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Mountain House Monday: An Update on the Dining Banquette + Ask the Audience


There is a new name for me that I read in a self-help book—I’M SORRY I GUESS WE SAY “SELF-IMPROVEMENT” BOOK—a “pre-crastinator.” I pull triggers almost too fast, making seemingly rapid decisions perhaps without all the information. No one is shocked here. It’s one of the secrets to my success and how I get so much done, but it also has produced mistakes, waste and thus anxiety. Using the mantra “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no” has helped a lot, but right now we are gearing up for the huge shoot at the mountain house, 6 weeks away and 2 of those weeks I’ll be in Atlanta. So most of the long lead stuff HAS to get done ASAP and decisions have to be made. Today’s big decision: the dining banquette.

My dreams of having the world’s most comfortable dining banquette are coming true. After thinking that we needed to “use the space properly” with the dining table floating in what is obviously the dining area, we realized that we really just want to be sitting by the window on basically a sectional sofa. This nook will get so much conversational use, in addition to the typical “eating” that it’s worth changing it all up.

Here’s how it was:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room Rectangle Table

We put that dining table outside now, and we brought in the obviously too-small Tulip table while our custom table is made by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber.

But the question is about the cushions:

What style of cushion? Do we have a back cushion? Which fabric? Leather? Vinyl? Poly-linen? Do we have piping? Do we do something hip and cool (okay grandma) or something simple with more flexibility?

So let’s check out what we are working with here:

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First off, the base and the table will both be built by Ross Alan, experts of the most wonderful reclaimed wood in LA, possibly the world (they did all that gorgeous wood you saw in the kitchen reveal from a few weeks back). In continuing with our seamless look, we basically designed the built-in seat to be continuous from the floor, in the same wood.

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We have flip-top storage for seasonal things or boring things like extra cleaning supplies, but for now, the kids are hiding in them which I can’t blame them. We don’t really need the storage but seems crazy to not have the option.

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If you are worried about the person in the middle, against the window, who will be trapped by 3-4 people, don’t be—we will choose only those with the largest bladders or willingness to crawl under the table without complaining. Listen, we know that this is going to be annoying for some people the few times that we have a large group, but we are choosing this anyway. The cozy, comfort is worth it to us on a day-to-day basis. It’s like how we chose a wall of windows versus the typical work triangle in the kitchen, it’s all about what you value and by the way, that is also not annoying at all and was totally worth the two more steps I have to take to get ingredients.

Stylistically, I want to do something cool and interesting, obviously, why not? But I’m kinda running out of time to design something that we’ve never seen before and I also don’t want to do something too trendy. But I’m inspired by the below:

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image source | design by giancarlo valle

How awesome is that? But frankly I don’t know how to do that, nor do I think it’s necessarily right for the space but the idea is that I really WANT to do something amazing. One thing that I’m realizing is making the above slightly cooler is that the cushion isn’t exposed on the side – wood is covering it. Now, we would have to add that because ours isn’t built like that, so it seems kinda unnecessary. I also like how there is no top seam. Interesting…

But that cushion is taking up extra space due to the design and while ours is 24″, I don’t want to give up 8″, to do something like that. Additionally, what I’m compelled by is the two-tone aspect of it, something that I tried to convince my friend of two weeks ago while we were up there with fabric swatches, but that was before we found this inspiration shot…

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image source | design by biasol

So cool, but lacking the comfort that I want. Now we did think about doing a larger version of this, with a wood frame or a double version of this and if you guys are like “YEAH DO THAT” I’ll reconsider. But it also might look silly and try-hard. It’s cool here because it contrasts so well against the dark wood and the chunky real wood bench.

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image source | design by brooke spreckman @brookespreckman

Now this trend is still huge, but due to the height of the windows we don’t have the space for it, nor do I think that designing a hanging back cushion is right this late in the game (I still really really like it, but it’s certainly been seen a lot lately so seems silly to start now). But I DO like that once again, no top seam!!!

You really have to stare and analyze photos to figure out what exactly you like about them. It’s not just the hanging back, it’s not just the two-tone, it’s the lack of seams and that the bench cushion is floating in a bit and not too chunky.

image source | design by nam dang-mitchell design

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Let’s just say we forego the back cushion in favor of pillows. When we were up there, I threw a bunch down and it was so cozy and allowed for a lot of flexibility.

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image source | design by amber interiors

But am I as wowed by that idea? Not as much, but there is more opportunity for texture and pattern and styling and comfort. We made it deep enough that we can have large pillows to help anchor.

photo by tessa neustadt | from: griffith park sunroom reveal

We could also do what we did in this Griffith Park house: a big bolster in the back and then layered on more pillows. We could even do a version of this that is a tapered triangle pillow that leans back but adds some support.

I LOVE the one below, but fear that if we tuft it like that, it’s not washable, but maybe it is?

image source

That’s my issue with the French mattress style, too—I want to be able to zip off and wash.

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image source | design by cm studio

So let’s talk fabrics that we are thinking about:

Leather: We would need a lot of hides and I’d likely only fall in love with the most expensive leather out there. The pros of leather include durability but as my friend David (from MidcenturyLA) just disclosed to me, the pretty matte leather actually stains REALLY bad and any oil becomes a very noticeable stain. Yes, it will patina but it might take years. The leather that wipes up really clean is really shiny. ALSO, we don’t think we want dark. My initial idea was a forest green leather but Brian Henderson nixed that hard and fast saying “dining banquettes are already kitschy, so doing it in a green leather could look really dated.” I don’t necessarily agree, I think he needs better inspiration references, but I like when people take things OFF the table. Once I put all the light tones up there I realized that I do want it to be relatively light, and I just can’t picture a light leather. That sounds scary to me, but maybe a light gray? So right now unless I found the perfect leather that I can afford, we are leaning away from leather.

Est Living William Smart Interview Regent St Dining Anson Smart
image source | design by william smart

This is so pretty and even the light brown leather on the wood could be SO PRETTY. Oh no. I think I might have just convinced myself to at least shop for leather.

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image source | design by marc houston

Vinyl: I mean, how rarely have you found a vinyl that you LOVE? Sure, it can absolutely be so functional and simple and therefore not bad, but it doesn’t feel totally right and not something that I’d love.

Vegan leather: Looking for sources and researching about options. If anyone knows anything about this— durability, cost, etc.—please weigh in in the comments.

A textile with pattern: Nope. I don’t really want a busy pattern to hide grossness. I want simplicity and calmness, at least for the base.

Est Living Interiors Myra House Los Angeles 1
image source | design by gordana golubovic

A poly-blend stain resistant fabric like Crypton or others: I have a whole box of Crypton and have even made a few selections that are a medium gray with enough texture to hide a bit. Then we’d do the back pillows in a mixture of lights and mediums whites, grays and blues.

Jeremiah Brent Nyc Apartment 05
image source | design by jeremiah brent

There are just too many ways to skin a cat, especially when you are kind of in a rush. The simplest thing to do is to get the medium toned gray (with texture) stain-resistant fabric that is really pretty and cozy and have a bench seat made without the top seam, out of a cushy foam and feather mix (so it has some give and isn’t that really TIGHT look). Then play with a ton of pillows to see if A. that looks good (or just messy) and B. if it’s comfortable enough. I can alway ADD a back cushion later. Either way, I’d make it washable with a zipper. I’m even debating getting two sets made to have seasonal options and because I’M A CRAZY PERSON.

I’m new to the banquette world. I’ve never had two kids and a banquette before. Am I crazy to not splurge on leather that will be durable at least for the bench? Or is a washable stain-resistant slip covered fabric in a medium tone good enough? And will the pillows annoy me with the necessary daily styling or will they bring me comfort and joy because I actually love styling?

Please weigh-in. We have to at least have the design/style chosen by Thursday before my schedule gets insane for 2 weeks and I think that per usual you guys are full of ideas I haven’t thought of or at least some banquette experience…


Sincerely, Emily “Pre-crastinator” Henderson

Fin Mark


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Ah! I LOVE the term pre-crastinator. I am one, too, currently living in Sweden and buying up the entire country via their craigslist (called blocket) because one day we will move back and I need…..x…y….z…..for our next house. I can’t wait to tell my husband I’ve got a diagnosis!!! (Sorry I’m no help in the dining department – that’s a tough call for sure!)


Do a back cushion, for sure! I have always found that much more comfortable as opposed to always having to constantly readjust the pillows at your back to get the right support… plus it sounds to me if you are going for a calming look, then a single fabric which contrasts with the seat is the way to go.


Agreed. Too many loose pillows would drive me bananas.


Definitely a back cushion! Otherwise it won’t look as ‘built-in”. But I still like the idea of throw pillows layered on top of that all in calming colors so it’s not too much. Very Hygge.


100% agreed!


Agree completely! Having to constantly adjust pillows is so annoying!


I have pillows and all I do is adjust them all day. One person sits at the table and I roll my eyes like they have personally wronged me somehow. Ha! I need back cushions!!!


Agree! Have the banquet fade away and concentrate on what’s out the windows!


I’m very excited for your banquette! The last picture, with the slightly angled back cushion looks both comfortable and beautiful with a neat profile. Regarding material, I think something washable and durable is key with kids. I’d hesitate to use leather, not just because of the difficulty to remove greasy stains, but also for scratches. On benches people tend to slide in, and I have wooden dining benches with deep scratches due to items in back pockets like keys or even the little metal snaps on jeans! You’d be crushed if you pretty buttery leather had long gauges. A banquette bench is used differently than a couch or chair and should not be too precious. For the budget of leather maybe you could instead have washable/stain resistant fabric Winter and Summer edition cushions that you’d love? Can’t wait to see what you and your talented team come up with!

Inês Seabra

I second this. I really like the look on that last picture and I think it goes with what you already have done on the banquette. All your inspiration pictures are amazing, but those last two seem to best capture the vibe I see on the mountain house.


I agree as well. Love the last picture and the idea of fabric which is way more cozy and washable than your other options.


If you upholster the back vs. only loose cushions the back could be leather – hard to stain something on the wall, right?


You don’t know little kids. They make messes in 360 degrees.

they really do … NOT TO BE TRUSTED.


I agree!


I agree too. That last pic is interesting and not trying too hard. I don’t love all the loose pillows, especially when multiple people are moving around in and out.


Love this thought too, could you do two tones with washable stain resistant fabrics? It just adds so much dimension.

Cheryl Kohan

I agree. I like the back cushions in the second to the last photo because they’re taller and would be so comfy to lean back on. It looks like you’d have the space to make them come up to the bottom of the windows. And I’m for throw pillows that you can change for the season. Or just to change colors from time to time.

Yah, you are probably right. was hoping for something SUPER COOL so i’m glad you guys are on board with just comfy, classic and simple.


You turned the awkward wall into a window, like people suggested! It makes all the difference, looks so purposeful and symmetrical!


great catch, you’re so right. the window is a huge improvement! it looks so natural in the space, i didn’t even clock it at first glance.

GAH! I forgot to mention it! it was one of those things that Julie mentioned to my contractor and we honestly didn’t even fully confirm the design but all of a sudden it was done (and we LOVE it). Great job, guys. That’s due to you … xx


What about a dark gray/almost black stain resistant fabric for the seat cushion and a nice camel leather for the back cushion? I think it’s the best of both worlds! You get the durability on the seats where you need it and the beauty of the leather on the back where it is more visible, plus it would give you the two toned look you like. I think the darker colors would contrast nicely with all the white and wood you have going on and tie in with your black hardware and lighting. Also, while I love the idea, I think the loose pillows would drive you CRAzy and it would be a constant struggle to not have it look messy. Two simple cushions upholstered in solid contrasting fabrics would give you the calm mountain scandi vibe you’re going for IMO.

that’s a great idea. We definitely considered an almost black linen for the seat and liked it….


Dark seats will show every crumb. I have 2 boys, and the 14 year old to this day drops as many crumbs now, as he did at age 4. Luckily his bench seat is an Oak church pew (no cushion) which is easy to wipe, and the floor stays cleaner. Consider this “wipeability” for your seat cushion fabric. Even if you use a dust buster, it’s not that easy to pull crumbs out of a thicker weave.


I love this idea. Dark seat and leather backrest. It will tie in nicely with your kitchen island. Also, nooooo to throw pillows. They would get really annoying scootching past, and would need constant rearrangement.


Yes I noticed that too! It makes the room seem to float almost? Love it.


Save a piece of whatever fabric you use, hem the edges, and wrap/tuck that around the cushion(s) the kids sit on. removes easily for washing, adult dinner parties, and photo shoots but gives a pretty seamless look plus kid protection for day to day. (My mom has a much less beautiful but similar banquette area in the kitchen and we all- including the grandkids- have named it “the cozy corner”. Seriously, it’s the best seat in the house!)


this is genius! ^

YES. doing this!


Better yet – sew velcro to the bottom of the seat cushion and piece of removable fabric so the removable fabric doesn’t slip and slide around when the kids do! So excited for this banquette btw – I’d do light grey so the banquette just fades into the windows / highlights the gorgeous table!


Wow, I can see how this is an overwhelming decision even without the timeline you’re on.
I can’t say much on material. I think the high contrast can be visually interesting without being busy.
As far as function day to day, especially with kids crawling side to side (because they will), having loose pillows will be annoying. They’ll fall under the table, dirty hands will touch them…


Vinyl and leather scream Denny’s and IHOP to me. I love that second to the last two pictures with the back cushion. In any event, you’ll wow us!

Ha, that’s what brian said Re Ihop. As if he doesn’t secretly just want to eat exclusively in diners anyway. You’d think he would be DOWN. Happy to take leather/vinyl off the table. Wasn’t feeling it anyway 🙂


of the photos I like Griffith park, triangle back in any material that breathes and that legs won’t stick to! Sticking to vinyl is the worst.

Pillows would frustrate me bc with kids they will ALWAYS be on the floor among the crumbs, so I’d opt for one piece cushions that are cozy without pillows.


We have a similar banquette in our mountain house that sits under a bay of windows in the kitchen/dining area. It has storage, a very comfortable custom bench cushion, and tons of pillows for back support, and it’s the most popular seat in the house. When we’re not eating the pillows make it easy to use the area for lounging and create more versatility in its function. I know it’s not as original or risky design-wise, but I think there’s a reason that look is the classic.


Alright, I vote for leather bolster (or half bolster) on the wall with the French mattress style cushion. Can’t someone conjure a French mattress style that is actually tiny pillows in between each of the seams? Perhaps a bit laborious to wash, but washable, nonetheless. Y’know what I mean? I might even say that a larger cushion, made of the same cover material, below the French mattress would be nice.

Amy C Tausk

I really like the last picture as well – I think you would definitely want back cushions and could put a few decorative pillows sprinkled around, but having so many as to fill up and go around the whole banquet does not seem to fit the clean. Scandanavian aesthetic you are going for. I love Pillows, but that just seems like a nightmare of fixing and straightening and picking up off the floor in a place that you want to be more relaxing.

I love the leather ones too, if you could find the right beautiful and durable option!


I did a similar banquette for a client a while back and have regretted it ever since. It’s super difficult to get into the middle and no one ended up using that portion of it. But maybe you will have better luck. 🙂


I Love banquets and am so excited you are doing one! My choice is a contrast seat and back cushion in a durable washable fabric


Just finished the process of adding a dining banquette in our kitchen/dining area. With 3 boys under 5, I went with a high performance faux leather vinyl……sounds awful, I know, but there were actually a lot of really great options that look and feel like leather (and are not shiny!). It’s proven to be really durable (the kids use it as their new jungle gym) and easy to clean off greasy hand prints. I think it would drive me nuts to not be able to just wipe the whole thing down. As for matte leather, our couch stains horribly….even water leaves a mark.

Whitney Olson

Can I please have your fabric sources? I have 3 girls that are rough and tumble and our banquette is taking a beating. Faux leather vinyl is what we need, but I couldn’t find non-shiny stuff.


Duralee, Robert allen, cf stinson. Lots of options in cryptons and vinyls that are soft matte faux leathers. We use the vinyl for many high end commercial applications and it fools a lot of people while being nonstainable and wipeable.


Ours was ordered through an upholsterer, so unfortunately I’m not sure where he sourced it from, but it was called the Symphony Collection – Persuasion line. There were also lines under that brand called Unagi and Vintage that had great options.


I have L banquet with removable padded seats and pillow backs. Pillows are always being adjusted by those in center seats. Recommend padded back cushions plus few pillows for style and comfort. Get two sets of covers to change out on whim or necessity.


I guess being the cleaner in the house, the idea of trying to clean sheepskin and a dozen or so pillows every time a toddler eats there just stresses. me. out. I’m guessing there are some leather experts out there who could chime in on leather that doesn’t show oils as much as another. Or maybe you could find an old distressed leather couch and repurpose. Mandi from Vintage Revivals did this for some project or another. And what about outdoor fabric? Is it pretty enough?

The crypton is basically even better than outdoor fabric so it would work. Oh and yah, NO sheepskin. I just threw that up there, but hell no. 🙂

Paula Carr

Thanks for mentioning Mandi. I’ve bookmarked her!


Yes to a back cushion. Also, think about comfort. The constructed benches don’t seem angled for foot and knee comfort so you may want the cushions to be angled to make up for this issue.

Julie P

Yes this. To be most comfortable you needed to have the front of the bench extend slightly farther forward than the base to allow your heels to have room. I agree having a cushion extend beyond the edge of the bench might help solve this problem.


I agree that having the seat somehow extend over the base would make it much more comfortable for long sits! My MIL has benches like these that go straight to the floor, and I always accidentally bang the backs of my heels against them because I guess I naturally enjoy sitting with my feet somewhat tucked underneath. Most of the above inspo images have some foot room underneath, but not all of them, so maybe an extended seat cushion will remedy! And per your question, I’d go with a faux leather that’s easy to wipe up (they make some so nice looking these days!)

OH man. I didn’t even think of this. hmm.. we’ll think about it and see if we have room to adjust. thank you!


You should be able to just create larger box lids to the banquette boxes (Eg less than 6 inches extension) and the base will support the addition extension but provide the “kick your heels back” space”. Gets a little interesting around the bends but I’m sure the carpenter can figure it out.


Love the banquette and doing one in my house too. I say crypton fabric all the way! It washable, beachable and more comfortable. I would think the streamline clean look of a back cushion is more Scandinavian in asthetic but there’s nothing saying you can’t add pillows if you have a back cushion. Mandy Moore’s (designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel) builtin in couch is my inspiration for the banquette I’m building. I want total cush. I plan on spending long mornings reading in the morning light while my hubs makes waffles. Also maybe consider having the table on hidden casters so you could roll it out of the way for easy access to storage and cleaning.


That’s what I was thinking! If the table is on casters you could also push it out a bit for people to get in and out. You may or may not ever actually do that, but why not have the option? And it’s a GREAT idea for being able to clean and access the storage. I vote for faux leather if there’s a good looking option. I vote for bench and back cushion with throw pillows that you can add or take off if they get annoying.


All those back cushions seems like a nightmare to me. Kids will be wiping their hands on them and throwing them all over the place.

loveley of

I don’t understand all the “top seam” talk. What is this?

also, I love all these inspiration pictures so much! I want a banquette now!


My parents had a custom banquette with upholstered seat cushions and throw pillows for the back at their last home. My kids loved it, but scooting in and out made the cushions slide (which annoyed me that they had to be adjusted all the time). The kids ALWAYS moved the pillows, and my daughter was small enough that she needed to sit on her knees to reach the table. I agree with the folks who say no to the leather seat – would look beautiful, but would generate too much stress with stain worries. (Banquette seats aren’t very accessible for quick cleaning in case of a spill.) Older guests and those with back trouble loved the throw pillows to give them adjustable support. I look forward to seeing the final product!


Oh I had forgotten how annoying it was to have those seat cushions slide around too!


This is what I used for a bench seat cushion with a mix of throw pillows up top:

custom cushion by sarasamdesign on Etsy

It has worn well, considering daily constant abuse by two active kids and a dog. But it is thin and comfortable!

Since you have storage and no toe kick I would pay a lot of attention to dimensions that will enhance comfort ie: something that will give the proper back angle/support and even a bench cushion that will not be too fat so your legs can’t reach the floor, etc, especially once you have a larger table. I think too many throw pillows will make it a lot less functional (although will look pretty for a photo shoot as a short term solution, but not for daily use). The first thing anyone does is remove the throw pillow, then seat themselves. Just some food for thought.


Love the banquette. I’m building out on myself. I think krypton is the way to go. It beachable, washable and wears well; plus they have beautiful textures even velvet. I think the back cushion not only goes better with your Scandinavian aesthetic but is would be more comfortable. You could have pillow with a cushion too! my inspiration is Mandy Moore’s built in couch designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel. I want mine to be so comfortable that I could lounge there for hours upon hours reading and watching my hubs make me breakfast. Also I would suggest putting the table on hidden casters so you could more easily roll the table out for easier access to storage and for cleaning.

Sherrie S

A sunbrella or crypton fabric with zippers that is washable while kids are little. When they grow big enough to WIPE their hands – you can always reupholster. With leather or silk for that matter. NO fabric is forever in a kitchen. Just pick something for the next 5 years and move on….


That banquette looks amazing! What about a high performance suede like sensuede? Comes in pretty much every color, and it’s stain/water resistant so it’s perfect for kitchens & has a softness that you cant get from vinyl.


For the dining table, would it be possible to do two tables so you could have an opening down the middle? That way guests sitting along the back wouldn’t have to scoot so much. And the tables could be pushed together for photos as needed.

For the banquette fabric, I have a commercial space with banquettes (it’s an event space so loads of eating and drinking) and we used two fabrics- a Pindler vinyl for the back and matching velvet for the bottom. We wanted monochrome color with textural interest and we chose to put the cozy fabric on the bottom where your legs might touch it. The vinyl has held up perfectly for 4 years. We did have to replace the original velvet with a Crypton velvet which still looks great after 18 months of use.


Yes! I’ve seen a banquette table that had access to the back seats with a fold down table leaf.


Do upholstered wall mounted cushions under each window with no seams on the top (I’m picturing almost like… mini headboards?) and then one long connected bench cushion with as few and flat seams as possible for crumb control in a heathered gray for minor stain hiding but still that light look. Good luck! Can’t wait to see what you end up doing.


I second the wall mounted cushion suggestion! And I think you can get the vibe of your favorite in the first picture this way if you do a dark bench cushion and a lighter wall mounted cushion. I have a banquet that came with our house. It is vinyl and though I hate the look of this vinyl, it is so easy to clean. A clean banquet, even if ugly, is more welcoming, than a banquet with a bunch of pillows slipping around and crumbs hiding everywhere. Recently I have sat on really buttery, leather-like vinyl at a few restaurants and we are looking into reupholstering our banquet with that. Love Mondays at the Mountain House!


I agree too – my grandmother had banquette seating for the breakfast nook in her kitchen, loose cushions slide around, fall on the floor, hard to get them to give you enough support, etc. You can have a few in one washable color for those who really need it but day-to-day I’d rely on essentially upholstery.


We spec faux leather all the time for high-end corporate and hospitality projects at my firm. There are so many really great options these days and you can’t beat the look, the price point or the animal-friendly aspects. Check out Mayer Fabrics “Antique Leather” and “Antique Leather II” or Steelcase’s “Brisa” line.

Victoria Smith

Go with the gray-hides-everything fabric over leather – bc while a light leather banquette is super gorgeous, a soiled leather banquette is super disgusting. You will NOT be happy with the result of sticky hands and you just don’t want to think about that when you’re lounging in your light, you know? My two cents.


Kinda digging the Griffith Park look / combo the best.


Ugh–having to order a custom slipcover a sofa on a tight deadline myself–anyone have sources for washable fabric? The stain resistant ones I’m finding seem to be dry-clean only…?

Good luck with the banquette! If you are in the hugest rush, grab 3 cotton quilts, wrap them around seat cushions with Velcro on the bottoms. Soft, washable, effortlessly casual, any color you want. Temporary if you like, but can but also look v. cool (and cozy).


Tonic Living has a high performance fabric that you can clean red wine and permanent marker off that’s not dry clean only –


We have a banquet in our kitchen and two small kids. For the time being I have not had any cushions made. We just have a variety of pillows I made covers for to lean against. Our kids spill so much food/milk/paint on those seats that I can’t bring myself to pay for the cushions yet. Maybe when they are teenagers I will get around to it.


Same and we don’t even have a banquet- just a beautiful vintage dining set from my parents with horrible stained upholstery on the seats from my kids just being normal kids. I am waiting until they’re teenagers to re-upholster in something beautiful because I don’t trust them for the next 10 years.


100% back cushion! Pillows look so traditional and add unnecessary volume. Personally love the two tone look with darker backrest from the first inspiration photo. Very strong contrast will act as the “eyeliner” for your windows. I think it’s also worth investigating vegan leather or vintage leather options (How cool would be a modern linear leather patchwork? Is anyone doing this?). Can’t wait to see the full room reveal. Good luck!


Love the light linen look but sticky handed little ones… more durable and leather looking this a commercial grade material that feels buttery soft, is breathable, wipeable, and available in so much colors


Also if there is a way to incorporate a large scale plaid, maybe only for cooler months but… gives all the cozy feels!


NO real leather!


I like the style of the one in the last picture. Clean lines and yet looks comfortable.


Leather or faux leather in a neutral colour (is go for tan or brown) on the seat and wall. You want to be able to wipe up spills and crumbs with a sponge. And a bunch of throw pillows with washable covers and throws to change up the look from season to season. Easy.

Kathy H.

Totally agree, Mary! Seeing forest green leather in my favorite New Zealand shoe shop…lovely. But if that’s off the table, buttery blue/gray? Cushions always slide off. Nice to have a tight cushion.


Love the French mattress inspiration picture and think it best captures the Scandi-style. You could do a similar thin & cushy attached bench cushion in a cleanable fabric (doesn’t necessarily need to be French mattress even though I love that style it might be too much of a crumb collector ?) with a leather attached wall cushion with a few throw pillows/skins for everyone to use for different tastes in comfort and support. Also, a moveable table would make it even easier to get in and out of the middle seats.


I think you are planning on this being your main family gathering place eventually/sometimes, for the long-term. Please do consider sufficient back support or at least some comfortable chairs on the non-banquette end for your older guests. All is well and good with short bolsters/random throw pillows until you are age 50+ and/or have any back issues at all. Then your cozy, hang out table becomes a dine and dash location.


This. I’m not even old and this whole setup looks like a back support nightmare. The only one pictured I think I would enjoy sitting on for any length of time is the William Smart.

Do yourself a favor and go sit on something approximating your desired setup for 2+ hours – then decide.


I would say absolutely a wall pillow and not all those throw pillows (it’s so annoying to place them and the first thing people do is move those around and away), it’s just not a clean look. I just replaced my white linnen chairs for two black leather ones and it was the best decision ever. Black leather (or faux leather) as the seat cushions (no stains will be seen) with a lighter back cushion will be gorgeous. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.


When I had my banquette cushion made, I found this fabric that looks 100% like distressed leather (taupe) now that it’s installed. I have no idea what it is though. It’s not vinyl or vegan leather. It’s actually pretty thin (which is how I could tell the difference IRL), so I was worried about durability, but the manufacturer assured me it was virtually indestructible. Two years later it looks exactly the same. I don’t have kids, but I do have two dogs who like to jump on the bench when the table is in desk mode (versus dining mode). Long story, but moral is… keep looking.

Also, please don’t leave the bench bare. Nobody wants to sit on wood for more than 20 mins. But I think the sheepskin plus throw pillows looks mighty cozy. And it’s more flexible for people of different sizes than a built in back cushion.


Btw, I think wall mounted back cushions are just as uncomfortable as no back cushions when they aren’t angled. You need a 12 degree angle to be able to lean back.


Your fabric sounds like a heavily distressed and wax-coated canvas… I had entirely forgotten these exist and they’re AWESOME. Also, I see a bunch of comments asking for the difference between vinyl and vegan leather. I have a big box of them in my samples library right now and the technical difference is (ready for it…): better PR. It’s doves versus pigeons. They are both engineered, fabric-backed leather imitations, most often made from PVC. Something that’s bothering to market itself as vegan leather is more likely to be a higher-end material, possibly made with earth-friendlier materials, but there’s nothing that guarantees it. Two terms for the same jimmy-jam. Vinyl can be quite high-quality and low- or zero-VOC, depending on the content, but there are a lot of bad associations for people with the term. Companies that are making a higher-quality product now want to keep their customers open minded, so they rebrand. It’s smart, because the higher-end stuff really truly is a different beast! There are some fantastic options out there, all of which are less expensive than leather. Also, because they come on standard size rolls, it’s much easier to cover a large item like a banquette without seams.… Read more »


The last inspo pic has my vote 🙂


I like the Amber Interiors seat cushion best. Is a dark very thin leather seat cushion like hers really out of the question…? Black would look great there and you can keep everything else light. I’m sure it wouldn’t add too much visual weight if kept thin and it’ll be obscured by the table in parts too. And tie in with the thin black lines of the lighting and art. I would also PROcrastinate on the back cushion so you can reassess once the seat cushion and table are in. That’s if it doesn’t drive up the price too much to separate the job


As a confirmed pre-crastinator, I feel all this. Brian is right–some of these images do look dated but could be ok? I would be afraid of running that risk. Personally, I think of the logistics involved with tons of pillows. Where do they go when you’re eating? In the banquette? What if someone is already sitting down? And you have to move the base cushion? Also–tons of throw pillows with kids eating in the same area seems like mess and trouble to me. I think I’d do a leather base and nubbly textured grey back cushion like the barred and belted image above but without the bar and the leather strap. That back cushion will get dirty, and the option to wash it appeals. Good luck. I can’t wait to see what you decide!


just a random thought and i have no knowledge of costs of leather (which i love) but there’s gotta be some lonely leather couch cushions out there that you could find and re-purpose. But the time frame would be an issue, i guess. I do love a cozy banquette! something durable and washable would still be fantastic! Cant wait to see what you decide!

Lisa VanDoorne

My 2 cents as an upholsterer with a home studio: Upholster the bench seat (ala: the Amber Interiors photo above) instead of creating loose covered box cushions. That expansive curve will require several box cushions and that can be a pain with people sliding in and out. Use the linen blend to resist stains. For the back, upholster back rests, but mount them simply without the leather straps. I think you’ll be happiest with a carefree set-up here so you can focus on a beautiful table.


Yes to an angled back cushion and love the point made above about avoiding seams on the seat. Yes to crypton fabric in two-tone which would mirror the kitchen. I like the idea of black linen look. I also can’t help but picture adding some cushy oversized (to avoid the twee) pillow cushions as a winter look or when there are fewer people in the house. They can store in your bench area when not in use, but could be a warming, styling touch for seasonal changes. But when there are many people, its summer and kids – adjusting pillows will just be annoying. If you don’t angle the back cushion then maybe a bolster style cushion can provide that lower back support? Again, something that can be stored when you want. Can’t wait to see what you do.


I think this might be a moment for two looks- the first is everyday, easy care, mom doesn’t have to lift a finger for it to look put together, and the second is layered over the simple base for photos shoots, parties, etc. I would begin with the zip off, stain resistant, medium tone fabric seat cushions. Could you do a cushion like the leather strapped versions, but anchor to the wall without the strap, like the bolster? I love the look, but agree it’s trendy and been done already, but so has the bolster (remembering Brady’s headboard among others). Morphing the two would give you the seamless look, without the fuss. For days that call for more styling, you could layer in like you did on the benches flanking the fireplace in the old house. It’s an opportunity for a little weird when you want it.

Ashley Masset

My mom has a super comfy banquette in the kitchen. It lived well and unstained for years. And then I had kids. And now they are completely stained. She’s waiting until they grow out of wiping hands on the cushions age to recover them, but yeah. I feel bad. Maybe just accept that what you use now isn’t going to be the “forever” option.


I pre-crastinated the other day buying a large antique credenza sight unseen from a designer in SF that hadn’t disclosed alllll the issues/ damage it had. Thankfully, they refunded the sale but I still had to foot the bill for the movers I paid to get it to my house. I found someone on Craigslist to come pick it up for free (having listed off the laundry list of problems that made it much more of a project than originally described). I am only an hour from SF so should’ve just made the trip up and seen it in person but I was wrapped up in to-do’s. ALAS! It can be such a dance. Good luck choosing a solution!

Andrea Dvorak

The only comment/worry I have for you is not focusing enough on comfort – the function you want here, the way it’s laid out, is to be uber comfy – I think if it is, you will have family/friends hanging around this table for hours and it will feel cozy, like no one wants to leave – which I think is what you are going for. If it isn’t comfy, everyone will THINK they want to do that when they see your dining room, but folks will get backaches and have to stand up, and folks will move to other rooms, it will become a dead corner in your mountain house! #sad So Focus on COMFORT!

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