French Decor: Stylish Seating for Your Kitchen - The French Banquette

Do you love the idea of a French banquette? Kitchen interior seating is stylish and functional when it comes to this unique seating solution. Learn more about this design trend of some fab-u-lous rooms which incorporate banquettes.


If you are looking for an easy way to seat guests, you need to go no further than the French banquette! Kitchen designers will tell you that banquettes are not only super-stylish, they can also be used to serve a variety of purposes.

The French Banquette
Stylish Seating for Your Kitchen

So just what is a banquette? Typically, when people use the phrase "banquette seating", they are referring to long, upholstered benches or window seats which are built in place.

According to homeimprovement.lovetoknow.com, banquettes were often used by royalty back as far as the 1600's. Often, they were draped in fabrics and covered in lush pillows. The love of banquette seating in the formal sense resurfaced in the 20th century with designers Billy Baldwin and Elsie de Wolfe.

Today, however, the term "banquette" enjoys a much broader definition of seating. Banquettes can be built-in, free-standing, upholstered, wooden, pre-fabricated pieces of furniture or even rustic benches.

Here are a few examples of just how different banquette seating in a kitchen or dining area can look:

banquette seating in a kitchen or dining area

Talented designers Sherry and John Petersik, of YoungHouseLove.com, showcase a dining area where a formal love seat is incorporated with more casual, sun room furniture for an elegant coastal look that is neither casual nor stuffy.

On a different note, the home featured on the right from Better Homes and Gardens uses long, rustic looking benches and ladder-back chairs paired with an old, weathered farm table. Even though the pieces are obviously mis-matched, a coordinated look is accomplished by painting all of the seating the same color white.

Most often, however, banquettes are of the built-in variety. Some are actually window seats, while others are simply crafted into a nook or set against a long wall.

All Shapes and Sizes

A typical shape for the kitchen seating banquettes is a traditional L shape, paired with a long, rectangular table. Perhaps this is because a rectangular table can accommodate a large number of seated guests. Yet, it is not out of the ordinary to see circular dining tables paired with the L banquette. Nor is it uncommon to find the seating itself in a semi-circle, like the one shown below. The only rule dictating the look is ultimately what fits best into the space you have and the number of guests you wish to include in the seating area.

Semi-circle banquette
Semi-circle banquette - by dalbera via (CC BY 2.0)

Versatile Seating

One of the benefits of having a banquette seating area is that it can be quite versatile in your use of the space. Built-in seating under a window is as great for dining as it is for curling up with a good book while waiting for tea to boil. Remove the table and guests may use the banquette as a sofa. They can sit and visit with the host while he or she prepares the meal or pours drinks.

Unlike individual chairs, benches can accommodate a generous number of people if they are willing to sit close together - especially when those people are small children! Some types of banquette seating even provide additional storage, using hidden doors or hinged lids for access to the inside spaces.

Wondering how you can create your own French banquette? Kitchen cabinets can make creating your own seating area a breeze. The next article in this series on banquettes will explain how.

The Kitchen Banquette

In this series, we take a detailed look at French banquettes, ideas for incorporating banquettes into your dining areas and how to create your own. Read on to learn more about this popular seating option.

  1. The French Banquette: Stylish Seating for Your Kitchen
  2. Making Your Own Banquette: You Can Do it Yourself!

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