A charming banquette with a built-in bench can be a great space saver, while adding coziness and warmth to your kitchen. The size and scale of your banquette is determined by the space you have available, but there are a few design considerations to keep in mind as you choose a bench for your eat-in area.
First, consider comfort. Family and guests will be more likely to linger over coffee or sit down and chat with the cook if they can lean back and relax. Most tables are 30 inches high, so your bench should be about 18 inches tall—which will leave about 12 inches from the top of the bench to the table surface. At minimum, you'll want the seat to be at least 15 inches deep (more if you have cushions). If you have the space, a depth of 24–30 inches will be much more comfortable.
Second, select a bench that complements your room's layout and the design of the table you plan to use. Pair a long bench with a traditional, rectangular table for a sophisticated look or opt for a curved bench to complement the contours of a round dining table. An L-shape bench can be a great choice for a space-savvy corner banquette—pair it with a pedestal table to create a cozy nook that's easy to access.
Finally, you want to choose a fabric for the bench that's both stylish and easy to clean. Outdoor fabrics, available in a range of designs and colors (many are much softer now than older outdoor fabrics), offer low-maintenance beauty. Many fabrics can also be laminated to make them easier to clean. Or opt for loose cushions or cushions that can be tied onto the bench, suggests Thomas Hayes, a designer with Thomas Hayes Interiors in Los Angeles, California. They allow you to easily wash the cushions, or even change out the look with the seasons. Don't be afraid to have a little fun with the fabric choice. A bold, colorful fabric can be a great way to add some extra personality to your kitchen. Pick up a color that's used in the main work zone or a complementary hue that pairs well with nearby window treatments. With a comfortable bench and a stylish fabric, you'll have a dining area that no one wants to leave.