Having a three storey house with the lounge on the middle floor isn’t exactly conventional. As a family of four having a formal dining space and kitchen on the ground floor with a lounge upstairs was never going to provide the flow we needed, so we turned the dining space into a family room and set about changing the kitchen to make up for our lack of dining area by creating a banquette (or ‘dining booth’) at one end of it. Read our kitchen products and choices hereand our accessory choices here.
That sounds relatively easy right?! If you’re thinking of creating something similar in your own place you’ll soon discover that unless you have a separate utility room for your appliances and additional storage, or unless you’re extending, you need to maximise every possible inch of your space and storage opportunities for this to work.
I spent hours and hours (and hours) pouring over potential solutions on Pinterest and literally sat in the space like a mad woman trying to visualise it. I also used multiple free consultations from kitchen designers to gain nuggets of information and ideas I’d not thought of. Here’s the area ‘before’:
Our main dilemma was that in building the banquette area we then had to relocate the washing machine, microwave and all the storage on that side of the room, but we weren’t extending so had to create space from nowhere. You may need to do something similar so the solutions we came up with may help…
Firstly, by building a peninsula out into the middle of the room we created extra cupboard space and a home for the washing machine. But in doing this we then lost the home for our fridge freezer and didn’t have a huge amount of clearance space to walk into the kitchen end. If you’re planning an island or peninsula, the recommended clearance space around it is a minimum of around 90cm or 35". We could have put an undercounter fridge with small freezer compartment in the peninsula and put our old fridge freezer in the garage, but that would have used the storage space and my 6"1 husband (who does most of the cooking, yes, I’m a lucky gal) would have been forever bending down to the floor to get the food out. A possibility but not ideal.
Now I’d love to claim the genius idea that solved the kitchen banquette puzzle, but it was in fact my Mum who arrived with her superhero cape on and announced: ‘Why don’t you lose half the space from your downstairs loo (on the hallway side opposite the kitchen sink) to allow space for a tall fridge freezer on this side?’ We’d hit the jackpot and this was the key that unlocked the rest of the design. Hallelujah. We had extra tall cupboard doors fitted on the integrated fridge freezer so we could have a cupboard for infrequently used items above it (for me, it’s baking stuff; with crafting and DIY-ing being an obsession, I’m afraid I choose that over baking!).
By having a combi micro oven fitted above our main oven in a tall housing unit at the side instead of having the oven underneath the hob we didn’t have to find a space for our microwave on the worktopand it’s provided us with a double oven at the same time. This then allowed us to have 3 drawers underneath the hob which are perfect for our pots, pans and cooking utensils. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel not having a clean run of top units because I’m a big fan of clean lines, but it works and I actually like the interest it gives.
The banquette benches were made to measure and turned out exactly as I had hoped. When considering the dimensions for comfort and practicality, here are the recommended measurements we used:
We have lift up seats for much needed storage underneath and for the seat pads I ordered 7" cut to size foam online and then covered them myself with linen look grey oilcloth – yes oilcloth! It’s so practical with sticky fingers and this particular type doesn’t have a high shine so is less obvious. I’m not very good on the sewing front but I’m happy with it while the girls are so young and I’ll pay to have them covered professionally when they’re older and less messy!
The banquette could have sat right back against the far wall which would have given us a greater clearance between the table and peninsula or allowed us a deeper table, but we were still struggling with storage so instead we had standard depth cupboards fitted onto the wall (the same height from the ceiling to the top of the units as the rest of the kitchen for consistency), then had a frame built around it to look more like a panelled wall (we used push-close fittings from Ikea instead of handles) and the banquette seating was then built from there. I love this element to the kitchen! It’s got great storage for less used items and my hubby is chuffed because he has his own coffee cupboard, complete with new machine and cups.
We had sufficient electrics put inside these cupboards which includes a USB point so we and friends can charge their phones and tablets and we’ve also put a Bluetooth speaker at the very top so we can play music into the room without having to open the door.
Let’s not forget to mention our bi-fold doors. They were expensive but a non-negotiable from the very beginning and I’m so glad we stuck to our guns. I know it’s a cliche, but it really does bring the outside in (the garden will be our big project next year – stay tuned folks). We’ve also gained the depth of the old back door wall, giving us more space at the end of the table which has allowed us to buy a table with extendable leaf when we want to seat 8 rather than 6 people. If you’re interested the table is 120x90cm or 180x90cm extended.
If you’re thinking of creating a kitchen banquette I hope our design journey helps yours. My Pinterest board has lots of inspiration and great examples:
Please tag @ohsokel and use #OSKinspired on Instagram if you create something after reading this post. I’d love to see the results!
Until next time,