There's no denying that an eat-in kitchen has a certain charm. But finding enough room for a table, particularly in a very small kitchen, can be a real challenge. If you've faced this particular quandary, there's a particular kind of seating you should consider: the banquette.
Above, a small 560-square-foot apartment in D.C., belong to Amira El-Gawly, and seen on a Cup of Jo. The small space didn't keep her from packing it full of style, including the comfy-looking banquette in the back corner next to the kitchen.
Seating areas like this were very popular in kitchens from the 30s and 40s, and for good reason: they are a remarkably efficient way to fit a lot of seating into a small space. (This also explains why you see them in restaurants.) As the size of the average American home expanded, banquette-style seating fell out of favor. Maybe it reminded people too much of their neighborhood diner, or maybe they just got tired of scooting.
But with the recent move towards smaller, more sustainable homes, built-in seating is starting to make a lot more sense in the kitchen. Not only does banquette seating take up less space, but also, unlike a typical chair, you can build storage into the space under the bench. That's a double win.
This kitchen from BHG has a cozy breakfast nook — with drawers built into the benches for extra kitchen storage.
This breakfast nook from BHG takes full advantage of a windowed corner.
In this kitchen from Domino, a built-in bench allows a dining area to fit into a very small space. Dining areas like these, with a banquette only on one side, help to alleviate the traditional problem with breakfast nook-style seating, which is that it's hard to get in and out of.
Built-in seating tucks into a corner of this kitchen from Architectural Digest. (Making the bench an extension of the cabinetry is a nice, streamlined detail.)
This kitchen from BHG has a corner nook in a very small space.
And here's a different twist on the idea. In this dining nook from Lonny, the designers went vertical, creating an extra tall seating nook. It's like a pub table meets banquette.
This corner nook from BHG features another smart small-space solution: a shelf above for holding kitchenware.
A breakfast nook from BHG, where the seats flip up to reveal storage within.
Another option for under-bench storage is drawers, like in this example from BHG.
A footrest, like this one in a Seattle restaurant spotted on Design*Sponge, can be a thoughtful detail for young children.
This banquette from BHG has a small shelf built into the end.
This sunny breakfast nook from Kate Marker Interiors features both banquette seating and traditional seating.
This kitchen banquette from Vogue Living, with its tall, channel-tufted back and bright green upholstery, puts a luxurious twist on the style. But that doesn't make it one bit less practical.