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