is my eat-in kitchen too awkward for a built-in?

Jewels2013March 30, 2014

I am trying to figure out how to put a table in my small kitchen without blocking the sliding glass door-- or taking up the entire space , since the eat in part leads to the kitchen on the left, the sliding glass door to the deck on the right, and the living room in front facing it.

Would built in seating (in an L shape with the short part against the counter in the middle, and the long part under the back wall window) with a pedestal table look nice? I think this would be a great space saver and look more personal.

Or would it look better by tearing out the island/counter thing and then just putting a table in the middle? I think this might make the kitchen look more open and spacious instead of cramped, but I would lose valuable counter space.

Is there another option I haven't thought of?

Here are some pics for reference. The first three are the kitchen in question, the last two are the kind of built in I have in mind.

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I don't see how you could do an L shaped banquette, but you could do just a built in bench along the wall to the right of the doors and put a table in front of that with chairs on the other side facing the bench seating. It would get the table out of the center of the room. I'd also think about removing those cabinets over the peninsula for a more open feel between the two spaces. If you need storage, you could replace the cabinets with shorter ones.

How wide is your kitchen? I ask because if you did want to open up the space by removing the peninsula you could replace that lost counter space with an island. But only if your kitchen is wide enough for it of course.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:16PM
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this is 50x70''

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:27PM
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with hidden storage

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:28PM
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We recently bought a house that had this built-in. This is the listing photo. We love the banquette.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:43PM
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beanpiele, I am sorry for the confusion I guess I did not explain the "L" part enough.
It would be with part of it as you described, a built in bench along the wall to the right of the doors, and then the other part of the L connected to it along the counter where the barstools are in the second pic.
The counter over hang would be cut off, or the back of the seats built under it so its flush... So basically taking away the eat in counter/stools and in its place the L shaped banquette.

I also think you are correct about removing the above top cabinets! That is something that will definitely have to be done. Unfortunately, the kitchen is not very wide, so replacing the peninsula with an island won't work... if you look at the second picture, that is the whole kitchen basically. The railing in the pictures are stairs to the basement, and the black on the left of the picture is the edge of the fridge, next to which are more counters the same length of the peninsula. So pretty much the whole kitchen is in the picture.

mdln, I love that the one you posted has looong pull out drawers! If this type of seating works out for my area, I will definitely incorporate drawers or flip up storage under the seat, haven't decided which. But now that I think about it, drawers sound better tho because you can access it while someone is sitting on the seats.

abbycat, yours looks so nice under that big window. do you find it comfortable with no "back" to the seating? It does make the area seem taller which would be good since my kitchen is so small.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:58AM
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Could you simply flip the cabinets to run along the wall instead of hanging in a dividing manner? It would be slightly more inconvenient to access them if they hung above a banquette.

I would be great if you could do a quick to-scale layout of your space to help us fully understand what room you have to work with and the full extent of obstacles.

To me a banquette and small table looks doable, but pics-only can be deceiving.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 4:17AM
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Oh that does change the picture for me. I think an L shaped banquette backing up to your peninsula would be optimal. It would be a much more pleasant place to sit because it would give you a nice view out the doors there. I wonder if you could enlarge/extend that window there to give even more light/views to the sitting area. Kind of like that last picture in your post. Then it would feel less like your sitting "in the corner".

I think you have a really cute space there with lots of potential.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:21AM
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Just a pic of a banquette backing to a peninsula I found on Houzz. Looks nice and open to me.

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco General Contractors Moroso Construction

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I can't see a built in unless you moved the sliders to the right to make a real corner for a banquette. However, I can see a rectangular table, maybe bar height, narrow end against the wall next to the sliders, with chairs that push all the way in so it won't interfere with the traffic flow in the room.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:31AM
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I agree that an L shaped banquette backing up to the peninsula is a great option for your space! I think it would work really well.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:47AM
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It does look like it could work, (and it is a good idea) but as Anniedeighnaugh pointed out, it would have to be a fairly short bench to continue to allow access to the sliding door. Does the door slide from left to right, or vice versa? Would you be able to reposition the door or replace with French doors? Just how much seating do you need?

Another option would be to remove the peninsula and replace it with a table that can serve as both work surface and eating surface. You would be losing the cabinet space, though. This is what my great-grandmother had: she kept the chairs parked along one wall to be out of her way when cooking.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Is that your only dining space? If so, I would not want to be locked into banquette seating. Usually homes with banquettes have a dining room too. Then there's the expense of a banquette. I believe they have to be custom made and cost thousands of dollars, not including the table, chairs, and upholstery. Put that money into a new countertop.

I would (and did) get rid of the silly overhang--you don't need peninsula seating in a tiny kitchen with an adjacent dining area. Then I'd use a table and chairs. We have a table with an extension and bring in extra chairs for guests.

You can add 12" deep cabinets to the back of your peninsula--it looks like you have room for them without encroaching on the table and chairs. Measure the floating cabinets to see if they can be used as the base cabs (don't forget toe kick). Then add an end panel to cover the joined boxes. You'll be able to keep your wide work surface on the peninsula.

This post was edited by may_flowers on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 11:01

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Jewels2013 - there are a few cushions that can be used for back support. We sit there all the time because it's so pleasant - comfort is secondary. I wouldn't change a thing about the setup - the listing pic above is what made me want to see the house when we were looking last year. The cabs are a bit dated, the appliances are older and black, the sink a double basin... But we simply loved this eat-in area. The storage is accessible through hinged tops (seats). Oh, and it's perfect for bird watching :)

I think you have the potential for a cozy spot too! The seating can be angled as it nears the slider - looks like the pane next to the corner is fixed anyway.

This post was edited by abbycat9990 on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 11:18

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:11AM
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greenhaven, that is a good point about a layout, I will try and measure tonight after work hours. I am not very good at drawing, but will try my best.

beanpiele, thank you for posting that picture, that is exactly what I had envisioned, with the seat backing up to the peninsula! seeing that picture helps me envision it better in my space.
Funny you should mention the window, too, because I was thinking the same thing! I had even dug through the past sales for my neighborhood (since most houses around my block have the same floorplan) to see if anyone had put a bigger window, and I found one! I REALLY like the way it looks. This person removed the peninsula, so it's hard to imagine the banquette there, but I think it would look pretty good.

annied, unfortunately I can not move the sliders to the right too much, because if you are facing the doors, to the right of them behind the wall is the hall bathroom.

beauty, thank you! I have never actually seen a built in banquette in anyone's house unless they also have a separate eating room , so I'm hoping it works as nice as I picture it.

rae, the door slides from right to left. I absolutely LOVE french doors, I'm glad you brought that up. Most french doors I've seen are more centered on a wall tho, would it look funny having small french doors squished all the way to the end of the wall where the sliding glass door is?

mayflowers, yes, that is my onlly dining space. you are right that if I did this it would lock out other options if I ever felt like changing it up, which is why I'm so hesitant about the idea and can not make up my mind! Also, I would not be spending thousands of dollars, I'm talking more about a DIY simple banquet, and I already have a round table and chairs. I'd be hoping to spend only $500-1,000. I do agree the overhang on the counter is silly!

abbycat, a cozy spot is definitely what I'm going for!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:26AM
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It looks to me that you could probably run banquette seating on the window side to the right edge of the window and not make access to the slider awkward. If you keep in mind 24" of horizontal space per person for seating you could easily calculate how many you could seat.

I wouldn't think a banquette would necessarily have to become a permanent part of the room, either. fasten it down enough t be safe but not so much that it could not be removed at a later date.

And there are LOTS of easy, DIY banquette plans. I researched it pretty thoroughly when I was planning a reno at our last house.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:35AM
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I really recommend that you use 3D software to figure stuff like this out - like the free one on It makes it super easy to move things around and figure out what fits. Built-in seating is pretty easy to do using IKEA cabinets and custom-cut foam pieces that are upholstered.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:05PM
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What would you do about extra seating for family holiday dinners, etc, with a banquet since that is your only dining area? Also, as Mayfowers recommends, the extra depth peninsula is a lifesaver for adequate prep space in a small kitchen. By the way, love that large bay window your neighbor installed. It really enlarges that small space.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Agree with feisty, but the software at the Lowe's website is nearly the same except there are a lot more cabinet options and view options. An "upgrade" of the IKEA software, if you will, and you are not forced to choose from IKEA cabinetry.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:54PM
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How about you use big cardboard boxes and "built a banquette" to see how it feels and works in your space?

Contemporary Kitchen by San Bruno General Contractors BMF CONSTRUCTION

Alternatively, I wonder if you could use a settee or even something like a higher sectional (if that exists):

Something like this:

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen banquettes

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:12PM
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That very last picture is wonderful. What a great place to sit and sip a cup of tea and gaze out the window.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Pretty, but look at the table space. How many people are typically at your table and do they ever eat anything more than a jelly donut? When we have four for dinner, the placemats, table settings, and serving dishes take up the table.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 5:49PM
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nosoccermom: "How about you use big cardboard boxes and "built a banquette" to see how it feels and works in your space? "

best suggestion yet. It is one thing to dream, another to use design software, but I learned that it never translates to real life quite the same as on paper.

When we detached our island I spent two days just rearranging it and playing with the space and seeing how it actually plays out in real life. What looked best on paper did not end up being the best solution at all.

Boxes are a most excellent idea. Even paper shapes on the floor is not the same, since furniture is 3-D and so is walking. ;o)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:01PM
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You could take the sliders out and replace with windows and a single door as in this picture? Just a thought⦠: )

I love banquettes.

Transitional Kitchen by Sausalito Architects & Designers Heydt Designs

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:45PM
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Love them too!

Wish I realized it before they put in the walls, windows, elec, & plumbing. Can not afford to redo everything now. :-(

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:52PM
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I think you have adequate room to put in a banquette. It seems you have at least 7 feet in one direction against the peninsula and even more in the other direction. If you get an extendable table, you can possibly fit more people in by adding chairs for special occasions.

I have a corner banquette using the modular system from Ballard Designs, like the one pictured above (tatertots & jello). Mine is tucked into a corner window. I chose the non permanent system so I could easily change it to a freestanding table in the future if my heart so desired. However, I have a dining area in another room.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:46PM
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robo (z6a)

I'm a booth person so I love banquettes! I agree the table should be adequately sized. Thought: for larger dinners on rarer occasions, you could keep a folding table with stacking chairs. That's what we did in my condo to supplement our usual 4 seat table.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:16AM
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I have a similar banquette to the one @gooster mentioned (her amazing photos inspired me!) and we really like it. The banquette gets a lot of time - meals, homework, Ipad/laptop time, games & crafts, etc. When we have friends over they will sit there and chat while I finish things up in the kitchen, and it's great as a kids' table while the adults are in the dining room. Because of a contractor issue, we got the banquette months before the kitchen renovation started (later this month), which felt like a big risk. But for my small space this is a great solution. Another less expensive off-the-shelf option is the store World Market - I actually had one of their bench banquettes before I realized that I needed the L.

FYI there are tons of DIY tutorials on the web, many using Ikea cabinets; also search GW as there are a lot of threads on banquettes. I swear that I read every one before pulling the trigger! My only advice is that you really need a table with a pedestal base so that it's comfortable to get in and out.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:45AM
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