I learned what a “banquette” was at about 6 years old. (Although I wasn’t aware of the term at the time.) It was at my childhood friend Bobby’s house on Waverley Street – right there in his kitchen, sat two built-in upholstered benches, with a shiny white table in between – just like the ones you see at the diner. It was small, cozy, and the most unique thing I’d ever seen. I loved it!
I loved it so much I installed one in my own home – many years later. I love nestling in on the weekends with my morning coffee, lingering over great dinner conversations at my friend’s home – and I love designing them for my clients.
No two banquettes are the same. Each one has a personality of its own – fitting seamlessly in to the most unexpected spaces – never failing to provide a tremendous sense of style and comfort. It’s where families gather to share their events of the day and where we feel enveloped with a sense of warmth and protection at night. Best of all a banquette is suitable for any style of kitchen.
These banquettes typically require less space for traffic flow, provide great additional storage solutions and ultimately seats more than conventional table and chairs.
Take a look around your kitchen and neighboring spaces and see how you could make the most of your kitchen dining area with a space saving banquette. Maybe you have an old butlers pantry, awkward corner, inefficient laundry area or window alcove that’s a perfect fit. Bay windows are an ideal spot for banquette dining, and could potentially seat 6 – 8 people comfortably.
7 Tips To Consider When Designing And Building A Banquette.
- Function. -Know how you want this dining area to function for you. Will it be used for homework, computer time, reading, lounging or for meals only? Design it accordingly.
- Comfort. – For a more comfortable seat consider a cushion of 4-5” thick, and be aware of the firmness of that seat. It will compress and ultimately change the height slightly. With a cushion this thick, your base seat should be 14-15” high (finished from the floor). It may seem low, but once the luxurious cushions are installed the proportion will be perfect. Lastly, angle the back slightly to allow for maximum comfort.
- Size. – If you’re opting for a more contemporary look without any seat cushions at all, then the finished height of the seat base should be 18” high (from the floor) and have a seat depth of a minimum of 18” (for your tush). When upholstering the seat and back, provide a good 24” overall for depth of seat which will allow for the thickness of the upholstered back. Measure a favorite chair at home to help you determine the finished height and depth you like.
- Shape. – Banquettes can be designed in all shapes and sizes and ultimately depends on how much space you’re working with. L-shaped, U-shaped, curved or straight, your banquette will become a focal point in your kitchen.
- Space. – Each person will occupy approx. 24-30” of space to comfortably eat while using a fork and knife. That said consider 24 square feet will seat 4 people.
- Practicality. – Upholstering the banquette seats and backs in a faux leather, vinyl, or outdoor fabric will make it much easier to maintain and is also much simpler to slide in and out of. Loose cushions become more problematic and are less comfy – and it’s all about the comfort factor!
- Storage. – I prefer large storage drawers beneath the seat rather than hinged lids. It’s much easier to operate and access. Making things even easier have an operable drawer pull out from the side of the banquette base if possible.
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Article by Lori Gilder, Architectural Interior Designer, Los Angeles, Ca.
© 2009 Lori Gilder. Interior Makeovers Inc