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Living Space: Banquette seating makes for cozy, comfy dining

April 21, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 20, 2011 at 11:21 p.m.

Whether it's built-in or a banquette dining set, the banquette is seeing a resurgence.  Unlike standard chairs, a comfortable, cozy banquette encourages lingering and conversation at the table.

By Kathryn Weber

One of the side benefits of a lasting recession is that there's more time spent at the dining room table.

Priced out of luxury restaurants and the mounting costs of takeout, dining-in is becoming more popular. Besides being good for the pocketbook, dining-in offers better nutrition and the all-important together time so important for busy families.

With that in mind, maybe it's time to take a look at where you dine to make it more comfortable and encourage your family to linger longer at the table. Banquette dining might be the answer.

DINING WITH BENEFITS

The time we spend together eating is important. Yet many dining sets are not as comfortable as they could be and don't encourage conversation and time together. Hard chairs, trendy benches and stiff seats hardly lend themselves to eating, much less lengthy table conversations. But that can be changed with some soft additions to your dining area.

Whether you sit in the dining room or breakfast room for the majority of your meals, there's a soft alternative to both formal and informal dining. For the informal set, banquettes are coming back in fashion again. Ask any restaurant seating hostess, and you'll quickly learn that the cozy padded booths trump the hard-seated dining alternatives.

Most customers prefer the relaxed comfort and cushion of a booth seat. It enables couples and families to be seated next to each other. This enables them to interact more closely and feel more relaxed. Booths also create that unhurried feeling that hard seats never do.

BANQUETTE'S BACK

Unlike it's strictly built-in cousin in the 1950s, today's banquette options range from built-in to banquette dining sets. Dining sets that feature the banquette style maybe have two seater chairs where pairs can couple up at the table. Some banquette dining sets have only one double seater and standard dining chairs.

Many are round-shaped and consist of two single chairs and one or two two-seater settee style seats.

Of course, there's always the built-in banquette. When space is tight, a seat can be constructed against a wall and a custom cushion made to fit the booth. But if you want a booth-style seat that's not against the wall, or you want to turn your standard table into a booth, you can still add banquette seating.

A quick online search turns up a variety of banquette chairs that enable you to push a table up against a wall and save space.

GIVE IT STYLE

A banquette can fit, and be found in, a variety of design styles - from retro to chic Las Vegas casino and even Tuscan. Set against a wall, a banquette can be filled with pillows to take after meal conversations into the later hours. With its space-saving qualities, a banquette can also be constructed to become a storage asset, too.

With a seat lid that lifts, you can use your banquette to store items neatly out of sight. For a green alternative, saw two salvaged church pews in half and place against a wall. Fill in with cushions and you've got a charming booth in an afternoon.

With some imagination, there's a banquette that can fit most any design and need with style and cozy, comfortable charm.

For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site, www.redlotusletter.com.

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