We have an eat-in kitchen. Since, it has a washable floor, that is where I make Science happen. Well, I don't make it. But, I do allow science things to happen in there.
One kid had stuffed piled up that was non-messy. Messy stuff was on the uncovered side. Not sure if that would have helped in case of a spill. If you click over to flickr you can see notes and stuff.