Comfy, cosy and ideal in compact as well as more spacious kitchens, banquette seating is proving a winning choice with consumers – Nicola Hanley looks at the trend and some of the ways in which designers are incorporating it.
“When you go out to dinner and you’re offered a table or a booth, most people will choose a booth. Why? Because they’re so comfy! And banquette seating is much the same - it creates a convivial and relaxed dining space which is a paramount consideration in kitchen design,” says Peter Humphrey, design director and founder of Humphrey Munson. “While integrating bench seating into cabinetry may not be groundbreaking, it undeniably enhances the comfort and ‘living’ aspect of a kitchen.”
Lifestyle changes are definitely driving interest in banquette seating as the way in which homeowners use their kitchens continues to evolve. “There is a noticeable trend towards incorporating banquette seating as part of kitchen island configurations. This shift reflects a growing preference for more integrated, multi-functional spaces in the home,” says Sheraton Interiors’ designer Mark Hassett. “The rise in at-home dining and entertaining, especially post-pandemic, has shifted focus towards more versatile kitchen designs making banquette seating an attractive option.”
Tim Higham, MD of Higham Furniture, says his company is increasingly being asked to incorporate banquette seating into its Shaker kitchens. “This is because people are choosing to dine and entertain more in their homes, or, because the working from home trend has led to more people wanting their kitchen to be a beautiful yet multifunctional space.”
“Customers are opting for comfort and want a versatile space that accommodates family members and guests of all ages,” agrees Cassie Jones, brand manager at Masterclass Kitchens. “The trend for banquette seating in kitchen island configurations is driven by a combination of practical considerations, changing family structures, increases in multi-generational living and evolving design preferences that prioritise comfort, functionality and bringing people together in the home.”
Sinead Trainor, kitchen category manager at LochAnna Kitchens, also believes the trend correlates with the rise of multigenerational family homes. “This seating style fosters togetherness, seamlessly integrating with kitchen islands to provide a comfortable and stylish dining solution while efficiently maximising space.”
Simon Taylor, MD of Simon Taylor Furniture, says he has designed and installed numerous kitchens with banquettes attached to an island in a variety of layouts. “It means you have a dining and entertaining space right at the heart of the kitchen, making it more sociable, whilst using less space taken by a separate dining table and chairs. We also tend to include drawers beneath the banquette for extra storage.”
Sheraton Interiors’ Mark Hassett says U-shaped and L-shaped banquettes are popular thanks to their space efficiency. However, curved designs are increasingly winning over consumers too. “We tend to design a curved element to the kitchen island as it helps to provide a more informal seating area,” says Richard Davenport, MD at Davonport. “Curves are also big business in kitchen design and provide an unexpected visual element to a kitchen.”
Curved designs are also n demand with Tom Howley customers. “Banquette seating in a curved shape will increase the amount of seating available and will also create a more ‘conversational’ shape as people are directed towards each other,” says Sophie Hartley, sales designer at Tom Howley’s Tunbridge Wells showroom.
And are kitchen island banquettes starting to replace informal breakfast-bar style seating? Richard Davonport believes so. “We are seeing it start to replace breakfast areas as it is a more comfortable option, and as always, new trends come and old trends go.”
Tom Howley, creative design director at Tom Howley isn’t so sure. “We’ve seen it introduced as an addition to bar seating. This creates both formal and informal dining options with bar seating for breakfast, eating on the go or drinks and a dining table with banquette seating for family meals and entertaining - the best of both worlds.”
Humphrey Munson’s Peter Humphrey agrees. “Many clients will still opt for informal counter stools as these can coexist harmoniously with banquette seating, serving different purposes within the kitchen space. We don’t perceive banquette seating as a passion trend. Rather it’s a timeless choice that resonates with those who seek a more intimate ambiance for their dining experiences.”