Built-In Banquette, Part One

By Kate Riley March 24, 2014

I was having coffee with our pastor’s wife a few months ago in their home, we were talking about all of of her plans for fixing up the house on a very limited budget. (Out of respect for their privacy I can’t share her name but let’s just call her “Carrie”.) She shared that the biggest dream of hers was to install a built in wrap around bench in their U shaped breakfast nook for their family of six and cozy it up with cushions and pillows. I wholeheartedly agreed that a banquette would be perfection!

We started scheming how to make it happen and a few weeks later she called me in excitement to tell me they were going to build it in a shop with a carpenter friend who’s also member of the congregation. He guided them from start to finish on the build. Six weeks passed as the bench slowly took shape over time and I’m so excited to share the first phase. Let’s call it a “before” and “during” because there are many more details to come … 

empty nook


built in bench in nook


The pieces for this built in banquette were constructed in this order: first the three boxes then the face frame, next the drawers, drawer fronts, and finally the top.

boxes and drawers in shop


The solid U shaped top was created by attaching three pieces of high grade plywood together with notched dowels and then adding trim to form the overhanging edges.

bench 2


Here is the banquette on installation day, you can see the boxes that hold the deep drawers were installed first in the space then plywood stabilizers were added in the corners to support the top piece for the U shaped benches.

box installation

top supports


The drawer fronts, frame, and top were all primed and painted ‘Linen White’ by Benjamin Moore in the Advance formula. The back window sills had to come off to fit the solid top of the bench into the space but it all came together perfectly.

installing the top


Each drawer pulls out for additional storage for seasonal linens or games and toys (four children live here!)

pull out drawers


Big props to my friend “Carrie” for refinishing her pedestal table too – it used to be black but she wanted stained rustic wood instead so she stripped and sanded all the paint away then gave it a light stain and several layers of dark wax.

black table before


The next phase involves adding a white painted plank wall and woven shades on the windows – the combination will add really wonderful texture. Below there will be cushions, throw pillows, and industrial style chairs.

built in nook phase 2

The homeowners are inspired by this plank wall project spied over at The Wood Grain Cottage but they’re going to wrap all three walls above the banquette. 

plank walls breakfast nook


After that comes the best part of all, decorating with fabric! I’m partnering with one of my favorite sources for fabulous fabrics Tonic Living to supply the textiles – we’re excited to pull together a medley of geometrics and botanical motifs for the pillows, the cushion fabric will be this indoor/outdoor Vogue Grey.

These are the top contenders in a gray, yellow, with a hint of blue palette for pillows:

bench pillows

landsmeer citrine / graphic fret citrine / spring mix aloe / mod layout stripe in jade / embrace corn yellow / spice market putty / baraka ikat grey / willow corn yellow


Don’t you just love a home with a banquette?

wood table and u shaped banquette


blue walls coral spotted fabric on banquette


bhg banquette with yellow walls


u shaped banquette bhg


banquette with wood table bhg

 navy blue and white banquette


l shaped banquette

images via Better Homes & Gardens

The project and styling for this banquette should be finished in a month, maybe two, there is much sewing and planking to do! I’m so excited for this deserving family’s breakfast nook makeover, I’ll share the final reveal when complete! 

Also, for those of you following the Creating with the Stars contest, hop on over to see all the amazing knock offs in Round One! My partner is Tracy from Right Up My Alley, I’m not allowed to say which project is hers but she killed it and I’m so proud of her! Hop on over to see the 12 projects and vote with one click on Survey Monkey !



  1. LOVE all of these inspirational images, and the progress! it’s perfect for that space and so glad that she is getting a beautiful area she deserves.

  2. Oh my word, this looks absolutely beautiful and it’s not even finished yet! What a wonderful space to have and those drawers are just perfect.

  3. Beautiful! I’m planning on adding a banquette for our kitchen remodel, so the pictures and building process are both very helpful and inspiring. Looking forward to the reveal!

  4. How exciting for your pastor’s family. I look forward to seeing the eating nook come together.

    I noticed that one of the inspirational photos had benches that were, is the word cantilevered? The portion at the floor was set in several inches back from the top. I bet that would be more comfortable. I wonder if that is considerably harder to construct. It would give up storage space, but I’m thinking it would be more comfortable for sitting. What do you think?

    • Hi Diane, I think that might be a tad more difficult to construct but it’s a great design! It appears to be a lift up top – that kind of storage access makes more sense with the angles – I love it!

  5. Hi Kate – I love this look! In your opinion does banquet seating work in a formal dining room? In other words does banquet seating only work right off of the kitchen?

  6. I love those inspiration pics and have been trying to figure out how I can make this work in my very open kitchen/living room combo.

  7. This is going to look stunning! I can’t wait to see the finished product. You really are creating a little breakfast nest to curl up in and escape from the world. Wonderful.

  8. I just completed a similar project in our kitchen. I was all set to build from scratch after researching, measuring and drafting out my plans. Then I saw some Ikea hacks on Apartment Therapy – Expedit shelving units repurposed. Alas, they would not work for me, I had a 52″ wall length to fill.

    Then, a brainstorm happened – the Expedit is also available as individual “squares” and three of them together measure 52 1/8″! I ran to Ikea and best surprise of all – on sale for $9.99 each! I bought three along with a drawer insert for storage ($20) and a few days later – a new banquette for $50 and way less effort. I can send a pic if you like.

  9. Incredible transformation. So wish I had area for a banquette in my house.
    Any idea where she got the light fixture in the photo with the planked walls? I have been looking for something similar. I want to save this pic for my dream house inspiration folder (binder by now!)
    Thanks for any guidance on the light.

  10. Love it! She did a fabulous job refinishing the table too. I grew up with a banquette, but we called it a breakfast nook. We took all our family meals there, and the kids went in first. It never failed as soon as the prayer was said, my brother would have to use the bathroom. Bwa ha ha. It would annoy my dad that he had to get back up. Good memories. Still makes me giggle.

  11. So beautiful! I love the way a banquette can bring a room together and provide a space for a family to gather. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  12. Great post! I love our banquette and yours will be wonderful! Great inspiation rooms!

  13. Perfect timing! My son is getting ready to build a table and then a banquette for their breakfast nook..
    This will certainly be inspiring. I’m wondering about fabric for seat cushions…it would be great if they could buy them ready-made, since custom cushions can be pricey. Also the fabric…attractive, spill resistant and ‘scoot-able’…looking forward to part 2!

  14. THANK YOU, I LOVE this post! You put so many wonderful banquette ideas into one place and gave me the inspiration to have a friend of ours help build ours custom to our needs instead of trying to figure it out by piecing together something from Ikea! This post really made my day – yes I love banquettes that much, I think it’s an illness. :)

  15. I do love banquette and this one is off to a terrific start! Ever since that recent Country Living with the four different covers showing a darling banquette in a variety of colorways, I’ve been mildly obsessed!

  16. I plan to semi-diy a banquette when the IKEA opens here – thanks for great info and ideas! Where did the light fixture come from?

  17. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. Even half-way through it already looks fantastic! Makes me wish we were outta our apartment and in a home we could transform, lol.

  18. There is something so cozy and inviting about a banquette! I wish I had room for one. It is so nice to see how your community is partnering together on this worthy project. I can’t wait to see the final reveal!

  19. Kate, what an amazing collaborative effort! Didn’t “Carrie” do an outstanding job refinishing that table! No doubt she’s learned a lot of carpentry skills from the carpenter who included her in the building process. And now she’s learning design from the best – YOU!
    Wouldn’t those windows in her “banquette-to-be” area look great with “Farmhouse” trim? That idea must have already been buzzing around in YOUR brain because 2 of YOUR banquette inspiration photos included “Farmhouse” windows: your 3rd photo w/ “ghost” chairs & your 4th photo with a smaller window. This topic was fresh on my mind because I have just finished reading your great post from yesterday (3/24/14 – “How to Plank a Bathroom Ceiling” by Donna @ Funky Junk Interiors – no, that’s NOT me :-) & I noticed her awesome tutorial at the end of it: “How To Make A FarmHouse Window” (Jan. 23, 2014). With over 17,000 pins, that tutorial is wildly popular!
    Just 1 more idea to add to the gazillion other design ideas floating around in your head for this project, Kate.
    Years from now, “Carrie’s” 4 children will recall many happy memories from family gatherings around this banquette, just as those mentioned by so many of your readers.

    By the way, yours is the ONLY blog I make time to read every day because it’s so inspiring in so many ways! I noticed recently that 95% of my pins came from YOU! “Centsational” doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I don’t think “gazillionsational” is a word :-) Keep up the good work, Donna

    • Too kind Donna, I’ll check out the “other” Donna’s tutorial !!

  20. This is awesome, Kate! What a wonderful project, doubly so because it’s all being done with so much love instead of a lot of money. I look forward to seeing the finished space.

    My pastor’s wife is one of my best friends in the world. What a privilege!

  21. So beautiful. Love everything, especially colors and textiles. But no toe kick?!

  22. Love a banquet! We are going to build one for our kitchen after we get our new floors installed (whenever that is!). I’m so impressed that she refinished the table herself. Job well done. The table looks great with the crisp banquet. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s all finished.

  23. LOVE what your friend is doing — can’t wait to see the final results! I have been wanting to tackle a built-in like this in my kitchen so thanks for more inspiration!

  24. Beautiful project! It’s going to be so amazing when it’s done. But I especially love that chalkboard above the banquette and that she has their catechism Q&A written on it! I might have to copy that idea if I can find a pretty enough chalkboard. :)

  25. Hi Kate! What a gorgeous space. I can’t wait to see the finished nook. We recently built a banquette seat for our dining room in our open floor plan town house. It really defines our space and OH the storage! Swoon! But I’m having a dilemma, zero sewing skills. Will you be helping to make custom cushions? I’m a local Bay Area girl and if you have any referrals. I wouldn’t begin to know where to find some one to make custom cushions…

  26. Do you know what stain she used? I have some dark briwax to for sealing. Is that what she used?

  27. Dark brown Annie Sloan, but the Briwax will work great too!


  28. Hi Kate, was there ever an update post to this one? I can’t find it but would love to see the finished space!

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