Much of the lifestyle we became accustomed to before we were blindsided by a pandemic has transformed. I joke with one of my beloved clients that I have learned the art of pivoting due to her sometimes quickly changing mind. My ability to pivot has also been fortified by the rapidly changing industry of building materials and furnishings brought on by the pandemic.

It feels like emotional whiplash learning and subsequently delivering news about delays and discontinued items with clients. Were it not for my robust spiritual practice, I would be catatonic dealing with the stress of this industry, not to mention the heartbreak in the world today and the emotional fallout of being a mom, a wife, a friend, and a business owner. The most heart-centered way I can move forward is to focus on creating beautiful home spaces that encourage our clients’ families to gather. Gathering presents itself differently for many of our clients, so we take that into account when designing their spaces.

The Bay Area is teeming with foodies and home chefs who adore a well-appointed kitchen. A sitting area keeps friends and family out of the way while creating an invitation for everyone to participate in the theater of cooking. The breakfast nook is an ideal way to accomplish that, and serves even more purposes. Whether preparing and enjoying a meal, doing homework, reading a magazine, or playing Wordle, a nook is the pandemic’s answer to staying close and modernizing the dining experience.

More and more, I hear stories from friends and clients about how they are beginning to see friends again. I see how humanizing that is. One underlying theme I hear most is that we are all holding our beloveds a little closer, and lingering in hugs a little longer. Witnessing the atrocities happening in Ukraine invites us to remember that nothing in life is guaranteed.

It was the highlight of my weekend to receive a text from a client who shared that they were enjoying their atrium with friends. “The room feels warm and wonderful and playful,” he wrote. How does it get any better than that?! (Thank you, Chris!)

It can be difficult to feel gratitude instead of guilt when we are blessed with so much. However, as many wise people have reflected, feeling bad for others does not make their situation better. In fact, recognizing gratitude and meaning in our own lives is the best thing we can do to keep us out of fear and inaction.

What better way to be in gratitude and feel close to your people is there than cozying up in a banquette? It can hold you, contain you, and feel like a hug. For those who might feel stifled sitting in a booth, it’s important to round out the experience with a couple of chairs. I’ve curated some inspirational nooks, along with tips for creating your perfect multipurpose gathering space in your home.

Four tips for those considering creating a breakfast nook:

1. Find a corner where a built-in can be added along with a small table and one or two chairs.

This corner by LMB Interiors blends built-in seating and chairs. Photo by Mo Saito.

2. Curved lines and ovals make it easier to slide in and out.

A nook with curves by Emily Henderson Design. Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp.

3. Make it a destination and a cozy container.

Freestanding banquettes create a built-in look. Photo by Eric Rorer.

4. Consider putting one in your formal dining room.

This design by D’Apostrophe blurs the line between dining room and breakfast nook. Photo by Gregory Holm.


A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post