Could a Scandinavian Eat-In Kitchen be for You? Yay or Nay

During my  2 1/2 week visit to Finland with my Mom, we visited a lot of friends and relatives and saw a lot of kitchens during that time.

Not a single kitchen had an island.

Every single one had a friendly dining room right in the middle of the kitchen.

It was so welcoming and social, I loved it.

Since then, I have been in two clients homes who were renovating their kitchen. In both homes, I suggested eliminated the island.

One literally didn’t have room for a dining area anywhere else but the middle of the kitchen.

The other had a huge, fabulous window in the kitchen that I thought would be perfect for a dining area. But that would mean eliminating the island.

Neither client embraced that idea at all.  Didn’t even consider it for a single minute. Both immediately declared they needed more space for prep and storage, even though there was a pantry wall nearby that could have accommodated more cabinets.

And I get it. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE does that here in North America. The purpose of this post is to put the idea out there in case you hadn’t considered it.

But not a single house had an island in Finland.

This was the warm and cozy classic white kitchen of my aunt  (my late Dad’s sister) whom I mentioned here.

Note the fridge in this kitchen (below). One side was a fridge and the other, a freezer.

Here is a photo of my aunt whom I loved immediately upon meeting her. I love that she dressed for lunch!

Another home we visited while in the town my Mom grew up in:

No surprise I had to buy a bigger pair of jeans when I was there. My hot tip if you are on a long European vacation, don’t bring jeans that fit your current size if they don’t stretch, haha. Since then I’ve been intermittent fasting (nothing until lunchtime each day) and I easily dropped the weight. I think I’m onto something!

And you all saw this kitchen of my Mother’s cousin when I talked about how most homes in Finland were seriously missing lamps with shades:

Above photos by Maria Killam

I loved this article I found by a Wall Street Journal reporter called: Why Kitchen Islands are Ruining America’s Kitchens. It’s a must read if you are considering this style of kitchen.

Let’s see some other kitchen without islands shall we?

Kate St Hill

Frenchy Fancy

Okay this is hard. I can’t find any. The above two are obviously not from America.

And the bottom two are OLD. They might be the only ones that exist in our country, haha.

Update: A few readers have sent me some more beautiful kitchens so I’m adding them below:

Smith and Vansant

Lisa Mende Design

Jenny Rose-Innes


Centsational Girl (she wrote a post about eat-in kitchens back in 2013)

I’m posting this photo (below) because I just love the feeling of this kitchen.  Is the subway tile mint green or is this just the evening light?

I think it’s white. It would be odd if the cabinets were a violet grey and the subway tile was a barely there mint green.

Angie Hranowsky

This table-attached-to-the-island look has been around for a while. I like this look but I’m not sure if it should be built-in.

Easy enough to just place a table this close to the island and this way it can move.

I do think this kitchen has been beautifully styled and photographed and I’m betting that those two stools were brought in just for this photo.

Who would want a hard stool like that to sit in every day? Not me. And look, they don’t even have four of them because they were brought in just for this picture!

Eric Piasecki

Over to you my lovelies. What do you think of this idea? Should we just go back to the Scandinavian style table that just encourages a social atmosphere?

I’m loving it myself. There are times when my guests end up eating dinner around our island and frankly it would be more comfortable if we were just sitting at a table in the middle of  our kitchen!

Related posts:

A Townhouse in Finland makes Tuscan Look Fresh (Before & After)

Ask Maria: Help! My White Kitchen Cabinets Seem to Change Colour

Ask Maria: How Soon Will my Farmhouse Look Dated?



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  1. can’t find other comments, but if you look at the “mint” tiles under the shelf, all the way on the right,
    those tiles look white.

  2. How interesting this topic is! I didn’t even realize that my mom has done this all along! Growing up in our first house, a family of 5, we always had supper at the kitchen table, in the kitchen. My mom placed the formal dining table in her large living room. Again, when we moved to a new home when I was a teenager (many years ago), we always ate at the small kitchen table (only big enough for 4, one brother had moved away) and for larger or more grand occasions (my mom likes a little high drama or afternoon tea with china) we use the dining room table in the next room. But I’ve always loved the cozy kitchen table. Plus if we ate at the dining room table, that meant having to get out of our casual clothes & dress up, which I was not fond of, as I was a bit of a tom boy.

  3. I am almost done building our house – and the whole thing centered around EXACTLY this. People think I’m nuts – I can’t FREAKING WAIT. Going to me fantastic.

  4. I am a Yay.
    We have a narrow galley style kitchen with a four chair table at one end. I find the layout, while small and compact by some standards, to be very efficient. We have ample storage and work space. As we garden we put up our harvest annually, and cook from scratch every day so our kitchen is heavily used. I will sit at the table when I have large amounts of preparation. Guests sit around the table and chat as I cook. We eat our everyday meals at the table when not dining out on the patio. I wanted a kitchen island until I actually experienced cooking in a kitchen with one. The island blocked access between the stove and the refrigerator or sink, forcing the cook to circle around the island. Possibly poor design?

  5. My husband and I just built a home with this design. No dining room just a farmhouse table in the middle of the kitchen. We love it! I can send you photos if you wish. I designed the kitchen with a built in china hutch and all of the appliances except the stove are paneled and integrated. Limestone walls and art work add to the effect. You honestly forget your in the kitchen!

  6. Way back in the day, here in New England, kitchens didn’t have cabinets with countertops at all. The table was the work surface. And yes, open concept plans often use the island as a way to delineate the kitchen from the living area. But I would rather not have my kitchen in my livingroom, thank you! Unless I plan to film a cooking show in my kitchen, I’ll take a big table in the middle of the kitchen every day of the week!!