by Kathryn Weber

The banquette is back. This elegant contemporary version is suitable for both formal and informal dining

Banquette seating in the kitchen is back. This elegant contemporary version is suitable for both formal and informal dining

One of the side benefits of a lasting recession is that people are spending more time at home, around the dining room table.

In light of the rising costs of luxury restaurants and takeout, dining in is becoming popular again. Besides being good for the pocketbook, dining in offers better nutrition and all-important together time for busy families. With this in mind, maybe it's time to take a look at where you dine to make the space more comfortable and encourage your family to linger longer at the table. Banquette dining might be the answer.

The Banquette Is Back

The time we spend together eating is important, yet many dining sets are not as comfortable as they could be and don't encourage conversation and lingering. Hard chairs, trendy benches and stiff seats hardly lend themselves to eating, much less long table conversations. But that can be changed with some soft additions to your dining area.

For both formal and informal meals, banquettes are back in fashion. Ask any restaurant seating hostess and you'll quickly learn that the cozy padded booths trump hard-seat dining alternatives. Most customers prefer the relaxed comfort and cushion of a booth. It allows couples and families to be seated next to each other, letting them interact more closely and feel more relaxed. Booths also create an unhurried feeling that hard seats never do.

Dining banquette options range from built-in to banquette dining sets. Dining sets that feature the banquette style maybe have two-seater chairs where pairs can sit together at the table. Some sets have only one double seater and standard dining chairs. Many are round-shaped and consist of two single chairs and one or two two-seater settee style seats.

Of course, there's always the traditional built-in banquette. When space is tight, a seat can be constructed against a wall and a custom cushion made to fit the booth. If you want a booth-style seat that's not against the wall, or you want to turn your standard table into a booth, you can still add banquette seating. A quick online search turns up a variety of banquette chairs that enable you to push a table against a wall and save space.

Give Your Banquette Style

Banquettes are available in a variety of design styles, from retro to chic Las Vegas casino, and even Tuscan. Set against a wall, a banquette can be filled with pillows to provide a comfy spot for extended after-meal conversations. With its space-saving qualities, a banquette can also be built to double as storage device. With a seat lid that lifts, you can use your banquette to store items neatly out of sight.

For a green alternative, saw two salvaged church pews in half and place against a wall. Fill in with cushions and you've created a charming booth in an afternoon. With some imagination, there's a banquette to fit most any design and need with style and cozy, comfortable charm.


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