The beauty of a kitchen nook is its flexibility. From a little work area to a dining spot for the family, plus friends, kitchen nooks are at home anywhere.

Uses for kitchen nooks

• Casual place for dining. A kitchen nook is perfect as an intimate space for one or a sprawling seating area for a whole family to enjoy quick breakfasts and informal dinners. Snug seating, characteristic of a kitchen nook, makes mealtimes more intimate.

• Hideaway/retreat. A kitchen nook can be used as a little office just off the hub of the house, or a reading area with bookshelves, a window seat and a sunny place to enjoy your thoughts. Kitchen nooks have the perfect personality to be a room for one, with a little banquette or comfy chair, a ledge for a cup of coffee, or a table big enough for a bowl and a book.

• Storage. A kitchen nook can house floor-to-ceiling bookshelves for recipe books or plates and dishes, or vintage cabinets to display collections. Built-in banquettes also offer generous storage.

Looks for nooks

Kitchen nooks are fast becoming beautifully decorated spaces, invested with wallpaper, lighting, upholstery and artwork. Not just a quick spot for dining, kitchen nooks are designed for languishing over long meals, chatting with family and friends, working with a cup of coffee, and retreating from the hub of the home and the busy-ness of life. Especially in small apartments, a defined kitchen nook increases the scope of the living space.

A kitchen nook can be created almost anywhere – from an area in a large, open kitchen where over-scale lighting fixtures, artwork and rugs can be introduced to define and anchor a distinct space, to a wall in a kitchen passage where fold-out chairs and a flip-out table, anchored by artwork and a rug, can be put to use for any purpose.

Because they lend themselves to being comfy and cosy, nooks inspired by nature, with yellows and greens and botanical prints, are sunny spaces – especially effective if they overlook a garden. For warmth, introduce rugs, thick upholstery, loads of cushions on banquettes, comfortable chairs, oversized wicker lighting fixtures, and open cabinets with collections of porcelain, dishware, pottery or teacups. An eclectic seating area with an antique table and modern chairs adds character and texture to a space.

Essentials for kitchen nooks

• Lighting fixture. This is useful to define a space and give it intimacy.

• Seating. Banquettes are popular, coupled with free-standing chairs to complete the space.

• Table. The table may be big enough for a family or small enough for one, depending on the size and use of the space.