Banquette as only dining area?

fishymomJanuary 8, 2014

My son is closing on his first home, a split level that needs updating. We are working on making the kitchen, dining, living room area work for him. He currently uses the bar in his apartment for meals and is adding one to his new kitchen. He also needs a table in the dining area. Due to space limitations, we are considering an L shaped banquette with half wall on the short side to extend the adjoining living room wall a bit. I think this will create a bit more delineation between the rooms without closing in the small area. The living room side will be a bookcase. Since there is no other dining area in the home, do you think it is a mistake to do a built-in banquette?

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Here is a view of the kitchen from the real estate listing that shows the living room wall. The area where the sofa extends past the wall is where we are considering a half wall. There will not be a chair in the walkway.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 9:30AM
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I don't have a built-in banquette, but I do have a half-wall like the one you're proposing. I like it. The space is still open, but there's a delineation between living and dining that works for me. I don't put things on top of the wall so it stays uncluttered. I used to wonder what its point was and if I'd be better off without it, but I like how it defines the space.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Thanks Linelle for your response, glad to hear you like your half wall! I don't imagine my son will put anything on top either, especially since the other side will be a seat.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:51PM
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I want to start by saying, I love banquettes! But....

does you son have children? Does he cook a lot? Host dinner parties?

It seems like the L-shaped banquette and half wall would be a wonderful idea...if it fits his lifestyle AND he plans to stay in the home for a while.

If not, then he may eat mostly at the bar and a small bistro or pub table might be all he needs in the space. Maybe a bookcase facing the kitchen (storage/cookbooks) could provide the half wall you're imagining?

Don't get me wrong, I think what you're describing would be really charming! I just don't know if it will be easy for his friends to slide into a small L-shaped banquette. If it's roomy enough and comfortable....then it may work out to be a great idea! Just a few things to consider :)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 1:13PM
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People love them or hate them (banquettes). I love them, but understand the "trapping" issue. I think one would work here. There would be 3 or four regular chairs for those that prefer a chair or need easy access.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 1:19PM
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A bit about my son, he is 27, an engineer, single, no children. He currently travels quite a bit for work, but will be moving into a position that requires very little travel in the next month or so. He does not cook or entertain much now, mainly due to time and travel constraints. He is a pretty casual guy and when he does entertain, it tends to be informal, barbeque, pizza and the like, although he does enjoy cooking and baking with friends and family. His new home has a nice outdoor living space as well as a finished basement where he will most likely do his entertaining. We as a family are pretty informal, we prefer buffet style holiday meals, with some people sitting in the dining room, some in the breakfast nook and some on the patio. We tend to congregate in the family room, kitchen and patio area, rather than the formal living room and dining room, part of the reason my son chose a home without formal living space.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think the banquette is a great idea...a good way to make a small space seem larger and make it more functional. I think it will work well for him and his lifestyle and be an efficient use of the space.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 5:43PM
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Pallet & Palette

They make a table for this type of banquette that you might want to consider. Rather than a stationary table, which does indeed trap people, it is movable. You take hold of the table and it swings on a heavy arm very smoothly and pulls out of the way, allowing people to exit gracefully without disturbing others. The water doesn't spill out of the glasses, because it just glides. It gives you all the plusses you're looking for without any of the minuses.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 6:01PM
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We just are in the process of going from a small kitchen and an adjoining dining room to a large-ish kitchen with a banquette. The banquette will be our only true eating area. We will have a narrow island, but no seating with it...the banquette is it.

"We" is just my DH and me, with a few occasional friends or family over. It's an almost "never" that we have more than 5 people in the house. We expect to have two regular chairs at the table and two medium length benches that form an L - we anticipate that we could place 5 or 6 people at our table comfortably if needed - some people don't like to be on the inside portion of the banquette seating, we know, but when I was a child, my parents had banquette seating and I remember liking that table.

We are planning on having a rectangular table that sits on more of a pedestal base rather than one with legs at each of the 4 corners, which will help with people getting in and out more easily.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Let me start by saying I have a 24 y/o daughter...;)
Great house for your son! I love the banquette idea. Sounds great for the lifestyle he has right now. I would make the table flexible with extensions, extra chairs just to make it flexible since it is the only dining spot.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 8:17PM
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Ppbenn, I just had to tell you what a giggle you just gave me!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 10:47PM
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We put in a L-shaped banquette using our existing half wall. We do have a dining room but we use it for office/computer/school work. There is no eating in the room, just a desk. Our table is a custom built square pedestal. It moves quite easily despite being large.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Ppbenn, we need to talk, lol! The banquette just got moved up on the priority list since the kitchen reno has been pushed back to summer, so we will be looking for a table to go with the banquette this weekend!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:06AM
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We took out our formal dining table, opened the wall from our dining room to our kitchen, and now have a banquette as our main dining area. It has worked out great for us.

It's important to get a dining table that makes it easy to get in and out of the banquette. Here's the one we use - there are others with a similar table base which I think you can get for less price.

BoConcept Extendable Dining Table

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Personally I am not a big fan of banquettes. (Feel free to stop reading if that automatically puts me on the wrong side of the debate.) I don't like built-in furniture in general: banquettes, built in sofas, built in window seats, etc. I don't like the look really, unless they're small an intended for more intimate family dinners or homework, etc. I don't like the trapped feeling, especially for entertaining.

I would be more inclined to run the table the opposite direction to separate the spaces and provide a more designated "dining" section of the room. There is someone here who remodeled a beautiful kitchen that has a dining room table between kitchen and family room area. I love the way it divides the spaces but keeps things open.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 3:22PM
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My last house was like this and instead of building a pony wall I turned the rectangle table so it went across the room instead of along the wall. There was still plenty of space to get by with people sitting there and it helped to visually divide the space.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:29PM
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If your son goes to a restaurant, does he prefer a booth or a table? If he prefers a booth, then its a great choice for him.

I had a banquette in my old kitchen, made from Ikea cabinets that suited our tiny space. For my renovated kitchen, we did a large banquette.

It's a personal decision. Some people like them, some people hate them.

You can check out the old thread about banquettes for some ideas. I'll link to it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ode to Banquettes

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:31PM
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But if the kitchen is being renovated this summer (only 5 months away!) then I'd hold off on the banquette until you redesign the kitchen. Maybe there's a better layout. Can the door next to the table be moved towards the living room?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:33PM
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If your son goes to a restaurant, does he prefer a booth or a table? If he prefers a booth, then its a great choice for him.

Not necessarily. I always choose a booth over a table in a restaurant because I like the greater privacy, which isn't an issue at home. I'm not a fan of banquettes at home (they're okay, and I wouldn't reject a house because it has one, but I wouldn't build one myself)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:34PM
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I agree with sjhockeyfan's comment: I choose booth over table at restaurants for the same privacy and noise control factor, but those are non-issues in my home.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 5:31PM
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Thank you for the replies, lots of food for thought. The kitchen work this summer will be relatively minor, staining base cabinets, replacing the short wall cabinets with taller, more functional ones, adding some open shelving and creating a bar. My son is sold on the banquette, so we are moving forward with our plan. Dilly, we are using Ikea expedit bookcases for the banquette, wish me luck!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 5:37PM
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I'm kicking around the same idea -- should I have a medium-sized table and banquette as my only eating area?

My mitigating factors aren't quite the same as yours -- I welcome any thoughts y'all have:

- We will not have a breakfast room, and we will not have seating at our kitchen island. Thus, whether we go with a dining room table or a banquette /table, this will be our only eating area.

- When I go to a restaurant, I'm firmly in the camp of, "Booth, please". I love everything about sitting in a cozy little enclosed spot. When I was a kid, we had a breakfast room with a tiny banquette and table in a butler's pantry, and I LOVED that little room.

- We're building a retirement home, so I want a table that won't feel ridiculously over-sized when it's just the two of us . . . but will also seat six adult comfortably, eight adults squeezed in.

- My dining area's going to be in a 12 or 14' x 8' "bump out" with lots of windows, all oriented towards the back yard. If I go with a plain table and chairs, I can have floor-to-ceiling windows in the bump-out, and I LOVED my floor-to-ceiling windows in my old house. If I go with the banquette, I'll stop the windows above the backrest, which means less window /less view of the pool.

- We're in the Deep South and most of our entertaining will be done outdoors. We'll have a pool, a covered (not screened) back porch, and an outdoor kitchen planned around my husband's beloved Big Green Egg grill. With 45 acres, our outdoor seating will be essentially unlimited . . . the point: Indoor seating isn't our biggest priority.

- Our entertaining is always casual. In our new house, I imagine pot lucks on island and people seated at the table, out on the porch, and with plates balanced on their knees in the living room.

- We're looking at building a straight-booth type banquette and having chairs on three sides of the table. We'd still have the "trapped in the back" issue, but the older folks who have more trouble scooting could be given the easy-access chairs, while the children scoot to the back.

I go back and forth on this idea. Again, I welcome any thoughts anyone has, given my specifics.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:19PM
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