Banquette in this dining space?

funkyartOctober 8, 2012

I will be moving into my grandmother's home and updating/modernizing. I want to go with what I am going to call a clean modern cottage kind of look in the kitchen/dining area. Part of this change in my life is my desire to simplify and downsize.. however, this means giving up a true dining room. As such, I'd like the eat-in kitchen area to be stylish and inviting.

I will not be updating the kitchen in the immediate future. It is VERY much in need of a complete update/remodel, but I want to live in the space for a bit before jumping on the project. I can't wait to start on the dining space though-- as I gave my antique dining set to my nephew who just set up his first house. I am currently shopping for dining furniture.

This is the dining area. Please ignore everything but the space-- we're in the process of clearing out the house and then everything will be redone (new paint, hardwood floors, etc). The kitchen is to the left, door to the outside to the right, this area opens into the living room.

This is my inspiration photo. I've saved a number of banquet photos but this is the one that works best for my space and most captures the look I'd like.

LOVE the lighting and the feel of this space. I would like to have the built-in as in the photo but I will need to accommodate the base board heating... and whatever I do must be compatible with the kitchen remodel in a year or so (I do know I will do painted cabinets).

Do you think this design makes sense for the space? I know it isnt optimal for the only dining space in the house but this is something I've had to accept (generally, there will only be one or two dining. Large gatherings will be held outside). As I said, I'd prefer the built in bench with storage but given that the kitchen remodel won't begin for awhile, do you think I should go with a bench or church pew instead?

All thoughts welcome! Do you like your banquette seating? Is there something I should consider before making my primary dining space a banquette?

My carpenter is doing some other work for me at the end of the month.. so I'd like to include this with his work if I am settled on a built-in bench.

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I love your idea of the banquette but I don't see how you are going to get around the baseboard heating unless you can move it or do without it. Maybe you can wait until you do a complete kitchen remodel and move the baseboard heating at that time. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:57AM
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Since this will be your only eating space how many would you need to seat? Your inspiration photo can only accommodate one on the banquette while actually eating. Maybe the table opens up.. If you need more seating a corner unit with seating along both walls could potentially seat 6-8. We turned a two person eat in kitchen into one that worked easily for 6 with a set up tressel table and nook benches. If you left the legs open you would solve the base board heating issue.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:24AM
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Good morning-- and thanks for your feedback!

Cam - I am told that heating can be rerouted to come out the base of the built in. I dont know how big a job that is though. I *really* don't want to wait.. as I will need to purchase something to go in the space.

Arcy - typically 1-2 will dine there but I think I'd like to be able to serve 4. This is a big change but the house just isnt big enough to host my family (21 total) inside the house. The most I can see seating is 4. While this is my inspiration photo, I don't necessarily need to take it literally. I could imagine a larger table.. and more chairs but I want to keep the open/airy feel. I would also consider a rectangular table but I love how a round table softens the space.

I was sticking with just the back bench because it feels less claustrophobic. Would an L bench add more seating than an additional chair? I'll have to go back to the photo galleries and give the L shape a little more thought.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:42AM
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My vote is to wait until you are ready to do the kitchen. Or, I would get my kitchen plan now in place and see how this seating could actually work.Then, you would be doing the reno in stages with an actuall plan. You might get some other options as well.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think moving the heat will be a fairly big issue....not that it can't be done, but will require some plumbing and carpentry and flooring involvement.

I love the idea of a banquette in that, when you have a small space, built-ins are a huge space saver. I like the mood of the inspiration pick a lot...the light, the bright, warm yet modern. I think you would be better served with an L though as that will allow you to shove the table all the way in if it's only 2 of you, but pull it out as necessary to fit people in and around. Also you will have seating along 2 lengths of table built in, vs this one which is only practically seating for one. Just be sure your table is centrally supported and not with corner legs as then people won't be able to skootch around the table legs.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:09AM
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I would buy or build a bench that you can scoot under the table when not in use. DH built us one when the kids were home, painted it a creamy white, and it would sit 3 people. My DR is similar to your's.

Now the bench is in the entryway. A bench would take care of your problem for now, and look nice at the same time until you decide on something else.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:31AM
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I like yur inspirational picture! Moving the heat... moving forced hot air is not a big deal, but moving electric heating would be a bit challenging!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:50AM
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Annie, I hear you on the effort involved for the heater-- and I'll have to address this in the kitchen when it's remodeled too as I'll be adding a row of cabinets on a wall that currently has baseboard heat.

I supposed I could use a temporary bench or settee-- until I begin the kitchen remodel--or go with a built-in design that has feet. I was just really hoping to be able to get this room done ahead of that because 1) I'll need the storage, 2) the room is very visible from the living room 3) I'll be suffering in misery in the very outdated and poorly designed kitchen-- so having a finished dining space would placate me for awhile.

Either way, knowing that this is the direction I want to go will let me shop for a table and chairs. No reason I can't use chairs until I have the built-in completed. I think I remember someone here getting a short PB love seat to use with a pedestal table (Sueb, perhaps?). It's not quite the look I was imagining but perhaps that's the mid-term compromise.

I really wanted to do something more formal in here since it is the only dining space but knowing what I have in my mind for the kitchen, this seems to be the best approach-- and I do love the look. I want to sit there with my coffee right now!

Would any of you be willing to share photos of your breakfast nooks/banquettes?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Love dining nooks -- but this is a vote to "test" out the area by finding or building a long white-painted bench plus table/chairs -- until you can find out about the heat vent issues ..

The best part of creating a true dining nook is the storage provided by the bench seating! :)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:17AM
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I love your inspiration picture but I don't think you will want the baseboard moved to the front of a seating space. It would get too hot against the legs of anyone sitting on the bench. There are toekick forced air heaters that have a much smaller outlet register than the length of a baseboard. You might be able to put one in that could be at one of the ends of the banquette where someone would be less likely to be sitting. Or perhaps you could eliminate the long baseboard and just have a shorter one on the other wall. That looks like a LOT of baseboard for that small space.

Here is a link that might be useful: toe kick heaters

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I have never been fond of banquette seating in a small dining room.....hard for people to get out. I can see a glass top table in that space...if you want a square table, put a light bench on one side and two chairs on the other side. A round glass top table would look so pretty with the light shining through the windows.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:01PM
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Want to add....I once used a glass patio table in my dining room until I finished with a remodel....then the table went out on the patio. Something like that might work for you.....Just an idea.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:03PM
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This is a nook - not a dining room - right? Your inspiration pic reminds me of our breakfast nook. We have a table and chairs in front of the window (round table)in front of where the large window butts out (like in your pic). With walls on each end of the window. There is room for the table to be moved out and a window seat put in. You can sometimes use a bank of base cabinets - if the spacing is right instead of having to custom build. We've thought of doing that. That would be a great storage area.

In your "nook" - is that a cabinet to the one side? You'd have to work around that. And I'm just not sure about the heat. Would you be able to disconnect the heating in that room? Kitchens are normally pretty warm and it might be possible to do away with the heat - perhaps even use a ceramic heater as a temporary measure until you do the big remodel.

Love the look. I'm getting ready to update the hardware and lights in our kitchen and nook, and like that drum light. Hmmmm, something to think about!


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Thanks for the continued thoughts and ideas!

Oly, I did think about just closing off the heater along that wall also. There's one in the kitchen immediately to the right and also one on the right wall. I did see that the toe kick heaters often have on/off switches (or rather high, med, low) so that seemed convenient. This room does have a door to the outside and is under the bank of windows (which need to be but won't be replaced immediately) so I am a little concerned about just taking away a heat source. That said, it's a small house (1200 sq ft) so what's one little heater? I will consult the carpenter/handyman, but I'd be ok with built-ins with feet/legs-- I'll lose some storage but I guess that's preferable to losing heat. I will need to address this eventually in the kitchen as I plan to add cabinets to a wall that currently has the only baseboard hear in the kitchen.

Grandmaof3 - I could use a stand alone set-- and may very well do that for awhile if I have to wait for the kitchen remodel. It's just such a sad small dining space that I thought the built in back made it look much more inviting and cozy than a lone table and chairs. I admit that I imagine scunching up on the back bench with my laptop or a book... so the prospect of creating that cozy and inviting space in my mind made losing a real dining room ok with me. That said, I love glass top tables-- I just havent found THE ONE that takes my breath away.

Tinam - Hi, there old friend! Yes, this is a nook-- but also the only dining space so I do want it to have a bit of style vibe-- especially since it is fully visible to the LR. Funny that you mention prebuilt cabinets. The ones pictured are ikea cabs that are raised just a bit for airflow. The storage would be very valuable so I'd definitely like to go that route if it makes sense.

You have a keen eye-- yes, there is a cab to the left but it will be removed with the kitchen remodel. I wouldnt have an issue blocking it off as it is pretty awkward there.

I love the light too-- i think it is part of what makes it look like a real space and it has a look I'd like to carry through the home. It's casual but has that little bump of modern elegance and style.

I am really torn here.. because so much of the house must be redone, I want to jump on those that would be fairly easy to complete... and yet, I dont want to make costly missteps either.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:27PM
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I really like the look of your inspiration photo and would prefer that look rather than doing an L shaped seat, but that's just my personal preference. If you got a round pedestal table with a leaf or two, you could add them when you had company and the table would just come out into the room more to allow for extra seating.

My main concern about doing it now rather than later is that wall on the left as you enter the kitchen. Are you planning on doing the same thing to the entryway into the kitchen by framing out that wall? It looks nice. You do need something on the bottom to frame in your window seat. I suppose in the meantime you'll just be using the exiting base cabinet to lean your pillows against? I guess my question is, where will you be stopping the upper and lower cabinets when you do the kitchen over?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Chickadee, I've thought about that too and looked at thousands of built-in and banquette photos.. as well as thought through the kitchen design at a high level. I'Tlike to frame out the wall as in the inspiration photo but not create any stronger division. The kitchen currently has an L counter (open underneath) along the dining space which I'll remove (we've actually talked about cutting it off now, in advance of the kitchen remodel).

Obviously the key to making this design work nicely in my space will be how it coordinates with the kitchen-- I am not concerned as much about paint finish etc as how it physically and visually joins the space.

I guess that makes me plan clear-- I need to wait and do the built in as part of the kitchen remodel. I was so hoping I could do this piece in advance but I realize now that it could complicate the future remodel-- what if i get a steal on cabinets in a different style? what if .. what if.

I am disappointed but I know you've all recommended waiting because it's the right thing to do. I will still talk to my carpenter and get his feedback but I am coming to terms with the need to wait. I am going to look into an upholstered settee to use -- then move elsewhere when I add the built in.

I'd still love to see your nook/banquettes.. and especially, upholstered dining benches.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Is that a double window behind those curtains? In your inspiration pic the window seat is centered on the window and you'd probably want to do the same. How much space do you have from the end of the window to the outside wall? I was thinking if you allowed for the same amount of space on the left, you might be able to extend the wall out from the kitchen on both sides of the entryway. You'd lose some inches in the dining area but gain it in the kitchen. I just like how when you look head on in the inspiration pic, you don't see cabinets hanging in the kitchen. You could even do a pocket door if you wanted and close the kitchen off completely when you entertained. You'd have to do some measuring to see if moving walls is feasible with the chair placements and traffic flow.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:49AM
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Hmm.. excellent point, chickadee. The windows actually go right to the edge of the outside wall. Same on both sides. And you are right, that's a key element of the inspiration room. Now I am second guessing my plan. It may be that an L will look best.. but I really prefer not to go that direction. It's just a different look and not what I am going for.

I hate to steal kitchen space from the dining area, but there isnt room for anything but a table and chairs so it may not be that big of a deal.

I'll take photos again when we have the furniture and carpet out (hopefully later this week). Then I can play with some looks and floor plans for the kitchen and the nook.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:04AM
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The nook seating worked for us when we had little space and little children. We also used vinyl covered seat cushions. Children and vinyl worked well for all the scooting in and out in this sort of configuration. As my children became teens we found it to be too cumbersome, as mentioned above, for daily use. If one-four people will be the bulk of the use I say it is still a good option. The scooting will be minimal--no one "in the middle". It is a different esthetic and your inspiration room has a different vibe so I can see how it might not fit into your vision. I just have trouble seeing past the practical and if I were standing in that room I would be confused by the large bench and little table. I suppose I do not understand the round table either. It is a confusing message IMHO. I am not saying don't do it..I am just saying it needs tweaking.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:08AM
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Arcy, i get what you are saying. I understand the look is a touch awkward for some but I kind of like the dissonance of the long bench and the round table. I really like that it invites lounging as much as it will be functional for dining. The house is small so having a quiet sitting area is attractive to me-- especially near the kitchen. I have already claimed it as "my space" (while the bf is much more interested in the plans for the basement remodel).

While I may serve another couple from time to time, it will usually be just my bf and I. There's no way I could serve my family in this space-- or easily accommodate them as a group inside my home (at least not until the basement is completed). The house will definitely a cozy place for two. That is part of the goal in downsizing-- a manageable size for a middle-aged single gal (who may bring in her bf).

That said, I am not opposed to an oval or rectangle table in theory. The space is small though, and I don't want to cramp the style or the space by using a table that is too big. I do have two rectangular tables I can try in the space but I am not optimistic. I am also not keen on adding more right angles (this is a 1960s ranch house-- it has tons of right angles).

I am definitely going to think through all the options. Until I find a table I love, everything is on the table. I have been known to change my mind ha.. so far, the only table I've found is wayyyyy out of budget and while round, is not at all like the inspiration photo. I'll continue my search!

Here is a link that might be useful: A different direction for a table

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:30AM
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I had a narrow dining space and wanted a banquette (I love them as well as it being very useful in this situation), but I had a similar issue with the heating vent being where I needed the banquette to be. I found an old oak bench with a tall back in an antique store, it was nearly 9 feet long and it had come out of a former Mason lodge. I added throw cushions and paired it with a 70's teak table and chairs, and it was seating always in demand by my guests. My new house is a tiny 1919 apartment with built-in buffets so there is no room for a new banquette, alas :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:00PM
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We are remodeling a home with a similar situation. We are replacing the two windows with a box bay window. It will have a window seat. The space below the window won't be affected and we can make good use of the narrow dining space. I have noticed that we always request a booth when entering a restaurant so I think we will enjoy this space. Maybe this idea could work for you.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:45AM
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