In an era long dominated by the kitchen island, built-in banquettes have taken a back seat. But interior designers and homeowners are rediscovering the appeal of those chair-height, often upholstered benches that anchor the seating areas of kitchens, dining rooms, and open-plan spaces. Banquettes share DNA with window seats which are found in every room of the house, and banquette seating without a table in front of it often appears in mudrooms and entryways as a place to pause and slip off your shoes or rest your belongings.
A popular space-saving solution in the midcentury modern interiors of the last century, built-in banquettes never really went out of style. Long a fixture in tight city apartments and eat-in kitchens in older homes where a central island with bar stool seating would be cramped or impossible, these days the banquette is finding its way into larger, open plan spaces as a replacement for or alongside a kitchen island.
The shape of a banquette can be adapted to suit the layout of your kitchen or dining room, and may run along a single wall or occupy an L-shaped corner or a U-shaped alcove. You can use a banquette to help define a seating area in an open-plan space, or custom build a banquette that follows the irregular angles of an older home. Adding a built-in banquette can range from a straightforward DIY to a more elaborate tailor-built job for a professional carpenter. Banquettes are usually made of a wood base that may include integrated or free-form upholstery in leather or fabric (choose an outdoor fabric if you’re worried about wear and tear) and may include under-bench storage.
These ideas for built-in banquette seating will show you how to turn your kitchen into a cafe, your dining room into a bistro, and your home into a cozier, comfier space for meals, coffee breaks, or working from home. If you live in a rental or don't have the means to add a built-in banquette, there are plenty of options out there for freestanding banquettes in a range of materials, styles, and colors that can mimic the look.
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Use Warm Materials
A banquette makes an eat-in kitchen feel like a destination rather than an afterthought. Ashley Montgomery Design anchored this comfortable leather banquette seating area with a large woven pendant light over a sculptural wood table. A large painting fills the space over the seating area and a round porthole window on the adjoining wall lets in extra light.
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Add a French Bistro Table
This renovated farmhouse from Leanne Ford Interiors has a long built-in wood banquette in a natural finish with under bench storage. Loose oversized linen-covered cushions act as a backrest. A small vintage French bistro table with a whitewashed iron base in the corner by the window is everyone's favorite seat in the house.
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Find a Loophole
In this Southampton surf retreat from Becca Interiors, a roomy kitchen banquette accommodates a large wooden farm table and antique chairs. The banquette is built on a sturdy painted white wood frame but left open for an airier look that complements the white shiplap walls and coastal decor. Upholstered seat backs are held up by fabric loops secured to long metal wall-mounted bars, an easy DIY hack that works well for an improvised headboard as well.
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Sneak In Extra Storage
Cathie Hong Interiors opened up a former galley kitchen to create an open concept space with room for a comfortable banquette accessorized with plump throw pillows in shades of pink and olive green that can be adjusted according to individual comfort levels. A row of built-in cabinetry overhead adds extra storage.Continue to 5 of 27 below.
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Add Under Bench Storage
This light and airy kitchen banquette seating area from Finding Lovely includes under bench storage with the same Shaker cabinetry and hardware found throughout the kitchen. With an oval Saarinen style table and Scandinavian style chairs, the light and bright space is nestled in a window to create a convenient spot for both casual family meals and special occasions.
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This DIY sunroom banquette seating area from A Beautiful Mess has a channel tufted back in a neutral fabric that runs all the way up to the ceiling, making the space feel larger and airier. The bench seating includes hidden storage thanks to swing-up hinges.
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In this Tudor renovation from Erin Williamson Design, family-style banquette seating runs the width of the whole back wall of the kitchen. A large oval table breaks up the linear banquette while creating ease of movement. A mix of pendant and sconce lighting above the table ensures that the seating area is well lit day or night.
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Keep It Tight
This cozy corner banquette from Jessica Nelson Design has natural light from the windows, comfy upholstered seating with extra throw pillows, and a small round cafe table to preserve flow. The built-in base is painted in the same blue as the kitchen cabinets for a cohesive look.Continue to 9 of 27 below.
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Multiply Your Options
In this large indoor kitchen that opens to the outdoors, Heather Hilliard Design included an island with bar height seating as well as a comfortable leather banquette seating area with a large table—with rounded edges to make sure you can easily slide in and out—for more leisurely sit-down meals.
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Add Accent Wallpaper
This built-in breakfast nook from Michelle Berwick Design has multi-colored abstract floral wallpaper that creates a striking focal point in the all-white kitchen. Space-saving banquette seating allows four people to squeeze in for a coffee or a casual meal.
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Focus on the View
This contemporary banquette in a historic California home renovation from Erin Williamson Design is positioned in the corner of a spacious kitchen with industrial glass and metal windows and doors that open to the outside and provide a view of the pool. Black chairs with cane backing and a patterned banquette back blend seamlessly with the black-and-white and wood tones of the room.
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Tailor It to Fit
The breakfast nook in a renovated 1930s house in Miami Beach designed by Calimia Home has a bespoke banquette seating area that is tailored to fit the proportions of the space.Continue to 13 of 27 below.
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Try Pink Velvet
A Beautiful Mess created a DIY L-shaped pink velvet banquette that brightens up the corner of a bright white kitchen, creating a cozy spot for having a drink or a meal.
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Add a Gallery Wall
Caroline Brackett Studio of Design added a half wall of wainscotting behind this large u-shaped banquette seating area, complete with a family-friendly dining table and extra chairs. A gallery wall of butterflies on the top half of the wall and colorful throw pillows add a decorative element.
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Add a Cat Cubby
This dining area designed by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design has graphic wall decor and vintage furniture. The banquette seating also includes a discreet round hole in the base that is a stealth passageway for a pair of cats who blend right in with the black-and-white decor.
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Use Tea Tables
Heather Hilliard Design floated a large dining table in the center of this spacious open-plan kitchen, then installed banquette seating along the far wall that is outfitted with a small Moroccan side table and a little round occasional table for afternoon tea breaks, pre-dinner drinks, or after-dinner lounging.Continue to 17 of 27 below.
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Follow the Angles
This built-in kitchen banquette from Becca Interiors follows the irregular angles of a Colonial home in Connecticut to maximize every last inch of space. The wooden base is topped with an upholstered gray seat cushion and back to add comfort and shelter from the windows.
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Squeeze It In
In this galley-style apartment kitchen from Georgia Zikas Design, a corner banquette is built in at the far end beneath a window with a city skyline view. Blue upholstery and throw pillows add color, while a round tulip-style table without any sharp edges allows for easy maneuvering in the compact space.
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Stick to Black and White
This black-and-white corner banquette seating area in a kitchen designed by Leanne Ford Interiors has a graphic black-and-white palette and a mix of old and new decor—a modern bistro table, classic French bistro chairs, a gilded vintage mirror, and a woven pendant light—that gives it a timeless appeal. An angled wood base provides extra leg room, while two-toned upholstery adds comfort and style.
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Make It a Double
In a small space, creating a double banquette using freestanding benches and wall-mounted back rests on either side of a wall-mounted table can save room while creating a diner booth feel. In this bright kitchen from Emily Henderson Design, clean-lined pale wood furniture complements white walls, and dark blue velveteen upholstery adds a pop of rich color.
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Add a Spare
The key to harmonious family living is often creating multiple spaces where people can gather or peel off from the group as desired. This spacious West Palm Beach, FL house designed by Calimia Home includes a bonus banquette seating area with a small table and bentwood chairs designed for solo work or one-on-one conversations.
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Go All White
Emily Henderson Design installed an all-white corner banquette seating area that practically disappears against the white walls and windows when not in use.Continue to 25 of 27 below.
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Explore Earth Tones
This Venice, CA banquette seating area from Leanne Ford Interiors is finished in earthy neutral tones and vintage furniture. The built-in banquette has a weathered feel that makes it feel like it's always been part of the architecture.
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Kate Marker Interiors added a hybrid kitchen island and dining space with banquette seating on the other side in this spacious U-shaped kitchen. Instead of bar stools, the back of a large island forms a banquette for a generous dining table completed with normal-height seating for greater comfort and a more traditional feel.
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If you live in a rental or don't have the energy or the means to add a built-in banquette, there are plenty of options out there for freestanding banquettes in a range of materials, styles, and colors. Just back them up against the wall, add a table, and you're good to go, like this cottage seating area from blogger Ursula Carmona of Home Made By Carmona.