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Take a Stylish Seat on a Space-Savvy Bench or Banquette

Comfortable, cosy and a clever use of space, the latest benches and banquettes are a seating sensation

Houzz UK contributor. Freelance interiors journalist with over 20 years’ experience… More

If you feel you never have enough seating when friends and family descend, consider transforming an unused corner or neglected alcove into a fabulous booth or banquette. While the very words may conjure up images of a Happy Days-style retro diner, don’t be put off. Today’s built-in seating is far more sophisticated, wrapping around corners, incorporating storage or upholstered in a gorgeous fabric, as these images demonstrate. Benches work in all kinds of rooms, too, but work out where and how you will use it before you head to the shops or commission a designer. Think about how many people you would like the bench to seat, how high any table that will fit alongside it is and what shape will best suit the available space. Then prepare to take a seat…

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Treat it like a sofa
Benches and banquettes can be built-in or freestanding and the latter can boast all the same details as a sofa. So if you want more luxe banquette than park bench, look for a design with a padded back, thick seat cushions and arms, for maximum comfort. This bench has been designed to suit the long and narrow proportions of the room, providing ample seating without eating into floor space.

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Upholster in a bright shade
Make your banquette stand out from the crowd by picking a vivid colour or patterned fabric. In a busy family kitchen, choose wipeable, child-friendly materials that can stand up to the stickiest hands and toughest treatment.

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Convert a corner
An under-used corner of a kitchen can be transformed into the prettiest, sunniest spot for breakfast or tea. The base of this bench is designed to look the same as the kitchen cupboads in the adjoining space, for a coordinated feel.

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Construct a simple L
A built-in, L-shaped bench works wonders in a narrow kitchen as it means chairs only need to be pulled out on one side. Upholster the seats for extra comfort; stripes are a perennial favourite for the kitchen.

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Incorporate curves
A sweeping, curved bench is a natural fit for a large, oval table. This bright tangerine and hot pink example has a strongly 1950s feel. The bold, slightly kitsch colours and matching orange kitchen create a spirited ambience that is certain to put a smile on everyone’s face.

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Build into a bay
A comfy, curvaceous booth utilises every inch of space in a bay window and creates a snug social hub for sitting and eating. Washable, faux suede is a good option for busy kitchens. You could also ask your builder or designer to create lift-up seats, so you have some clever, extra storage underneath.

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Go bespoke
Commissioning a bespoke bench seat is an investment which comes with a heftier price tag than buying an off-the-peg, freestanding version. The advantage is that it will fit your space and be built to your design, but remember you will have to leave it behind if you move house.

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Rethink a fireplace
Building into a fireplace makes use of an awkward space. Here, a simple bench has been constructed across a disused and modernised fireplace. Its clean lines complement the sleek kitchen and it is teamed with super-modern transparent chairs, for a fresh contrast.

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Think small
Built-in benches don’t need to be big. This petite example works well as a low divide between the kitchen and eating areas, plus the cook can happily chat to anyone sitting on it while preparing food!
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