeared in the June 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics and provided the ultimate space saver. By day, it was a cute little trestle table with matching benches. By night, it was an extra sleeping space for your overnight guests.

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Easy to make and simple to use, this "convertible" breakfast table provided extra sleeping space for visitors.

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As seen in the 1919 Popular Mechanics, this breakfast nook could be folded out into a bed. Overnight Guests - it's what's for dinner!

And the real deal - in the flesh - a 1930s breakfast nook as seen in the Sears Lynnhaven in southern Illinois.

Sears caption

Awesome rooster towels not included.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To contact Rose, send an email to thorntonrose@hotmail.com

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  1. March 24th, 2011 at 11:05 | #1

    I once rented a little house with an adorable room that used as a breakfast nook. If I remember correctly, the table/benches looked just like the set in “The Honor.” It was a wonderful old home on the water in Lake Charles, La.

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