Are banquette benches a new fad?

eleenaMay 6, 2013

I wanted one ever since we moved to this house 10 years ago because the BR configuration was sort of "asking" for it. But then I got a breakfast set in a hurry because someone was coming to visit and I was ashamed of my old set. :-) Plus, I always knew I had to re-do the kitchen.

Now I see banquette benches everywhere and, sometimes, in very strange settings that look good on the picture but would be very uncomfortable in reality. A straight bench does not work well with a small round table - despite what some say on Houzz. Getting in and out is a hassle. Etc.

Here is what I posted to another thread.

"Unless you are utilizing otherwise wasted space under a window, already have an architecturally defined nook, or love reading there, a banquette bench may be not so practical. The storage space underneath is really only for rarely used items as you are not going to open a bench with a seat too often... You cannot seat more than two people comfortably - which can be achieve with chairs as well.

I have had a bench in my dining room for 10 years and trust me, I would have already gotten rid of it had it not been so expensive (still might). :-) "

I have seriously considered putting a bench in the BR as we have been remodeling the kitchen. But I want to keep my table set b/c the room could use some round stuff to off-set the linearity of cabinets, plus I like the set. And - for the above listed reasons, I think the bench wouldn't work in my small BR without windows (only a full-view glass double-patio door).

BTW, these consideration do not apply to benches under windows, real "nooks" or some other settings, as they are totally appropriate in those cases. I have seen fabulous banquettes posted here by GWers.

But as a popular trend, do you think it will pass soon?

P.S. This is just a general question, not specific to my kitchen.

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eleena, by BR, do you mean breakfast room or bedroom? I'm guessing the former, unless you like groups of people having meals and/or playing cards in your bedroom. :p

I like the look and idea of banquette benches, but only alongside windows of which you can see out.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:02PM
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Yes, breakfast room, of course. :-)

However, I cannot say that the "groups of people having meals and/or playing cards in your bedroom" thing does not happen, LOL.

I have been sick a lot since DD was born, so we did let her eat with me in the bedroom (using a rolling side table) a few times when I couldn't make it to the kitchen (like after a surgery). And playing cards and other games happens pretty often too. :-)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:40PM
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No, they're not new. I'm almost 50, and I spent the first five years of my life in a house that had a wonderful little banquette just off the kitchen. I adored that room.

It was perhaps six foot wide, and it was sort of a butler's pantry between the kitchen and the dining room. On the right were glass-front cabinets floor-to-ceiling. On the left was the built-in table: Just big enough for two people to sit on each side with benches on each side that lifted up. And a window at the far end of table. It was painted-white wood with dark seats.

I suppose it was a bit impractical in that the people on the inside, those nearest the window, could not exit easily . . . but it was used as a breakfast spot, not as a place for lengthy meals. The seats lifted up to reveal storage space, and that part was impractical. The table was built in, so it was difficult to reach the storage. Being small, that was my job.

I used to love to play under the table. It was sort of a tressle table, with one side being built into the wall, and one leg on the end near the kitchen-to-dining-room-walkway, and one board suspended between the wall and the table leg. That board was perfect for running toy cars or lining up little pebbles and acorns.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:05PM
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If you are talking about a built-in banquette. I would say no. If you are talking about a moveable piece of furniture like a shallow sofa with a higher seat used at a table, I would say yes, more popular in the last decade.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:05PM
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I don't think they're a "new fad," but I have noticed that Sarah Richardson uses them a lot. They look cute, but I suspect they look much cuter than they are actually practical. You know the person in the middle is the one who needs to get up to use the bathroom or whatever.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:16PM
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I am one of those people that dread banquette seating. I don't like booths in restaurants. I avoid them if I can.

It may save a lot of space in certain homes.

IMHO, I think that they are least practical for daily breakfast. Daily work/school day breakfast has to happen quickly and effortlessly. Banquette does not lend itself to that since getting in and out is not easy.

In our house, breakfast is a daily hot meal. I work outside of the home, and my husbands gets up slightly earlier and makes hot breakfast for everyone. We had a simplified version of huevos rancheros for breakfast today.

If we had a banquette seating where someone was stuck inside, my kids would be fighting every morning who gets to NOT sit inside.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Hmmm . . . given the choice, I'll sit in a booth at a restaurant every time. They're cozy and fun.

Perhaps this is "a test" for what we should have in our homes?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 5:07PM
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I didn't mean "new" as in "never used before". I meant "the latest fad". It is too bad we cannot edit the titles of our threads. :-(

And I mostly meant "built-in" benches that are marketed right now as "extra storage".

No, of course, they are not "new". I actually love booths in restaurants and always try to get one. It's cozy and easier to feed a child when she is right next to you. Plus, when she is done, she can play on the bench w/o disturbing others. Etc.

But not so much if it is an adult party - good luck going to restroom! :D

I saw some pix on BHG and Houzz websites as well as read some articles and feel that banquettes are being promoted as "the latest and the greatest" thing. So, I was mostly asking if the great minds here thought it was a "hot trend" right now that would pass soon.

And again, I was not talking about a space that would be wasted otherwise, like around a heater, under a window or something.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Fori is not pleased

I've never actually seen one in a home but my neighborhood is behind the times. A banquette would actually be a good thing in my current kitchen (but it would only hold 2 kids and the ends would both be open for escape).

Here is a link that might be useful: banquettes, old school.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:06PM
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Banquette benches do seem to be a bit of a resurgent style, call it a modern day fad, if you wish.

They draw my attention as I have the perfect space for one: two lateral 5' walls ending in doors allowing bypass of the main kitchen, a center window between the walls with trim at 42", and a need for chairs around the current circular table not to be in the kitchen bypass route.

So, I'm reading past threads, viewing photos and considering. I do think the banquette fad meets the need for alternative seating in select kitchens. They do take quite the planning though, to do comfortably (angled back, wider sitting area to accommodate adults, proper firmness and cleanaibility of padding, and recessed toe kicks, to name a few) and well. Mine may be done last in this kitchen/pantry remodel.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:57PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Yikes, fori! The backs of my thighs are hurting, just looking at that first pic!

As I was reading this thread, I was thinking that banquettes are not that convenient for adults, but great for corralling kids during a meal.

As there are a group of us who love the vintage style, the banquette/nook is part of that nostalgic look--it reminds us of Grandma's house. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:18PM
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Holly- Kay

Fori, I have a friend who has a lovely old home. It was probably built in the 20's that has a little breakfast nook exactly like that. It is located in a hallway that connects the dining room with the kitchen. Every time I am at her lovely home I imagine myself sitting there in the morning enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee and toast for breakfast. I wish I had a special little place like that. I have loved cozy little nooks forever and would love to have a window seat!

I too, prefer a booth to a table when we are dining out. Our favorite place is very elegant and we always ask for a seat in the cozy little booth close to the fireplace!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:25PM
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We had one when I was a kid in the 70's...there definitely was a downside to being the one in the middle. But, I love booth style seating - I'll always pick that over a chair at a restaurant. So, when it came time for us to decide what we were doing for our kitchen, I started talking banquette right away. Ours will have storage. We haven't picked a table yet, but we anticipate having a square-ish table top with more of a pedestal type base than 4 legs along the edges.

I do worry that it might be a little bit of a fad with it's resurgence. But I like them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:35PM
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Fori is not pleased

Isn't that scary, MamaGoose? That's exactly what I thought about it: OUCH.

I won't even consider those lovely MCM dining chairs that have a little bit of leg sticking up the seat. The wishbone ones? Modern knockoff courtesy of Room & Board:

Even those hurt if you sit or slide wrong!

Okay back on topic. I think a well considered banquette can be great, especially if it offers things you need that a chair can't, like storage or making a nook work or something. Their popularity seems to wax and wane but they've been around forever.

But I wouldn't build from scratch a nook that required a banquette to be useable and I wouldn't build one in most circumstances. I would build in Kitchenkelly's banquette though. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:15PM
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I am building a nook similar to the first one in Fori's link. I have an old house, so I am really wanting that nostalgic Grandma's house feel.

As far as comfort goes, I don't want the benches to be too comfortable. I want the nook to be a place for a small meal or a cozy chat. If people want comfort and space, they can go to the adjacent dining room. I want the dining room to be the prime place to eat.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:54PM
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Fori is not pleased

They are really cute, aren't they? As long as clumsy people can get in and out without bruises. :)

I'm not sure keen on the sofa style ones that are currently popular, but since they aren't screwed down, I consider them harmless.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:19AM
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