Banquette seating is a stylish solution for tight spaces and creates intimate conversation areas within your home.
Banquette Seating Options
Derived from the French word for "bench," a banquette is quite simply an upholstered bench positioned along the wall of a space. Typically, banquettes are built-in or fixed to the wall, but sometimes they are freestanding. The most comfortable banquettes feature padding and upholstery on both the seat and the back.
Banquette seating can line one wall or wrap two or three corners. It allows for more people to gather around the table without feeling crowded, and provides for an informal dining setting. Although banquette seating is popular in restaurants, it adapts to several spaces within your home.
So your kitchen is just a little too small to be a true "eat-in-kitchen." By installing a banquette, you can maximize what space you have. Situate your banquette in a small corner, preferably with a window.
Rather than buying a traditional dining table, consider using banquette seating in your dining room. Attach one side to the wall and use freestanding chairs on the other side of the table, as you would see in an elegant restaurant. This frees up the other side of the room for a china cabinet or sidebar.
Banquettes are often used to create window seating. Add plenty of throw pillows to enhance your comfort, and use the space beneath the bench for built in storage. Install doors or drawers, as found in yacht design.
Banquettes can be purchased with a variety of upholstery options, and if you custom order or build your own, the possibilities are endless. Vinyl is an affordable option that lends a retro look, while on the other end of the spectrum, real leather is rich and sophisticated. Add details like tufting for an elegant look, or add texture by choosing a luscious suede.
You may also choose to upholster your banquette with fabric, but be sure it is treated to be stain resistant. Canvas and denim are popular choices for their durability. Choose a solid color for a modern space, or go with a bold pattern for a retro or traditional look.
When using a banquette, you must decide what shape of table to use: circular, rectangular or square. Keep in mind that the standard height of a dining chair is 18 inches, and ideally your banquette top should be the same to provide clearance for your knees under the table.
Build Your Own Banquette Seating
Banquettes get a bad rap for being uncomfortable. Traditionally, banquette benches were only padded with about two inches of insulation. Build your base lower so that there is room for four or five inches of padding, which will make a much more comfortable seat and will invite your family and guests to linger. For detailed instructions on how to build a banquette, visit HGTV.com