Ode To Banquettes and Breakfast Nooks

dilly_nyOctober 27, 2011

I have been looking at alot of pictures of breakfast nooks and banquettes for our new kitchen. I thought I would share some pics for others who are considering this design. If you have a banquette or nook or inspiration pic, please post.

Symmetrical Designs:

With Windows:

Without Windows:

U shaped design:

L Shaped Design:

Single Bench Design:

Here is a link that might be useful: More Photbucket Nooks & banquettes

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Dilly, how big is your nook area? My nook is 5'6"x5'9" and it is impossible to find anything that will fit in their a be comfortable for seating. I found something that will fit online, but I'm not sure about the quality etc. not being able to see/touch it in person.

Everyone, who sees the area/space tells me to add a door to create a walk in pantry. I would love to have a walk in pantry, but having a space to eat w/o going to the dining room would be nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hip Looking Nook

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 5:55PM
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Dilly- Any pictures with a banquette on one side, with three windows above it...maybe a nice arbor outside, with climbing roses hanging down, in front of the windows? I'm having a tough time finding that anywhere, but in my imagination :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 6:03PM
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Here's one of my faves. Lavender-- its not a rose-covered arbor, but you could imagine it. And, this one is even in our state!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 6:37PM
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    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 8:56PM
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This is one of my favs...

Here are some others...sorry if I posted any repeats...

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:06PM
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not sure if these are up here yet...they are all starting to look a like right now...lol!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:14PM
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Milehighdiva - I did not post my current banquette which is in a 4x5 space with a wall mounted ikea table. Since I have a radiator against the back wall, I did not put my bench along the 5' wall which would have worked better. I think in a small space, a single bench design works best, especially if two people can sit on the bench and exit from opposite sides so you avaoid entrapment.

I am planning to do a cantilever type of construction for my new kitchen so I will have a larger eating area. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 10:07PM
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Dilly, thank you for the response! I will have to re evaluate what I was considering, because I didn't think of entrapment, until you mentioned it in your post.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 11:25PM
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I'm obsessed with banquettes right now. Debating whether to put one in our combination kitchen/dining as it would buy us more space. What do people think of having a banquette for your ONLY dining space? We do not have a large/formal home so I think it would work for us - but I worry about resale eventually....

Here are a few more to peruse:

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 11:44PM
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What do people think of having a banquette for your ONLY dining space? We do not have a large/formal home so I think it would work for us - but I worry about resale eventually....

It would be a strong deterrent to me. I don't like banquettes one bit.

I have spent a lot of time in "dinettes" in pop up camper and travel trailers. Some like a booth, others U-shaped more like a banquette. My grandparent's kitchen table is square with benches around it pushed up into a corner creating the same effect as some banquettes. A local restaurant we go to has a few tables with similar seating to some of the pictures above.

I just hate them. I don't like having to slide over to my seat. I don't like not being able to easily go and come from my seat (bathroom, drink refill, etc.). I find them hard to clean sometimes without moving the table out. Most of the ones I have been in have either been uncomfortable with no back support or incorrectly spaced back support, or have been riddled in fabrics and pillows that although pretty at first, end up dirty and greasy.

I know several on here love them, or at least love the idea of them. A few who I expect to try to work a banquette into each layout suggestions. But, personally, I find them a PITA and would run the other way unless the place was big enough that it was for looks only and would never be used for dining.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 10:40AM
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Domino- I think a banquette would work best, especially for resale, if it really matches the style of your kitchen/home...and it's only a banquette on one side. This gives everyone, who doesn't want to sit on the banquette, the option of a chair. Maybe banquette on one side, chair on each end and another couple of chairs, opposite the banquette. If it's not your only dining area, then a corner banquette is also a good choice. It's also important to have a comfortable banquette. As mentioned above, a hard seat or too many pillows...and you end up feeling like Goldilocks :)

If it's well made, easy to clean, comfortable and easy to access, I think a banquette would work well, in your space. And, if this option gives you a bigger, better functioning kitchen...that's a big plus for resale, too.

Of course, like all popular choices, banquettes will look dated in a few years, especially if they don't really fit the look of the house or kitchen space. Is your kitchen contemporary...then make sure the banquette matches that look. If you have a country/farmhouse/cottage look, then IMHO a banquette never really goes out of style. Same thing with a craftsman home...anything that has built-ins through out is going to look at home with another well made built-in. Hope that helps :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 11:59AM
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I was all set on a banquette, but then I came across a swedish bench i loved.

I decided to put the cabinets on either side of my breakfast room, but not to build in. I did not need extra storage space underneath, so that was not a consideration.

I just wasn't sure if I wanted to do a built in where i didnt have to, or if I might prefer more flexibility. Visually, a banquette can read like one large mass and I like airier space. I also thought that it might be a little ... dont shoot me ... trendy.

My 2 cents

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 12:52PM
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i love banquettes and plan to do one in my new kitchen. i am not sure i want to do a built-in though, i think a nice upholstered bench or sofa would work too, though the seat storage is definitely a plus for built-in. here are some i collected.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 1:15PM
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I agree with aa62579. I hate them! For all the reasons mentioned. Some of them are gorgeous, but in actual use I think very uncomfortable. They just make me feel claustrophobic and I really hate being stuck in the center and having to make everyone else move if I need to get up for something! They are really inconvenient in my view!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:58PM
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Now, see...if there's only two people on the banquette, there is no center. Each person can easily get in and out. I think the claustrophic feel comes from corner booths, which look great, but seat too many people. The exception would be little breakfast nooks, which usually seat two adults or maybe three kids.

Breezy- Thanks for the picture! Sorry, I missed it earlier. I'm still trying to find something similar to what I want to do :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 9:14PM
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I'm planning to do a banquette as in my main dining area. I have a townhouse, so there isn't much room, and having built-in seating gives me more options for storage. I'll have banquette seating on two sides.

For me, the advantage is that I can squeeze more people in whenever I need to. I won't necessarily have a dozen people over for dinner often, but for those occassions when I do want 10-12 people, I can accommodate everyone. My table will probably be about 100 in. long, and having a lot of chairs would really make the kitchen look cluttered. A banquette is a more streamlined look. Plus, would hate moving all the chairs to sweep. Without a banquette, my dining room would look silly with a large dining table.

I'm not particulalry worried about re-sale since I'm planning on being in the house for at least 10 years. Since I'm in a townhouse, most anyone who would consider buying my home in the future would probably understand the space constraints in townhouse or condo. If a realtor really advised against it when I was selling, I could always pull out the banquette and then stage the dining room with a more traditional look.

For me, however, the banquette is a flexible option to keep the house looking less cluttered, allowing more space for storage, and providing more space for entertaining.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 3:30PM
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Interesting, I never considered a banquette to be trendy. I don't see them in real homes too often.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Here's a company that sells benches with optional fabrics.


Here is a link that might be useful: ballard designs

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 4:33PM
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We have to sit at a banquette on a boat whether we like it or not. Because we are forced to sit in one. It is extremely tight in our little sailboatl. I have come to despise them for normal homes. But alas, this is my bias.

They can look lovely. I mostly see them in older homes where they have created an eat-in kitchens with a banquette. This was a space saving technique. I rarely see them in newer spacious homes. In my mind, they always look as if they were created to save space....

If you are trying to save space, they can look great and give you seating and storgage. Just a different perspective. I agree that it gives me a claustrophic feeling.

Regarding the drawing provided by the OP, if I had the space, I would rather have the built in window seat (as shown) where someone can sit to read and enjoy the light plus a regular table in the DR/family room. In most homes, this would not be feasible because of the space constraints.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 8:05PM
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We are also planning on having one as our only dining area (aside from the kitchen peninsula). Our architect seemed hesitant, asking "have you ever lived with one?" Well, no, but as long as it is a comfortable design (a crucial detail), I think it will be fine. We're planning on an L-shape, but that means there will be chairs in an L as well, and with only 2 of us living there, we'll have the choice as to where to sit.

I know what you mean about getting trapped in a restaurant, though-- but I'm thinking it will be rare to have 6 people at dinner and there's a lot you can tolerate for short times that would not be fun everyday. But the comfort factor is important. I would also not like to sit on a hard bench or a backless bench, though I see them in photos all the time.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 12:07AM
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We are doing a bumped out banquette/window seat in between two hutches as part of our dining area in our kitchen/dining area. I'm bookmarking this post!

Here are some I've saved for our future reference:

Tory Burch's in the background:

This is cabinetry but I can imagine a banquette between these hutches:

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 12:44AM
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Now y'all got me wanting to design in a small banquette at the Florida nest...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Wow! Some great pics for ideas and inspiration. I think a banquette is a space saving idea, but in a small home, I think that's a good thing.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 10:40AM
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I have noticed how many of the photos of banquettes include throw pillows. I understand how these enhance the color patterns in the kitchen design but how practical are they really? How often do they need to be removed in order to allow seating? Do sitters need them? How much of the time are they actually used? How often do they hit the floor or are just in the way?

Additionally, if you have windows that extend to the window seat itself, how tempted are you to lean back onto the glass?

We're contemplating a window seat in another room and the practical part of me is unsure as to whether this will be an actual usable thing or just a pretty thing.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 11:25AM
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I love these!
Have any of you looked through the Not So Big House/Remodel book series? Many beautiful pics of banquettes, and text discussing how to make them functional in smaller spaces. Sarah Suskana.

Thanks for the photos!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 2:11PM
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I think they are trendy at a designer level. Candace Olson featured some in her latest book, and I have seen some of these photos before. I am not sure they are trendy in real life.

Banquettes do lock you into a room configuration--but so does getting rid of your table and having only island seating, which people are doing too. A question of what you want.

Here is a link that might be useful: Candace Olson Kitchens and Baths

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 2:08AM
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florantha - I had some of the same ?s re: the pillows/cushions. Needing the cushions depends on the height of the seat. Some people do a 14"-15" with a 3-4" cushion. In that case, I would think it would be needed bc the seat itself is low. But, the thick cushion is nice to sit on. You can do an angeled seat so it doesn't slip off. Or, you can do a trim around the end of the exterior side, too. I've also heard people doing velcro under the seat to help it stick, too...but not sure that's my preference. If you do a a seat that's over 16" high, I would think the cushion would be thinner, thus not really required.

As for the back window, the seat back needs to be angled/raised high enough so you don't end up with a window sill in your back (at least thats my opinion)

Here's the design for ours...we designed it for 2 people on the bench (could squeeze 3 if ever needed), and then room to get in/out on the ends if someone is sitting there. It's about 11 1/2" wide.

3D version

Someone posted these awhile ago (can't remember who, sorry!) But I saved them as some guidelines to start with...

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 7:57AM
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Circus Peanut

A couple of thoughts:

As a sometime upholsterer, I strongly recommend a banquette seat that is actually sprung, not just upholstered with a foam cushion on hard surface. Springs (either coil or zigzag) give it both the comfort and stiffer resilience that you want in a seat where you'll be eating. (Also this makes it much easier to get in and out of - check out a nice restaurant banquette seat some time to see what I mean.)

And make sure that the seat top is slightly higher than a normal upholstered sofa seat would be.

If you can't commit, use a firm sofa there for a while to see what you think before committing. We can't afford to build our dream banquette in the breakfast nook yet, so I did up an old sofa (firmer springs, higher) for the meantime. We really love it.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Florantha - I love the look of the windows going low, almost to the bench height, but I think I am going to get windows that extend down only to the tabletop so that the windows will be higher than the waist for those seated on the bench. Also, I plan to order tempered glass as a precaution since it will likely be the children's spot.

Baltra - Coincidently, before seeing your post, I took the "Not So Big House" book out of the library. I haven't looked at it yet, but I will tonight. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 11:16AM
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Dilly- Good point about the glass! I think you'll like the book...lots of good ideas about using space efficiently and the importance of diagonal site lines :)

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 12:43PM
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I really don't like going to a restaurant where one person is on a banquette and the other is in a chair. You're never at the same height. Also, I find that most banquettes are L-shaped and offer no lower back support as a chair does -- at least a good chair. I grew up in a house with a breakfast nook. The kids invariably had to be the first ones in. However, we were also the first to finish and would have to slide onto the floor and crawl over the adults' toes to get out.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 3:55PM
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We have loose pillows on our banquette, but they are actually lumbar pillows, so they serve a purpose besides looking pretty.

We are enjoying our banquette. We just have a bench seat (111"x 22.5")--no L, and we are only a family of four. It is only when we have guests that there are two (or more) on the bench seat.

What I really love about it is the unbelievable amount of storage there is. We have deep draws in ours. Love them!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:55PM
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I LOVE our banquette. We built an L-shaped banquette because we didn't have enough space to use chairs all around the table.

Our banquette is up against walls, no windows. But besides the fact that it fits a bunch of kids, it is so nice to grab a cup of coffee, lean back and stretch your legs out on the cushion. It's just a really cozy spot. I don't feel claustrophobic at all.

We built it so that it could accommodate a 4" thick seat cushion and be the same seat height as the dining chair seat height.

The table that you use will also affect how comfortable or claustrophobic it feels to sit on the banquette. At first we were using an old table that had legs in the corners - not good. Once you got "in", you didn't really want to get out. A round pedastal table has made all the difference in the world.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 7:22PM
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We're almost finished w/the kitchen nook we've made for our kitchen remodel. We've tried to restore the kitchen more to 1920-30's era. House is 1918. We took out island from prior owner remodel because there just wasn't space for it w/more than one cook. It was a nice place for visitors to hang out at though even though there was no seating at the island. So, we put in a traditional nook in a corner of the kitchen, but still facing the cooks. My husband built the bench and it has storage underneath for his books and supplies for grading papers. We bough 2 18 inch tall stools for the other side, so they can be slipped underneath the table when not in use. People on the stools would have their backs to the kitchen. Also needed stools because large radiator on that side wouldn't allow another booth bench.

We also built becasue we thought it would be easier to clean around than a small table with four chairs. The table we built is just attached to the wall on one side and just had one leg coming down on the other.

We kept the bench not-too-deep and not too high off the ground because I'm short and rarely fit most chairs well, but my 5 10 husband is fine in the bench too. We did not want anything upholstered in there, just nice shiny paint for sliding in and out of the bench. Don't need extra things to clean.

Was worried about whether anyone would be drawn to the space. So far my husband enjoys reading the morning paper or grading there and my 10 yr old son does better remembering to eat his breakfast when he's sitting at the bench where it is harder to just jump up! So, we did the nook for the era of the house, but also storge, ease of cleaning and a space to hang out while others cook.

We also have a large built in window seat original to the house in the dining room. Used to use it as the changing area when my kids were babies. Unfortunately now, it often gets piled w/papers that we're not quite sure where to put, or projects taken off the dining room table. We do use it when we have lots of guests because we can push the dining room table up to it for lots of extra seatingn on that side. We hope to make better use of it after we finish w/kitchen remodel.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 8:39AM
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Just found this picture. Kinda different:

Source: houzz.com via Jean on Pinterest

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:16PM
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I see this is an old post, but since it got bumped up, I thought I'd share mine (I'm actually sharing my own pic from Houzz because it's easier than finding it on my computer!)

We've done a lot of renovations to our house (including ripping the top off and putting it back on higher) but this is still one of my favorite changes. Before there was a 42-inch round table in that space that always stuck in front of the back door. I designed the banquette and had it built. A local upholsterer made the cushions and my very helpful mom made the pillows. The banquette has sliding doors for storage (I have to crawl under the table to get to them, but that's ok) and a "morgue drawer" on the end that we keep all the dog stuff in.

And you'll be happy to know that after almost three years, I FINALLY found the right art for that wall and it should be arriving this week.

Eclectic Kitchen design

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:44AM
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Great thread!! Thanks for posting so many inspirational ptotos. I love a banquette but it's got to be comfy with great back support; something I can sit in for a long time. A childhood friend had one in her kitchen and many an hour was spent chatting around that table with my preteen girlfriends.

I would love to have one in my remodeled kitchen. I have a kitchen dining nook with 3 angled windows similar to some of the earlier pictures posted in this thread and having the visual is very helpful. I think it could save some space and add a little design pizazz to my small kitchen. I too don't like haing to climb over other people to get in or out, but I think that's more of a problem with half circle booths, a table that is too large or if the plan is to squeeze in too many people.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Do you have a source for the 4th image in your original post? The awning stripe booth with the 3 windows, chandelier, and 2 chairs? It looks too cramped for my taste, but the banquette looks comfy and the space looks similar to mine.

Looks like the back of the banquette extends above the windows. Do you guys think that looks OK?

That's how mine would be unless I go with an uncomfortable backless banquette (NO!) or shorten my windows, but I'm afraid shorter windows there would look weird (especially outside)with all the other windows that match in size.

Opinions? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:19PM
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Island - sorry, I do not recall the source of the photo. I think I would prefer loose pillows as opposed to the banquette covering the windows as in photo # 4, but I guess its personal preference.

Good luck! One year later and I am still pondering how to build mine and referring to this thread.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 8:42AM
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