In some kitchens, a seating area can be restricted by structural elements such as windows, doors or pillars.
Two summers ago I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing top kitchen designer Mick DeGiulio when he created a Kitchen of the Year for House Beautiful magazine. One of the main points stressed during his introduction was not about the work triangle, appliance quality, or even about cabinets which are usually the most expensive fixture. Topic A was how kitchens had morphed into living spaces that made seating a key element. So built-in booths or banquettes, which can be fitted into awkward spaces have become a well-loved solution. Whether built-in or freestanding, banquettes are essentially continuous benches with backs and no arms. Ideal for “breakfast rooms” in family kitchens, they offer real seating flexibility whether or not chairs are added on the open side.
All of these contemporary kitchen banquettes have white walls and are relatively neutral. All involve a corner. Each has a pendant light of a certain style overhead. And all have chairs pulled up on the open side of the table. What sets them apart from past posts like Big Kitchen Banquettes or Kitchen Banquette Sofas, is the emphasis on clean lines and modern furniture choices. The small irony is that many of the tables and chairs included in contemporary kitchens were designed by famous architects more than 50 years ago. And many of these instantly recognizable pieces are available from a single source: Design Within Reach.
The exotic wood-grained corner seat [top] is intended to be integrated with the kitchen counter and cabinet surfaces and provide a ledge that extends back to the window behind it. It looks a bit unforgiving for long stretches even with what I’d call scatter cushions used interchangeably for the seat and back. But banquettes may or my not have cushions. This is oddly configured as well, with a narrow laminate unit in the shape of a Parson’s table pushed right up against the bench — it would need to be moved to avoid a squeeze or crawl to get in. Eero Saarinen’s white molded Tulip armchair on the working side hews to the modern style. And because it easily could be a desk chair pulled up at the last minute, the suggestion is tight space and a one or two-person house where supplementary counter space is at a premium in this kitchen.
A contemporary kitchen banquette table I see over and over is Saarinen’s Pedestal from the same 1956 collection. “This iconic table features a cast-aluminum base with abrasion-resistant Rilsan finish and a solid marble, wood veneer or laminate tabletop,” the description says. Deftly paired with a contemporary cottage-style banquette that has beaded board on the back, the round 35-inch top snuggles right into the corner. A pair of black galvanized steel French Tolix Marais A chairs — originals date from 1934 — add a helping of visual drama.
This black chair, on Amazon.com is also called Maraisbut has a different price point, so I’ve linked it here.
Film and TV star Michael J. Fox and his wife, the actress Tracy Pollan, shared the interior of their New York apartment, including the kitchen. In a NYC apartment house corner with a protruding beam, designers Brooke Gomez and Mariette Himes Gomez gave the couple and their childen a comfortable breakfast space. A pair of custom upholstered banquet settees were made with backs to fit around the beam and covered in Lee Jofa linen. The vintage teak table is a 1960s Florence Knoll partner’s desk with a 60’s Lightolier pendant overhead. Saarinen’s Executive Side Chair with metal legs help offer seating for 6 to 8 in a compressed space. But then, saving space is exactly what a banquette is inclined to do.
(Source: rylandpeters, simodesign, AD)
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