The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Blogging For Kitchens | Main | 2008 Kitchen Trends - Lighting »

2008 Kitchen Trends - Banquettes

thin%20cushion%20banquette089.jpgThe next trend to talk about, for kitchens in 2008, as identified by Better Homes & Gardens,  in a trend report, sent to kitchen and bath designers, is the banquette. BH&G says they can accommodate a varying amount of people, they allow increased room for the dining area in the space, and create an intimate feeling in the space. They also site the ability for storage in the cabinetry configuration as a real plus. Image by BH&G.

My Take: I do agree. I've been doing more banquettes than ever! That said, my clients have wanted banquettes more frequently as a result of a simple idea I had for a "better banquette" This "better banquette" concept makes so much sense, yet, I hardly ever see it done.

First, let's give the old banquette with the 2" cushion a proper funeral, perhaps a joyous, and respectful, jazz funeral, as it's had a real long run in the world of built in (uncomfortable) seating! R.I.P.

The better banquette, taking its place, is about comfort!

Start with a much shorter cabinet height, approximately 14-15" or so. Typically, a standard cabinet height for a banquette is 18" high. Then, you have a 2" cushion. Out with the 2" cushion! What is far better is a 4-5" cushion. Make the cushions like a sofa cushion....comfortable, yet supportive. The word I use repeatedly is "cushy."

banquette.jpgA much thicker cushion will dramatically improve your, your family's and your guests' experiences and enjoyment at the dining table. Not only that, but, a thick, comfy, cushion will be a magnet for everyone to sit at, not the last choice. You'll want to prop up a pillow behind you with a laptop, pick up your feet and stretch out. It will become a first rate comfort zone. Your family and guests will linger and will be much more relaxed. I would like to have made the cushion in the image another inch thick, had I ordered it, but it's much better than the typical cushion.

I cannot advise you on what should go into the cushion, I'd love to have an interior designer stop by and shed some light on that. I only know that comfort trumps an uncomfortable seating area by miles!

Other than that, you can fit more people into banquettes when you need to. That's real versatility. Space in the room is clearly saved, often, an important factor. Storage is a plus, but should not be the driving force to design a banquette. And, banquettes look great in general...I love the "built-in" look. It makes a dining area have more importance, more architectural interest, in the right situations. Lots of great decorative opportunities.

IS it a trend? It may be, but I don't see it as a trend which may (ever, really) go "out." It's a fresh idea that can work well aesthetically and functionally in the home, thus, to me, it is less of a trend than a good idea in many situations. I wouldn't worry about this being "trendy." I don't see that...in the negative way.

For me, it's really all about putting my feet up and hanging out for a bit in the kitchen. Think comfort!

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Reader Comments (35)

I so love a great banquette, and glad to see they are making a comeback. We had one as a child, it was awesome and I felt so secure and protected sitting inside the circle. One note to add, if it's built-in with a back (like a paneled back) I suggest angling the back board slightly for comfort. It's nice to be able to sit back, relax and not feel like a Puritan in Sunday School.

January 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

Hi Michele, thanks for stopping by. What an interesting memory about the banquette, I like that. And, interesting insight on the back. Pillows really help. If the back has to be straight, a deeper than normal seat would help, again, with pillows sloped as desired. :)

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I love the idea of adding a banquette in our kitchen. Will we be comfortable If we use (2) 36x15 cabinets with a depth of 12 inches? Of course we'll add a base to achieve the height you suggest.

January 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKamil

I assume you mean 36" wide x 15" high and 12" deep (front to back.) 12" is much too narrow. You need a minimum of 18" in depth, probably a little more. Measure the depth of some chairs in your home to get a general idea of depth. I hope that helps!

January 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

We on the West coast never stopped doing banquettes. I always have to make sure I keep track of those guys that do the upholstery so I can provide the contact information to the next client who asks for one.

An upholstered back and cushion is sooo much easier to slide over on than loose cusions and pillows.

I always assume a 24" depth with upholstery, and use a short, about 14" high, drawer under them so you don't have to lift the seat to access the storage.

A banquette done this way actually takes MORE room than chairs or a bench, but it is so cozy and comfy.


January 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Deras, CKD, CID

Hi Peggy, Happy New Year. Yes, absolutely, an upholstered back is a good thing, which affects front to back depth measurements.

To clarify, it may take more room, depending on the back upholstery and bench depth overall, but still trumps the space needs of a chair to table every time, a good thing in many circumstances.

January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

As a designer, I would suggest starting with a cushion core made of a thick foam (4-5 inches). Then wrap it in a down covering, followed by the fabric. Your upholsterer should be able to provide the cushion and down wrap and ensure that upholstered cover will fit accordingly. To add extra comfort, throw a few down filled pillows on the banquet. Voila! This will create the most cushy cushion you have ever sat on. Oh la la!

January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterL.Alden

Now, THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! Sounds like my favorite word "cushy!" I'm not an upholstery specifier, so this is very, very helpful.

January 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I am trying to find a pattern that my husband can use to build a banquette for my kitchen that we are remoldeling...Does anyone have an ideas where I can find one to help him?
Thanks for your help,
L Jenkins

February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterL Jenkins

The good thing is that you will have it built to suit your needs. Therefore, you do not need to find a pattern. Determine what is your optimum height, depth, and length (width.) For the height, use an existing chair for guidance and think about how thick the cushions might be that you will want to use. Height is down, two to go.

For the depth, front to back, decide if you want to use pillows in the back of the banquette, or an upholstered back, or nothing. That will drive the depth. Again, you could also use any chair for inspiration. for length (width) see what makes sense in your space. It can be any width you want, but you may want it to make sense in the space...ending at the end of a window, things like that. Hope this helps.

February 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Interesting. I am doing a banquette right now for a client. and my upholsterer is going to do a 4" thick down wrapped cushion. We are going to add 4 `18" down pillows for the back. Not sure of the cabinet height - but it's already installed so, that won't change. Great post!

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoni Webb

Joni, oh that's great, should be cushy!

March 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

I am interested in putting a banquette in my kitchen, but don't even know where to start. Is building one on your own a crazy idea? I know what I want in my mind, but can't seem to find what I am looking for. Any suggestions on how to build a do it your selfer?

May 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I need a recommendation for a manufacturer to build and upholster a banquette I have designed for a client. The job site is in Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231

I also would like to have a recommendation for a manufacturer to build and upholster a banquette for my kitchen. Or do you have suggestions for how to have one built. I am in Savannah.

July 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

A banquette can be created by cabinetry (the bottom section) or built by a local craftsperson, a millworker. Your best bet would be to contact a local kitchen designer or interior designer, the latter, if you want it upholstered. Just be aware of the general recommendations in the piece I wrote.

You may also want to consider the back of the banquette, obviously. If that is to be upholstered, or have pillows against it, and so on. You may even want to study restaurant banquettes, as you may find a very wide variety of ideas fairly quickly!

July 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

How about THIS for a resource:


July 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hi there, I have a corner in my kitchen that I'd like to put an L shaped banquette. The two available walls that make up the corner are 48" x 48". How many people would a banquette that size seat? Assuming that I add no additional chairs on the other side of the table surface? I can't fit 4 people in there can I?

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Hi Wendy!! Let me put that into my computer...be back soon.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Wendy, if you are talking about 48" from each inside corner outward, starting from the corner of the wall out, then you can only fit two, one on each side, and most likely, those two people knees would knock with one another. :(

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Thanks so much for the info Susan. I had forgot about people's knee's!

Love this site by the way!

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

My pleasure! And thanks!

August 1, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Hello...this site is very informative, thank you for creating it. I have a question, I'm going to be putting in an "L" shaped banquette, what depth would you recommend for seating if I were to do a 14" cabinet hieght with a 5" cushion?

Thank you!

August 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

...one more thing (regarding the previous question)...I won't have an upholstered back or anything, it will just be the cabinet/bench. I like the propped up pillow idea too. Thnx

August 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Hi Kathleen, glad to have you here. Well, you're right to consider if you will have pillows, and if so, how many, what kind, and how large? That will make a difference in regard to the depth. If you did not have pillows, you could make it as shallow as, say, 17, 18". Otherwise, with pillows, I'd say, anywhere from 21-24" deep, probably closer to 21". But, don't guess, mock something up with or without pillows to see what feels right/comfortable for you. I hope that helps.

August 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I am doing a kitchen remodel and have only a narrow area for table & chairs, so I was thinking of an L shaped banquette. On one wall, I have roughly 60 inches under a window and then 50 inches on the perpendicular wall. Is that enough space? If so, what size and shape of table to go with the banquette? I will have room for a chair opposite the 60 inch wall. Thanks!

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

I am having a new window bumpout in my kitchen table area. Because of other constraints (a trim piece on the exterior) the windows need to be set fairly low. I would only have about 15 1/2 inches from the subfloor to the bottom of the window. Can I do a window seat/ banquette that short?


August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnita Parsa

We are building a new house, and I was wondering what the total height of the bench is. I'm trying to determine how high the windows need to be from the floor. Thank You, Tiffany

October 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

I'm doing some upholstered cushions for a friend for her banquette. The seats lift up for storage inside. Origianlly we were going to attach the fabric to the wood, but then they thought about just covering the foam/batting and attaching with heavy duty velcro for easy cleaning and to keep the cushions from moving around. Has anyone done this before? It's a first for me! Help!

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKerry

I, too, was designing a banquette for a nook in my newly rejuvenated 1930 Tudor Revival. Then I saw a great settee at Boston Interiors and decided to go the upholstered furniture route instead of the built-ins.
Now I'm searching for a table, and heard about a new idea, a 'European height' table, 24" high rather than the standard 30" high dining table or the 18" coffee table. I've also seen reference to a 'Conversation Table'. Sounds great to me, as I envision this space as an adult gathering area for light meals/drinks/appetizers or coffee with the newspaper. But I can't find any good designs on the web. Any ideas?

February 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy D

We have a banquette on display in our showroom. The back is slightly angled, which makes it super cozy. Also, the seat comes out about two inches further than the paneling on the bottom, so your feet have room to go back. This is supposed to provide optimum comfort, because when people sit their feet naturally go back behind their knees. The bottom cushion is about four inches, and the top is a little smaller. I haven’t sat in a more comfortable banquette.

Here's a photo of it.

April 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Grabowski

I found your site and am interested in doing this in my kithcen. We are in the midst of a renovation. I wanted to look at the picture referenced above as it sounds like what I am looking for. Please help

October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Would you recommend using vinyl on an upholstered back rest at a banquette or fabric? How about the seat cushion? Thanks!

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl Fyfe

Your information on the banquette was very helpful. I am currently working on designing one for my sister-in-laws house. Thanks again for the information.

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOdy

How does one determine the size of the table top to fit a banquette? We just had one built in our kitchen nook and are now trying to figure out how big of a table to buy/have made. Our banquette is three sided. Thanks!

November 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlesia

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