Following on from my post last week about family-friendly open-plan living, I realised that I had never actually shared the kitchen banquette seating that my handy husband Ben built for our kitchen diner a couple of years ago. These are pictures that I took of it a while back – a few of the decorative elements in the room have been updated since such as the curtains and lightshades, but the banquette area is largely unchanged.
So what the heck is a banquette then? Essentially it’s built-in seating, whether it’s a bench, U-shaped, L-shaped, curved, attached to the back of island units, or even under windows. It’s a great way of saving space in a dining area or kitchen, as it requires less room than standard chairs (because you don’t have to allow for pushing the chairs away from the table). I’d been daydreaming about banquettes for a while, and then when I took the twins to New Zealand for my brother’s wedding back in 2013, Ben built one for our kitchen as a surprise while we were away!
Our L-shaped banquette fills the dead space between our open-plan kitchen and living room. That dead zone wasn’t quite wide enough for a table with chairs all around it, so our dining table used to sit in the middle of the main kitchen area. The banquette has meant we could finally utilise that dead space, and move the table out of the kitchen. This in turn made way for an island unit in its place (a vintage school science bench), which provides more worksurface and storage. The L-shape of the seating helps to zone off the dining space, and there’s storage built into the banquette, too – drawers pull out at either end, and the seats lift up to reveal cupboard space underneath. You can never have too much storage, so this is a big bonus and helps in the battle to keep the space clear of clutter.
Every so often we toy with the idea of getting fitted cushions made for the seats, but I can never find a fabric I’m 100% happy with (particularly as it would have to be something wipe-clean for practicality), and I actually really like the simplicity of the painted wood. It does get a lot of wear though, so repainting it is on our to-do list. The kids are fine on the hard seats, but when we entertain guests, we add some cushions to make it a bit more comfy.
The back ledge is a handy spot for all my spice jars (a dab of blackboard paint on these Ikea jars means I can label them up easily), and some old dresser shelves on the wall above provide a spot for jars of dry goods like rice, couscous, popcorn, lentils etc. And luckily, Ben didn’t get rid of the twins’ height chart that was already on that wall when he built the banquette – what will I do if we ever move house?!