The banquette, from the French for “bench”, is a trend that winds through the history of American interior home design like the Seine through Paris. Banquette seating has ebbed and flowed in its popularity and styling over the course of time, first rising to prevalence in the United States during the early 1900’s. Today, banquette seating isn’t a feature with the ubiquity of something like granite countertops, but when we see it we can’t help but love this unique feature.
Modern examples of this design trend can most often be found in kitchens. Often used to maximize space and sometimes for extra storage, there are a variety of options for creatively implementing this element.
Wide Open Spaces
This is a great example of banquette seating. The benches are directly affixed to the wall underneath the windows, creating an incredible eat in kitchen with plenty of extra space to pull up chairs. This home has even made use of a standalone bench that can be moved around as needed.
The banquette seating in this home really accentuates the open concept floor plan. It helps to give the space a truly wide open feel.
A Cozy Breakfast Nook
This is another great style of banquette seating. For any home with a smaller, less open kitchen a well placed banquette can create a fantastic, cozy breakfast nook. This is the perfect spot to sit on Saturdays, awash in the morning sunshine, enjoying that first cup of coffee.
Making terrific use of the space available, this home’s employment of a drop leaf table opens up even more possibilities. Who says that cup of coffee can’t transition to afternoon tea with a good book in your own reading nook? And don’t forget about the dinner guests you’ll be hosting around your table as cool blue twilight settles outside.
Bringing Us Together
Meal times are a time for connection and reconnection, where we break bread and stitch lives together. Its form may look different across time and culture, but the function is consistent and universal. And that’s where the real value of banquette seating is found. It’s not the economy of space, or even the aesthetics, though both are great. The charm of banquette seating is in the fact that you’re literally sharing your seat at the table with another person, or maybe several other people. Collectivity, community, and fellowship are intentional and inherent elements of the bench, which is important because we all recognize that there’s no graceful way to traverse it. Not even Simone Biles has the balance and muscle tension necessary to avoid the awkward scooting, bumping, and readjusting that comes with sliding down the banquette.
But this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Banquette seating underscores the fact that when you invite someone to join you for a meal, you’re inviting individual lives into a maladroit collision with one another. That sounds intimidating because it is, but it’s something that ultimately helps us learn and grow. It’s pretty incredible for a piece of furniture to push us into exactly what we need, something which by doing and experiencing it will improve us as people and, in turn, as communities. That is incredible, and that is why we love banquette seating.
The photos above are from past clients’ homes. They aren’t currently on the market, but these are. If you’re looking for ideas for how you can incorporate banquette seating, or any other number of design elements into your own home, check out some of the ones that we’ve found here.
Thanks for reading!