The 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."
A 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!