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.
Bungalow builders and architects dealt with small houses by making the best use of small spaces, 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.
This is the third of three posts on breakfast nooks at this site. Read more about breakfast nooks (and see many more photos) here and here.
Below are pictures from Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, showing the breakfast nook (with prices) of the early 1920s.
The 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog shows two breakfast nooks.
"The Dawn" has a fold-away table.
When the sun comes out, the table automatically drops down into place! Awesome!
"The Dawn" is 2'6" wide and 4' long. Pretty small, but the price is right.
The Sunrise is only $32.90. I'll take two!
"The Sunrise" lacks the automatic features of "The Dawn," but it is a much nicer looking table, and quite a bit larger, too.
Cover of the 1932 Montgomery Ward Building Material catalog, which featured breakfast nooks.
A close-up of the built-in breakfast nook featured on the cover of the hardware catalog.
The "cozy corner dinette" sold for a mere $14.95. Nice looking, too.
Another room? Well, maybe. Good-looking nookie, though.
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!
The "Pullman Breakfast Alcove" came with your Sears Ashmore. More modest than the others, it has simple benches with no seat backs.
And it's in color! From a late 1920s Wardway/Gordon Van Tine catalog, this breakfast nook looks cozy and inviting.
And the real deal – in the flesh – a 1930s breakfast nook as seen in the Sears Lynnhaven in southern Illinois.
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 email@example.com
* * *
The caption for the Dawn reads: “When the sun comes out, the table automatically drops down into place! Awesome!” I asked my husband how this was achieved back in the 1920s? My husband thought about it and then announced, “the only way it could have been done is with a bi-metallic strip that pulls a pin from a loop on the table which causes the table to drop down. Something would need to concentrate the sunlight on bi-metallic strip to cause it to heat up enough. That’s the only way I can think that it might be done”.
I love the concept. I would love to construct an updated model. Do you know if my husband is correct? There does seem to be a metal plate of some kind on the wall. I looked at the description of the Dawn and was surprised that there is no mention of this incredible feature in advert copy.
By the way, I have been down in VA, on Eastern Shore this last week and I saw a Sears bungalow style house, (a 2 bedroom) for sale. I considered purchasing it too. By coincidence I came home this morning to discover your site for the first time. I enjoyed it very much; interesting, both the Sears houses as well as your intriguing and strange real life family murder mystery/ghost story. In fact, I posted a link to your site on my page on Facebook I liked it so much.
I once had a 1907 Sears catalog cast iron converted wood burning stove with oven. That was in 1970. It was the best stove I ever used. I couldn’t manage to cook a bad meal on it. Since then I have been a fan of their early catalogs and offerings.
If you look at the original catalogue page pictured there is no such caption below the picture. The catalogue ad says nothing about that feature.
The author just added that (that it goes down automatically). Possibly at an attempt at humour(?).
Rose’s Reply: Yes, it was an attempt at humor. 🙂