We've seen this trend for quite awhile now, so it's probably safe to say that it's become a permanent option for the dining room (or perhaps a casual kitchen nook). In lieu of a set of chairs, using a bench or two gives the space a more casual, rustic feel.
[ Photo from Sköna Hem ]
Aesthetics aside, we like the idea of using a bench-and-table combo for a small space because not only can a bench pull double (or triple!) duty, but it can seat a few extra guests in a pinch.