A quintessential country kitchen carries food and eating at its very heart, whether that’s a large farmhouse table at its centre, on which to both prepare food and dine, a smaller rustic butcher’s block, or an island with a place to perch for a casual family meal.
'The saying "the kitchen is the heart of the home" is never more relevant than in a country kitchen. We are often asked to create multiple dining zones within one kitchen. Whether that be an island, banquette window seating or more traditional dining at a table,' reveals Rebecca Hughes at Rebecca Hughes Interiors.
If it’s a cosy farmhouse feel you’re after then a long planked kitchen table in oak or pine is a good choice. 'If room allows including a traditional dining table will complete the country-style kitchen and enable the family to enjoy meals together in comfort,' says George Forsyth, director at Drew Forsyth & Co.
If space is at a premium, consider placing a bench or banquette seating to one side, and add storage below for extra table settings.
For more modern country schemes a smart expandable design, with elegant dining chairs will provide a chic but cosy place to sit, whether the party is big or small.
1. Soften sharp lines with curves
While painted Shaker or Edwardian-style cabinetry is often a key component of country kitchens, it can feel slightly linear.
In this all-white scheme by Neptune, a sense of softness has been achieved by incorporating a round dining table rather than an oblong one and adding softly sculpted dining chairs dressed with soft calico covers.
Chichester Kitchen, from £14,000, Neptune
2. Make room for more
A small dining table with banquette seating serves two important functions, providing more seating space that takes up less room is of course the most important.
It can help with storage space, too by incorporating drawers beneath to store table linens, seating cushions and much more.
Kitchens from Simon Taylor start at £35,000
3. Pull up a seat
Bar seating at a country-style wooden topped island is the perfect casual eating alternative to a formal dining table.
While it won’t accommodate all the family, bar stools can be used to give a central island an extra function and then be pushed neatly back under the worktop overhang to make space when they’re not in use.
Bespoke handmade Kitchen by Charlie Kingham
4. Use colour as an anchor
Pair an angular, wooden dining table with rustic, curved-back farmhouse chairs painted in the same shade as a dresser to pull the various elements of a design together.
Darker shades for the wall panelling, dresser and kitchen doors help to add depth, while paler tones employed on the flooring, worktops and walls and a tall cabinetry bank prevents the darker shades from becoming overbearing.
Life Kitchens start at £25,000.
5. All together now
Family gatherings are clearly at the centre of this design by DeVol for presenter Zoë Ball. The long built-in banquette that divides the room serves to both zone and bring together the scheme by using soft furnishings and a bold feature wallpaper in similar tones.
Relaxed bench seating, rather than chairs, on the kitchen side of the table help to make things feel even more homely and is helpful where space is tighter.
6. French farmhouse chic
Situated in the centre of the room in place of a more modern choice of an island, this pale wood dining table with tuned legs is the perfect look for a more formal Galic-inspired room. Paired with high-backed, upholstered chairs and cool grey cabinetry it exudes grand country house elegance.
Kitchens by Harvey Jones start at £20,000
7. Get the light right
Lighting can make all the difference to a workable kitchen design – both in terms of where you place it and what you use. This is particularly true when planning a dining space in a room where many functions are likely to be carried out.
In a country scheme, modern task lighting such as spots and LEDs in extractors should be teamed with more vintage style pendants over dining tables. Place them carefully to provide enough light, without impeding the diners’ vision or freedom of movement.
Mornington kitchen from PWS.
8. Table for two?
Demonstrating that even the most bijou of kitchens can incorporate a dining area, this design by British Standard features a flip-up table with just enough room for two place settings.
To further reflect the country feel, the accompanying farmhouse chairs have been painted in colours that contrast with each other and with the rest of the room.
British Standard by Plain English kitchens start from £8,000.
9. Have it all
If both an island and a dining area are on the must-have list but room is at a premium, combining the two could be the answer.
In this Artisan kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford, one side of this kitchen centerpiece is a prep island, with incorporated sink, while the other accommodates a curved built-in seating and a neat, round dining table.
10. Make it natural
Don’t be afraid to mix it up when incorporating wood into a kitchen diner design.
A variety of timbers – including a dark oak plank table, original beams and pale wood worktops and bun handles – provide both warmth and interest to this country kitchen from Drew Forsyth & Co.
How do you zone a kitchen diner?
The size of a space will dictate how well it can be arranged into zones for food prep, cooking and eating. Moving the table away from the cooking area will help to indicate purpose, as will placing beneath it a contrasting flooring to the working kitchen space.
Stone tiling works well to demarcate a preparation and cooking zone as it’s easy to keep clean, while something softer and warmer to the eye and touch, such as original or engineered wood planks will sit well beneath a dining table. Using similar, coordinating tones and textures throughout an open-plan kitchen diner will help to unite the spaces while at the same time keeping their functions separate and clear.
What are on trend dining set ups for a country kitchen?
A large rustic table, if there’s room, sets the tone for a country kitchen perfectly.
'There’s nothing better than having a multi-purpose surface that will accommodate family meals, baking projects and homework, too,' agrees Karen Read, kitchen designer at Neptune Weybridge. 'And as your kitchen table bears the brunt of family life, it will take on the unique character of a piece of furniture that is an integral part of your day-to-day. We always encourage extendable tables so you have that flexibility to entertain larger groups without the fear of where everyone will sit.'
Using mismatched ladder-backed or vintage church chairs, perhaps painted in a range of colours reflected in fabrics used elsewhere in the room will keep the look relaxed, preventing it from feeling too formal. Mismatched china will give the space a ‘grandma’s kitchen’ vibe, too.
Think Willow pattern blue and white partnered with lots of chintzy florals, or opt for modern china with wonderfully eclectic patters such as those from Emma Bridgewater, Sophie Allport or Burleigh.
What is the best flooring for a country kitchen diner?
Country kitchens are all about the celebration of natural materials. If you want a tiled stone floor throughout, opt for rich, traditional terracotta tiles or rough-hewn limestone flagstones. For a more modern approach, try composite large format tiles or porcelain to replicate natural materials without the cleaning and maintenance issues.
Contrary to popular belief, wood is a good choice for a kitchen diner as long as it’s well sealed to fend off water ingress. It can particularly help to soften cabinetry painted in some of the darker shades popular right now.
'Country kitchens should be full of character and warmth. Engineered wood flooring is ideal for the kitchen environment too, as it can be used with underfloor heating and won’t be affected by humidity,' advises Peter Keane, Director of The Natural Wood Floor Company.