Dining Table Bench Seat

Dining Table Bench Seat

I’ve been hard at work trying to get through my list of things I wanted to accomplish before my end-of-year break. I’m definitely running behind schedule, but I spent the day yesterday working on trimming out the front windows in the breakfast room. And of course, when I’m in a room working, I do quite a bit of daydreaming, planning, and imagining how a room will look when it’s finished. The other day, I mentioned the idea of adding built-in storage flanking the pantry door. I think the consensus was that more storage is always a good idea. But a few of you asked, “Do you really need it?” and, “Won’t it limit your space for a dining table?” It’s the dining table part that really got me questioning the storage idea. Of course, I had already thought of it as I had considered the built-in storage, and had decided that it wasn’t going to be a space issue, but then I started second guessing myself. When  room is “in progress” and you’re standing in an empty room with a tape measure in hand, that’s much different than actually being in a finished room with actual furniture. Sometimes finished rooms just don’t function exactly the way we had imagined, even with our thoroughly measured and well planned ideas. And while my tape measure and math might say, “It’s fine! Go for it!” the reality of losing 13 or 14 inches of floor space could be the difference between my fully extended dining table seating 10 people and only seating 8 people, or seating 10 people comfortably and seating 10 people cramped with people having to uncomfortably squeeze around the people seated on the ends in order to reach the other side of the table. One commenter on that post floated the idea of built-in banquettes on either side of the pantry door. That idea got my head spinning, because y’all know I love built-in banquettes!! I started envisioning something like at the condo, where I had the built-in banquette with storage above. Now I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it, too. If storage would take up needed space when the table is fully extended, then built-in seating will too. But I kept mulling the idea over in my head, asking myself, “Kristi, what is it that you really need in this room?” Well, I need more dining table seating available for when the table is extended and we have more than four people at the table. Then the idea struck me. I could do the banquettes on either side of the pantry door, but make them with movable seats that can be pulled up to the dining table when extra seating is needed. It would basically be two bench seats which could each seat two people. So on a regular day, it would just look like two built-in banquettes on either side of the pantry door. But when we need extra seating at the table, the seats could be pulled over, and they’d no longer take up valuable floor space on that pantry wall. I also wouldn’t have to worry about storing away four extra dining chairs in the garage or a closet somewhere when they’re not in use. Make sense? So my only hesitation with this idea is that I can’t decide just how practical bench seating is at a dining table. I see it in pictures of dining rooms all the time, although most of them are much longer and seat more than just two people, although I did find this dining room with six separate benches that each look like two-seaters. Photo by Scott Gilbride/Architect Inc. – Search contemporary dining room design ideas So what are your thoughts on bench seating at a dining table? Photo by Nordby Design Studio, Architecture & Interiors LLC – Look for transitional dining room design inspiration If you showed up to someone’s house for dinner, and along one side of the table they had bench seating, would you think to yourself, “Ugh. That can’t be comfortable.” Photo by Gregory Carmichael – More transitional dining room ideas Would you make a mental note that you need to rush to the table when the host asks for people to be seated so that you can snag one of the chairs and not be stuck on the bench? Photo by Robin McGarry Interior Design – Search transitional dining room pictures Or would you be completely okay with bench seating, especially if they’re upholstered and soft to sit on? Photo by Reynolds Architecture- Design & Construction – Browse traditional dining room photos I’ve been trying to remember when I’ve sat on bench seating for a meal, and I can only think of one situation — during meals at a picnic table outdoors. I don’t recall ever being uncomfortable sitting at a picnic table, but comfort is also generally not at the forefront of a person’s mind when sitting at a picnic table outdoors. So I need your input, especially if you have your own experience with having dinners while sitting on bench seating, whether it’s your own home or you were a guest in someone else’s home. Would you recommend it? And keep in mind, I’m considering upholstered benches (i.e., comfy for the tush) that only seat two people, which will seemingly eliminate the need for anyone to step over the bench to be seated. Each person can just slip around the side, right? FacebookPinterestTwitterGoogleMoreEmailPrintLinkedInReddit
dining table bench seat 1

Dining Table Bench Seat

I think your idea is great! We have used a bench with our dining room table for over 20 years and it has been a wonderful option when we have all the extensions in. We have 8 chairs plus two larger upholstered chairs that are part of the mix as well. We’ve also brought in extra chairs and tables if needed. The bench typically lives against a wall under our stairs and is most often a resting place for something I need to take upstairs. But when we have a big dinner, the bench is great for fitting extra kids/teens but has worked just as well for adults over the years. We linger and talk after dinners as well and use the table for board games etc. If we use it, I usually sit on it because it is closest to the kitchen. I’ve never been uncomfortable or noticed any issues for others. Given the negative comments, it does seem to be good to have options for people that feel strongly against sitting on a bench. I wonder if adding a back to it would make it less stable and heavy to move. We generally seat elderly relatives in the upholstered chairs at the table head, but some think upholstered chairs are too heavy or cumbersome and prefer to sit in a simple chair or the end of the bench. I don’t like the cluttered look of extra chairs around and love the options a bench provides. We also have a built-in banquet in our kitchen and it is the most popular spot to hang out–even over the “comfy” chairs at the island. I would design around your every day life /preferences and include options that increase your functionality and comfort for times that you entertain. Your bench idea seems like a great option for these occasions. I seriously doubt you will have a stampede to your table fighting over who sits where!
dining table bench seat 2

Dining Table Bench Seat

Growing up, our kitchen table had chairs on three sides and a bench on the fourth. The bench was popular seating now just for the kids but also the adults and people loved to sit there. Scanning through other comments, I think its important to note that our bench had a back (although it was hard wood and not upholstered). I think the back was key since it made the bench more comfortable to everyone and also “fancied” it up as compared with a picnic bench. One benefit to a bench is that, depending on age and size, more people can be comfortably fit onto a bench to add extra seating whereas only one person will ever sit in a single chair. For example, we could easily (and comfortably) seat 4-5 kids on the bench vs 2-3 adults.
dining table bench seat 3

Dining Table Bench Seat

We built a banquet (I call it a bench seat) under 6ft window in our dining area, and then designed a table to match the space with it. The bench seat will be cushioned (when I get around to sewing those!), seats 2 EASILY, 3 still very comfortably. If it were small kids, I could easily see even more seated there since it’s the full 6ft long. Around the rest of the table we have 4 chairs. We’ve had guests who want to sit on the bench, but if they don’t we are happy to take those spots and leave the chairs for everyone else. Considering our alternative when we we had just chairs only was a small table that seated maybe 3 people (4 was really pushing it), the bench drastically increases our seating capacity, but we do keep in mind that for older guests they generally want to have a nice solid back to lean against. Since ours is a window, it’s a pretty long lean back if you want any support when you’re seated on the bench and we don’t like to encourage it.

Dining Table Bench Seat

Dining Table Bench Seat
Dining Table Bench Seat
Dining Table Bench Seat