If you’re looking for a unique alternative to traditional dining chairs in a dining room, consider banquette seating. A banquette typically consists of a long, upholstered bench that is installed into a wall. It can also be a freestanding bench or settee. Designers are fond of using banquette seating to create a cozy mood, which can mimic the look and feel of restaurant seating. There are several ways to approach banquette seating in a dining room or breakfast nook. Here are some standard options to consider:
For the most one-of-a-kind look, a custom banquette is likely your best bet. For a DIY project, consider constructing a basic seating platform and having an upholsterer make custom back and seat cushions. A fully upholstered piece will require more expertise — likely a professional — but it will allow you the ability to work in specialized details like storage drawers or shaped back. It’s also a good option if you want to integrate textural flourishes like tassel trim, scalloping, or other details.
Freestanding Bench with Installed Back Rest
For a more low-lift option, consider using a freestanding bench as your banquette seat and crafting your own back that can be adhered directly to the wall. While you’ll still achieve a custom look, it will be notably less involved (and costly) than opting for a fully bespoke piece. Reupholster a vintage bench in a favorite fabric and cover a back piece in the same fabric for a built-in look. Or mix materials such as a rattan bench and upholstered back for a more eclectic feel.
There’s no rule against scooting a settee up to your dining table and calling it a day. A settee, whether it’s an official “banquette settee” or a more casual design will pull off a very similar effect as a custom banquette without any of the labor a more custom design requires.
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Lead image design by Summer Thornton / Photo by Werner Straube