I have always been a big fan of the banquette. For those of you that don’t know, a banquette is a raised bench along a wall. Banquettes are generally used to fit more people around a dining table, than you could with just chairs. That’s why I like them.
Banquette Seating in Former House
We had a banquette in the kitchen at our former house. The only pictures I have are ones swarmed with kids with toothless grins. Those grins, now full mouths of perfectly straight teeth, would not consent to their pictures looking like that on the blog lol. I digress. But, that is really the purpose of the banquette. We could have a birthday party or a hockey party and all of the kids could squeeze around the kitchen table. Bingo.
That banquette was basically a box constructed of wood with an upholstered top, with a hinge, that lifted to reveal storage. We built it into an odd corner so it had kind of an “L” shape. We had a rectanglish-shaped table to go with it. With the addition of three chairs, it worked quite well. This is something that is not that difficult to implement. Sorry no photos.
The Banquette At The River House
At the River House, the dining room is quite small. It is 10 by 13 with two doorways (actually the window is going to become a door – see blog on screened-in porch). One end is completely open to the living room. There is no encroaching on the living room through the open end however, as the living room is sunken. For this reason, the length is a hard stop at 13 feet.
A table in the middle of the room may have enabled us to sit 6-8 people but it would have been tight. That would also not have allowed for any additional storage in the room. It would also not have allowed for access to the eventual door to the screened-in porch.
Fitting as many people as possible in the dining room itself was imperative. So for me, the banquette was the only option. This time however, I wanted to try something different than the built-in variety we had before.
Customizing the Banquette
We looked at a lot of different options for benches, but we knew if we wanted something to make the most of our space, we would have to go custom. At times like this, having a husband who works in the commercial furniture industry comes in handy.
@GerainttheWelsh was able to acquire five sections of commercial lounge seating (Blok by Roulliard) at a reasonable cost. The fabric was in the right in the right colour tone, but the seating was too low for table height. (Seating for table height should be 18-21 inches.)
To correct the height issue, @GerainttheWelsh constructed a frame for the three loungers to fit in and boost their height. We ordered more of the same fabric from the manufacturer and used it to upholster the frame. We (actually @geraintthewelsh) took the feet off the loungers and added them to the bottom of the newly constructed frame. Finally, the loungers were fastened to the frame. At this point we had a 10 foot long padded bench, 21 inches high.
The Dining Table
As for the dining table, we wanted the table to be as long as possible, but also narrow. We got this rustic one at Urban Barn. It is 7 by 3 and fits perfectly in the space. I like having the bench a little bit longer than the table as it gives people a place to sit while they slide in. It also gives us the possibility to add a little table onto the end if we are trying to seat more people.
The table came with a gorgeous black iron trestle base. But after using it for a while it became apparent that we would have to change to some type of pedestal base so that people could move their legs easily, when shifting places on a banquette. The trestle base has been put to good use elsewhere in the house.
As a temporary fix we have these basic pedestal bases that allow people to move around with ease. What I don’t like about these is that the round part of the base on the floor sticks out far. So, when you push chairs in at the table they are crooked because one leg goes up on the base. I am keeping my eyes open for other options for this.
Another thing we did in this space is to move the light over the dining table to be is centred over the dining table and banquette. It is not centred in the room.
How We Use The Banquette
This set up works really well for us. In a pinch we can fit 13 but mostly 9 is the max. At Christmas one year we added tables and seated 24 and that worked well.
As a side note, the window at the end is going to become a door to our screened in porch, if we can ever find the right one.
I hope this gives you some ideas if you are trying to find ways to squeeze more people in your dining area.