Making the most of the co-joined kitchen diner

Kya deLongchamps offers ideas for successful kitchen/diner combinations that will tempt you to eat in every night.

CONFIGURING a new kitchen with any sort of airy, open plan layout is one of the most brain boiling adventures in a house build or renovation.

Add the need for a principle dining table, attached to, or adjuncting the cooking area, and the fun really starts.

Here are just a few ideas to keep you spatially aware but hungry for change.

Go Big

Anyone who was lucky enough to get a copy of Declan O’Donnell’s ‘Rooms’ for Christmas (Hachette Books, Ireland, €24.99) will know that he loves his kitchens and his advice on sizing a table incorporated into an what he calls the KDL (kitchen/dining/living) area is one of a thousand of his useful insights.

The fFounder of ODKM Architects, he advises: “If you have room to put a kitchen with the dining space, then the key is to go big. Get the largest size that can comfortably fit — one that can seat eight at least — and keep it extended all the time.”

Simply put, sturdy generous square metres are inviting, not only for dining but for a myriad of other activities. 

The spatial considerations will be around 90cm to pull a chair back at its deepest point and pass behind a sitter, and at least 70cm of elbow room.

Where your diners are against a wall, 50cm is the absolute minimum to shuffle out of position. For a floating look, consider posts and panel supports over legs.

Shared storage elements like cutlery drawers that open on the kitchen and dining sides of a partition of base units are a neat 1970s trick. Talk to your architect, riai.ie.

Budget & Blow Out:

* Wellington extending table, 230cm out, Harvey Norman, €699.

* Windermere refectory style extender, 350cm out, €3699, Casey’s Furniture.

Islands or table?

The inevitable kitchen island is not for everyone, and with a young family, it’s worth considering returning to a single galley, U, or L shaped kitchen.

There’s no doubt this is a more elemental success with an Irish or French farmhouse timber kitchen, but modernists should not dismiss the idea. 

Park up alongside a high-sided block of counter where comfortable work/play dining surfaces and legged furniture would function and look better, letting light bounce and fly.

London kitchen from O’Connor’s of Drumleek - a grown up dining table is incorporated into a vast central island.

The struggle here is to inject enough formality for this casual table placement, beloved of our Continental cousins, to play the evening sophisticate.

Distance from food preparation adds mystery and suspense (and privacy for the culinary disasters side-stage).

An island with a deep overhang can serve for dining but without a split-level surface, will demand stool heights. 

For inspirastion on who to achieve the grown up look, take a look at the impressive London kitchen island, (above) of O’Connors of Drumleck, oconnorsofdrumleck.ie.

For tables, consider scale, soft corners and ensure the cook has passing room of at least 1m all around.

Pay attention to a lighting plan to isolate the dining scene and transition from breakfast antics to relaxing suppers.

Budget & Blow Out:

* Bjorn 8-12 extending dining table €689, Bjorn chairs from €95, www.meubles.ie (Kilkenny). 

* Eight-legged Skovby dining table with 2 leaves, seats up to 16, €2019 www.arnotts.ie suggested chair Calligaris Claire, €699 for two.

Conjoined wins

Cabinets and counter materials can drop down from a galley counter, island or peninsula to a large, sensitively integrated lower level extension of table, providing a proper dining zone, defined from, but physically joining the kitchen cabinetry and more than a cantilevered snack bar.

Anchor with a shift of colour, lighting, and material contrasts (laminate to wood or a slab of marble or poured concrete is popular). 

Alternatively an appropriate squared off, heavy table can be set against the outside of base cabinets or even tucked into one face of an island, sharing storage elements. 

Skovby table and chairs. See the full range at www.skovby.com

Keep in mind, one end or side of the table will be sealed off as it adjoins the kitchen units, allowing easy reach for dishes and drinks over the dividing run of counter from the hot zone.

Where space is tight, a bench on the high-traffic side of the table rather than full-backed chairs, pares back vertical intrusive lines when you don’t need six to eight seats at a sitting.

To make use of a corner or back-to-the-wall situation, look at American styles of upholstered banquette seating with overhead storage, or lift-up seats.

Budget & Blow out:

* Whywood upholstered bench, Meadows & Byrne, €398.

* Integrated bespoke table in width of at least 90cm, length to suit, in Carrara Venato, POA, www.stonesurfaces.ie 

Statements matter

Indicate the character and some standalone quality in this dining area, especially if it is all you have, with a drop in the ceiling height including spots on dimmers, the presence of a roof window (by day), a lighting arrangement of 2-5 drop pendants from a ceiling or bar, or a theatrical floor lamp swooping overhead and down to the table.

Even when placed by kitchen cabinetry, in a U or L, the zone for dining can be signalled by a strong colour, timber figuring or great chairs. Even raw, minimalist lines need sight lines and contrast to suceed.

Budget & Blow out:

* IKEA PS Maskros pendant, €100.

* Pier Giacomo Castiglioni authentic Arco chrome and marble floor lamp by Flos, €1755, Ambiente Direct.



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