Built-in banquet chairs have taken over designers’ kitchens in recent months. If you’ve found yourself in a modern dining room lately, there’s probably a bench on one side of the table that, whether curved or straight, promises a relaxed and convivial meal. But hiring a kitchen fitter to install banquet chairs in your home can come at a cost and as a result, many of us turn to our own DIY skills instead.
The rising trend of banquet chairs is part of a wider movement towards creating more cozy spaces in the home, especially in non-traditional spaces such as a modern kitchen. After several years of Covid restrictions, many of us want to make our homes more conducive to a social and fun atmosphere, aided by design through curved lines, comfortable seating and mood lighting.
“Banquette seating can make your kitchen even more inviting, especially when cozy furnishings are incorporated,” explains Sophie Hartley, kitchen designer at Tom Howley. “The key to customizing banquet chairs in a smaller space is introducing curved shapes rather than chairs that follow the width of the wall. This increases the number of seats available and also creates a more ‘conversational’ form.’
If your budget allows, paying a professional to install a banquet bench in your dining area is probably the best option if you want a cozy seating area that blends seamlessly with the rest of your kitchen. However, if you don’t mind putting your creative skills to the test, you can still embrace this trend with a little DIY knowledge. We spoke to a few home remodelers who took on the challenge themselves (and executed it beautifully) for some advice.
HOW TO MAKE DIY BANQUETTE SEATING IN YOUR KITCHEN
1. Repurpose old furniture for curved benches
An inexpensive but easy option for DIY banquet chairs is to reclaim and reuse old furniture. When bars or restaurants renovate, they often sell the old furniture at low prices instead of throwing it away, much of which was used as a maternity or banquet couch.
One do-it-yourselfer and home remodeler who took advantage of this is Alice Merritt (@stikeme_pink (opens in new tab)). “We bought some of the existing banquet chairs on eBay,” she explains. ‘It came from an old pub that had closed. I then took the old fabric off and reupholstered it after watching some YouTube videos on how to make ribbing and deep knots.”
Once the chairs were transformed with beautiful deep green velvet material, it was simply a matter of reinforcing the structure to create their new dining room. ‘We’ve added new skirting boards and side panels to finish it all off,’ explains Alice. These types of curved chairs work best next to an L-shaped counter or in the corner of a room, depending on the kind you buy.
2. Use a bench with storage space against straight walls
If you don’t have room for curved benches, use a straight wall with bench.
Home renovator Jess Alavi-Ellis (@jessalaviellis (opens in new tab)) created her DIY banquet chairs (see above) using a bench with storage underneath. According to Jess, the most important thing to consider with this form of seating is its size – her sofa was custom-made by her father to meet her specific requirements.
“When approaching a banquet, focus on the right height and depth,” she says. “Would you like to sit and look out the window to see if your legs can slide under a table? Do you want to lounge or sit up straight? It helps to mark the size with tape and if possible test the height with a chair or stacked boxes.’
Beneath the benches, this kitchen storage idea hides three compartments. “Banquette chairs are a great option for hidden storage, and choosing a built-in option really allows you to maximize every inch of space,” explains Jess. “Often we’re short on storage and space, so I like furniture that serves a dual purpose.” To maximize depth and make lifting the sofa cover easy, she used a floating backrest that was attached to the wall.
Don’t forget to pay special attention to the way you upholster your seating, because here you can play with the visual impact. ‘For the fabric, I wanted something durable and washable that would age nicely over time. I stumbled upon this great (and affordable) green denim from Cloth Shop London,” says Jess. ‘I recommend choosing upholstery that can either be removed and washed or that is hardwearing and/or can be wiped clean. Outdoor fabric is a good option!’