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What is a Banquette?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A banquette is a type of upholstered bench which is typically built into the walls of a structure. Many people associate banquette seating with classic diners, although they also appear in restaurants of other persuasions and in some private homes. For people who want a more homey eat-in kitchen, a banquette can be one way to create efficient, pleasant seating for diners. The term “banquette” also describes a type of military fortification, which consists of an elevated platform which allows people to fire weapons while still being protected by ramparts.

Banquette is merely a diminutive of the French word for “bench.” This built-in furniture feature usually takes up much less floor space than an assortment of chairs, and it is more efficient to work around, since the banquette does not have to be moved for cleaning and the solid construction ensures that dust and grime do not accumulate underneath. Many people also find banquettes cozy and friendly, and they do tend to encourage a lingering meal.

The design of a banquette is fairly basic. A solid bench is built into a wall and typically attached, although free-floating banquettes are not unheard of. Often, a banquette is built into a corner, to make a more efficient use of space, or multiple banquettes are installed back to back, as is the case in many restaurants. Both the back and bottom of the banquette are upholstered to make the seating experience more comfortable.

The material used to cover a banquette is usually stain resistant, and in many cases it is designed to be wiped with a sponge or cloth to remove stains. Vinyl and leather are common upholstering materials, although thick canvas, duck, and other fabrics can be used as well, as long as they are treated to be stain resistant. The padding for the upholstery is typically a thick foam which will rebound after use to ensure that the seating stays comfortably padded for years, if the foam is sturdy enough.

In home kitchens, many people like to build banquettes which are also used as storage containers. In this case, the seat of the banquette may lift up to allow access to a hollow space underneath, or a panel in front can slide away for the same purpose. There are a number of ways to creatively install banquette seating in a home kitchen; some people take advantage of prefabricated upholstered benches available from furniture stores, while others prefer to build their seating to exact custom specifications.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By JaneAir — On Jul 13, 2011

@Monika - Don't feel too bad about not knowing the term "banquette." I don't think it's used very widely. I know I haven't heard the term too often!

In fact before today I'd never heard it. I actually found this article because I did a search so I could find out exactly what a banquette was. I overheard a lady at the store today talking about how she got a banquette with storage for her kitchen.

I've been looking to redecorate my kitchen and add more storage. I think I may consider a banquette too!

By Monika — On Jul 12, 2011

I actually used to work in a nightclub that had banquettes. The banquettes weren't covered in vinyl though-they were covered in bright red velvet! Definitely not stain resistant.

The banquettes were very popular though. They were reserved for bottle service and usually sold very well. A lot of groups found it appealing to pay a few hundred dollars for the privilege of a nice comfy seat. I think a lot of it had to do with appearances too; if you were sitting there, people knew you spent money to buy a bottle.

I never heard the term banquette before I worked at that club. In fact, when I first starting working there I thought everyone was saying "baguette" and I had no idea what they were talking about. Finally I got up the courage to ask someone and they clued me in!

By julies — On Jul 12, 2011

My sister has a day care in her home and has to feed many small children several times a day for snacks and meals.

When they were remodeling their kitchen area, she went with the kitchen banquette seating that fit in the corner. This not only gives her more room, but the benches have storage underneath, so she gets more storage room as well.

This gives her much more floor space and is so much easier to clean up than moving individual chairs around all the time.

By andee — On Jul 12, 2011

I have a friend who has 5 children. When they were looking for a way to seat their whole family in their small dining room area, a banquette bench was the perfect solution for them.

You can fit more people on bench style seating and it doesn't take up as much room as individual chairs - especially when the children are younger and don't take up much room.

It gives them more room and allows all of them to sit together for their meals.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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