Banquettes and Built In Benches

Do you love breakfast? How about brunch? We woke up this morning (it’s Sunday) thinking about both. A newspaper, a hot cup of coffee, family chatter, pets underfoot. Brunch’s lazy drawn out prep, a mimosa maybe, and the radio playing. Everyone loves to be in the kitchen, hanging around the counter, with the food and ritual front and center. Time stops but the world is full, an oasis of family and good friends. If only we had a breakfast nook. We could pile in right here, and get down to business! So today’s post is a little ode to banquettes, those lovely, cozy, space saving inventions.

custom built in bench 2

Dan Mosheim, Dorset Custom Furniture. Above, a classy built in banquette bench, painted white with cushions by local upholsterer, Isaiah McCauliffe. “The carpenters will cut the baseboard and fit the bench top to the wall to complete the project,” Dan told us. Below, also from DCF, a custom curved bench to fit carefully in a dramatic space. The guys first created a framework for the bench seat to rest on. “It has a slight angle for comfort (about 1.5 degrees) and the back is angled at 8 degrees from the seat face. It’s surprisingly comfortable,” he remarked, “even without cushions.” Gorgeous and inventive, too.

Swoon-worthy below, from Paul Zenaty. Another custom designed curved banquette, this one ith an accompanying poplar and maple table. The banquette holds deep drawer storage (such a plus!) with a conversion varnish finish (think bar tops) for longevity. Seats six, love it!

In contrast to the pedestal and curved banquette above, Zenaty’s also included a casual art deco installation. In poplar and maple, it serves a family of five everyday but seats seven when the family enjoys company and friends! Design details include the funky reversible cushions, drawers tucked in below and hidden heaters that warm the seats from behind. But Paul tells us the geometry is carefully calibrated for comfort first… “My customers tell me they prefer to eat here because the seats are so comfortable, even after an evening of food and playing games.”

Contemporary Built in Banquette from Paul Zenaty

The hallmarks of Pete Novick’s portfolio are proportion, balance and simplicity, with sustainably sourced woods in a clear, straightforward finish. A master of tansu and japanese joinery. His cherry banquette below includes seating and table.

cherry banquette novick

The table is seven feet long and can be disassembled. The benches offer ample storage under the seats and are joined at the corner. Shown with leather seat cushions. The table seats eight people comfortably.

A freestanding bench can serve a similar purpose if you like a lighter look with the ability to adjust in the future. Love the set up below from Middlebury craftsman Tim Clark.

Tim C Banquette Bench

Pictured here, the Blue Duck Tavern at Washington DC’s Park Hyatt Hotel, where you can chin up to a meal by way of Tim Clark’s custom settee. Designer Tony Chi sought Tim’s studio skills, commissioning a 29′ Windsor seating piece that would enhance the classic American atmosphere of the farm to table, fine dining restaurant. You can imagine one of these in a traditional home, on a smaller scale of course. You can flip the layout and put a built in against the wall and one of Tim’s benches in place of your kitchen chairs. Cool.

And lastly, one more from the Dorset Custom Furniture archive. Dan and Co. created a painted, built in banquette with cushions and the corresponding breakfast table; 8/4 cherry with small bevels and rounded corners and a welded “X” shaped metal base. Ideas, ideas, ideas….

Better Homes and Gardens calls these banquettes “the benchmark of kitchen furniture,” whether built in or free standing; curved, straight, compact or cushioned. If you click the link above to check out their slideshow, you’ll find seating solutions for kitchens, dining rooms and even open floor plans. Focal points include square, rectangular and round tables. And banquettes along windows, with open shelving or under-seat storage. Lots of ideas, varying design styles.

So if this is an Aha! moment and you want to make one of these cozy spaces in your kitchen, talk to one of our furniture makers. They can create something gorgeous, furniture quality, with all the fancy features you need to make a multi-functional space. And on to brunch. Enjoy the day!

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2 thoughts on “Banquettes and Built In Benches

    1. Kate Pace Post author

      Nice to see you’re keeping up with the blog from across the pond, Richard! Are you enjoying the French countryside?


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