Need Banquette Seating Ideas

HiGwenApril 6, 2013

I have a small u-shaped kitchen with an ajoining eating area and a complete remodel isn't in the budget. Beyond needing more storage space, one of the main issues we have is that our small, round kitchen table blocks access to our sliding back door. This worked when it was just the two of us, but we're now a young family of four!

I've uploaded an embarassing image with the hope that some of you will offser some ideas on how best to arrange banquette seating in this space. I would like:

1) as clear a path to the back door as possible
2) storage space
3) less mess

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My 2 cents

Put a bench against the "extra counter" wall, a rectangular table next to that. While LO's are small, they can be in regular chairs with boosters, or clip on high chairs (instead of space eating regular high chairs). And you and your husband can sit on the bench. When kids are big enough you can swap. You could also push the table against the bench and wall when you want more floor space for foot traffic.

Put floor to ceiling adjustable shelving by Closetmaid on the wall against the den. This offers a couple of benefits. One is that you won't see the clutter first thing when entering the room. It will look and feel clean. You will have a ton of space for your stuff. It's pretty customizable. It's affordable. We put a huge set in our Living Room for $300-$400.

Long term, would it be possible to put the back door off of the "great room"?

P.S. A mommy-tip from a mom who has also had a growing family in a tight space. I've used the step ladders at Walmart as "youth chairs" for kids too big for high chair/booster but not big enough to sit well on a regular chair, and you can fold and move them out of the way when you are cleaning up or need the space for another use.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 9:38PM
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That is similar to what I was thinking... seating along that long wall with a rectangular table and two chairs. We need daily seating for 4 and ideally, I'd like to seat 6 in a pinch. I am wondering if I can fit a cabinet at one end (or even two narrow ones at each end) to try and get some more cabinet/bookshelf space as well. I'm also thinking of a short cabinet/shelf above the seating for larger bowls and things. I've been searching in vain for photos for inspiration, but not found much.

I was also considering an L-shaped seat that backs onto the peninsula and part of the long wall. Then, fill the remaining space on the long wall with cabinets/shelves.

There's really no chance of moving the sliding door or doing any other major renovations. Reality is that this is a short-term fix prior to moving in the next few years.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 3:18AM
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Holly- Kay

My dd has a long galley kitchen. She used a breakfast nook style table that fits in the corner. It is L shaped and the long part of the L could fit along your long wall and the short part of the L would probably fit in the space next to your slider. There is a bench opposite the long side of the L that tucks under the table when not in use. Take your measurements and look on-line. I do think it would be a good solution for you.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:50AM
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I would go completely through the process of planning and costing the removal of the wall between the kitchen eating area and the great room and the installation of a patio door or alternative in the great room.
That is the optimum solution. DIY it and it may be more doable than you currently think. It always seems to turn out that way.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Yeah, that was our 1st idea. Unfortunately, it's a structural wall, with one plumbing stack, 2 vertical HVAC runs and electrical :(

We went as far as getting structural plans drawn up but cost and timing just don't work with 2 young kids.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:30AM
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OK. just installing a matching(but bigger) doorwall in the great room solves your flow problem on the cheap.
Remove the wall next year.
The trick to baquette seating is the angle of the seat. 7 or 9 degree rear slope is used in commercial waiting room seating to be comfortable and allow a near straight back. All the seating pressure is off the back.

This post was edited by dan1888 on Sun, Apr 7, 13 at 18:07

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 5:58PM
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I appreciate the comments so far. Unfortunately, the great room isn't exactly as drawn. Instead of a large window, we have a fireplace with two smaller windows on either side. Beneath these two windows are basement windows so there's no easy way to place a patio door into one of these existing holes. Local bylaws forebid us to put a doorway along the wall into a 'side' yard.

Modifying the structural wall also has implications for the floor above and the basement footings which is why it is cost prohibitive to modify. It could be done, but not cheaply and we'd never recoup the cost on resale.

To reiterate, we're looking for banquette seating ideas given the existing space constraints. We'd like it to be as functional as possible and look better for resale as we've decided that we'll probably be moving in a year or two.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:20PM
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To follow up my own post, here is sort of what I am thinking.

An example of how seating could work against the peninsula:

An example against the long wall with cabinets on either side. Obviously, the wall is shorter so the cabinets wouldn't be as large, but I really like the symmetry of it. This is definitely my favorite so far:

Curious, how do people feel about cabinetry above banquette seating? Not intending to hold much, just some larger pottery bowls. I haven't found many photos of cabinets above the seats.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Here's an old thread on banquettes

Here is a link that might be useful: GW Ode to banquettes

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:16AM
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This will give you seating for five, leaves a clear path to the doors and gives you room for two 36" full height 12" or maybe 18" deep pantries for storage. A glass table will make the area more open looking. You also have space to mount a flat screen TV on the wall.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:44AM
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I've never built a banquette, but my kitchen and dining room is exactly like yours, layout and dimensions. We don't have a wall between the DR and LR however, so we've put a buffet server on the long wall between DR and LR.

Clearly, you've outgrown your house. My dining room looks so much bigger than yours because I'm not trying to make it do double duty by storing stuff that should be in the kitchen. The open storage is not doing you any favors of making your space look comfortable and peaceful at dinnertime. Rather than built-ins, consider a hutch or buffet server with some closed storage that you can take with you when you move. Simplify your stuff, and I guarantee you'll add to the function, and you'll feel much more relaxed. There's a principle of elementary education that says if the classroom is disorganized and chaotic, the students will be too.

Besides whether a banquette is doable, does it make sense for future buyers? I would ask a realtor before I went any further. I don't like the idea of the banquette against a peninsula with a sink. My counter extends 19" beyond my sink, and I get splash almost to the edge.

Seating--we have a 36" x 54" table--a little narrower than most rectangular tables. We put 4 chairs on the long sides. I find that arrangement more roomy than a chair at each end. Extensions pull out from under the table on the short ends for guests. Mine is positioned with the long side along the peninsula, but you could turn yours the other way.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:31AM
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We're in the middle of building our banquette. I like blondelle's suggestions. If you do what blondelle recommended you could add "morgue" drawers under the benches for more storage. I have 2 4' drawers that will hold rice cooker, crock pot, wok and other real estate hogging appliances. Ikea makes reasonably priced tall pantries and are easily modified to other depths. We did this in our mudroom.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:14AM
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We have a VERY similar kitchen layout as you...U-shaped kitchen leading to small eat-in kitchen area in front of a sliding patio door.

We decided on a L-shaped banquette as blondelle suggested, right behind the sink and along the wall. For storage space, my wife got an idea from some website to use Ikea shelving as a banquette. The "shelves" are laid on their sides and filled with baskets for hidden storage (see below). She then bought padding and upholstery for stylish and comfortable seating. Voila...a banquette on the cheap (trust me...every quote we got for similar built-in banquettes from various carpenters was from $2-3K).

Also consider a round/oval table with a leaf. A round table will provide more clearance and a leaf will give you that extra seating capacity when needed.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Great ideas everyone! Thanks.

We're happy enough spending the money to have a cabinet shop come in and make the pieces but we wanted to find some ideas before we get quotes. We're contemplating removing the soffit, moving up the cabinets and adding a shelf, painting everything white and tiling a backsplash as well. We'll definitely be including as much storage as possible.

At 1700 sq ft. + basement, it really doesn't feel as though we should have outgrown this house (as a couple we lived in very small spaces in the UK and Europe before moving to Canada). The reality is that the kitchen + eating area + door layout sucks. I am always surprised by how little storage there is in this house. The upstairs is perfect, as is our laundry, family room and the large yard. We're planning to move overseas so buying more furniture isn't actually high on our priority list.

Thanks again and please keep the good ideas coming!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:32PM
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