Banquette seating provides plenty of space while leaving extra room in high traffic areas of the home. (Kate Benjamin)
Though seating is a necessity throughout much of our homes, it often comes as an afterthought. That was not true for Terry Ellis, ASID interior designer and owner of Room Service Interior Design at the Michigan Design Center in Troy, when she worked on a new construction house in Rochester with builder Cranbrook Custom Homes in Sterling Heights.
Ellis designed a well-appointed kitchen banquette area that stays tucked beyond the traffic path for this large, extended Italian family that takes turns entertaining. Lift-up storage is one of the many benefits of the clever space that can seat around a dozen people at any given time.
“The home was designed to feel like an Arts & Crafts bungalow,” says Ellis, who added an inset of Motawi tile to the wood cap of each bench in keeping with the theme.
“You might want to get a little more decorative with the ends that are exposed to the room,” she says.
Soft chenille fabric covers the cushion backs, while the seats wear a reptile vinyl that’s easy to wipe clean. “We wanted to keep it bright with the dark wood and the dark floor,” says Ellis.
The chairs are accented with an oversized nailhead trim that adds another layer of detail. Small ledges above the benches hold decorative accessories as needed. “The candleholder is usually a centerpiece on the table, but you can easily move it over to get it out of the way,” Ellis says.
Unlike the benches, the table is not stationary. “The table is completely movable,” says Ellis who sought out this particular style for its stamina as well as its size. “It has a really rough textured painted top that is very forgivable.”
“Painted finishes are really durable, they look good and they hold up,” she adds.
Ellis suggests following certain guidelines when planning this type of arrangement. “Ergonomics are important, including how the seating angles under you and how deep the seat should be,” she says. “It’s sort of like a church pew. The bench has to be comfortable for your back and deep enough for your feet to fit so they don’t get in the way.”
In the nearby family room, the designer took advantage of some space on either side of the fireplace with built-in benches that provide additional seating and storage.
“It softens up the big hard wood surface of the fireplace and makes the space more efficient,” says Ellis.
Window seats were added to the bedrooms whenever possible. Typically, these benches should be 18-20 inches high, meaning your windows cannot be lower than that. “Just watch your window dimensions,” Ellis says.
It’s the time spent in these seating areas, whether for reading or eating, that brings such joy. When designing the kitchen banquette, Ellis says all she could think about was “mangia” (Italian for “eat”). Her thoughtful design provides the perfect perch for plenty of family gatherings.
For information, contact Terry Ellis at (248) 637-3270 or go to www.roomserviceinteriordesign.com.
Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at email@example.com.