photo by David Livingston
Add up the annual mileage you log shuttling between the kitchen and dining room—and the spilled drinks and broken dishes along the way— and you begin to understand why kitchens have reemerged as the "in" place to eat.

Tellingly, the "EIK" has evolved into a standard amenity for home buyers. "Most of the people in the market for a new home simply expect an eat-in kitchen," says Shirley Zeitlin, president and CEO of Shirley Zeitlin Realtors in Nashville, Tennessee.
Convenience is the prime appeal of an eat-in kitchen: Corralling prep, service and cleanup chores in one room saves steps and time. Eat-in kitchens also satisfy America's growing taste for casual dining - whether it's a launching pad for the Monday-morning exodus or a rest stop for midnight snacks - and complement cooking as a participatory sport. "These days, people are busier and more rushed," Zeitlin says. "Eat-in kitchens respond to the needs of that lifestyle. They allow a family to be together while meals are cooked and served, instead of being split into two or more rooms." An eat-in kitchen can be as simple as a sit-down, dedicated dining place where your cereal bowl doesn't have to compete for counter space with the toaster or telephone books. Here, we're including a variety of styles in custom designs and ready-made products. But the same planning principles work well in any kitchen, whether you're partial to a traditional or a modern look. Whichever stylistic route you choose following are some basic questions to ask yourself:
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