May 23, 2017
Far from casual breakfast nooks operating as second eating areas, these glamorous banquettes set the scene for upscale dining worthy of a Michelin star. Along with creating an attention-getting feature in a house, apartment or hideaway, a built-in dining nook can be a space-efficient way to gather as a family or entertain a crowd. See how the designers of these stunning homes have worked in dining areas that deliver. You might be tempted to find a way to include one at your house.
Retro reimagined. Architects have to be especially creative when working within the confines of a small site, and that was true when designing this Sydney terrace house. Economy of space was paramount in the open-plan dining, kitchen and living area, but the dining area also had to fit in with the sophisticated aesthetic of the rest of the home.
The solution? A built-in dining nook inspired by iconic designer Eileen Gray’s Bibendum chair. Architect Luigi Roselli says the nook was “easy to draw but difficult to execute,” with the sculpting of the foam stuffing and double curving at the ends proving challenging for the upholsterer. The stained American oak cabinetry continues into the adjoining kitchen and reappears throughout the home.
American-style diner. The owners of this meticulously restored 1939 Art Deco home in Adelaide, Australia, enjoy their personality-filled kitchen and dining area for meals, reading the paper over a cappuccino and croissant or gathering with friends for drinks.
The diner-style nook makes efficient use of the space and ties in with the streamlined curves that emerged in American design in the ’20s and ’30s. Baby blue was one of the popular colors of the time, so the kitchen drawer and door fronts were painted in Hazy Daze from Dulux, and the booth upholstery was selected to match. Around the edge of the floor (commercial-grade Marmoleum vinyl), a black line mimics the shapely kitchen and dining nook, a move repeated in the upholstery piping.
By the beach. This colorful apartment, located across the road from Sydney’s Manly Beach with enviable ocean views, has a vintage coastal vibe and a “kick off your shoes and relax” feel about it, just as the owners intended. The beach pad is used by a young family of seven on weekends and holidays, so the space had to be carefully planned to accommodate this many people comfortably. Designer Brett Mickan used playful, bold colors (Sealegs and Pale Tendril by Dulux) to focus attention on the views, furniture and art.
The banquette seating not only makes the best use of the available space, it adds interest and creates less visual noise than a table surrounded by chairs. The practical vinyl upholstery blends into the wall and adds to the vintage vibe, as do the four original Bentwood chairs around the table. Oval is always a wise choice for dining nooks to allow for ease of access and to avoid knocked knees.
New York state of mind. Why show decorating restraint if you don’t have to? This five-story New York townhouse on Manhattan’s West Side embraces the owner’s flamboyant taste with clashing prints, bold colors and striking artwork. A banquette upholstered in white velvet is in keeping with the over-the-top aesthetic, but its neutral tone allows the other elements to shine. Retro, dramatic lighting sets off the dramatic but tasteful decor.
Midcentury modern. Banquette seating and midcentury style often go hand in hand, and in the case of this linear new home on Australia’s Gold Coast, the pairing is a perfect match. This restaurant-style dining area offers a cozy spot to gather in an otherwise open-plan design.
Hollywood glamour. Where better to embrace Hollywood glamour than Hollywood itself? The tech entrepreneur owner of this hideaway in the Hollywood Hills had an impressive collection of artwork and engaged interior designer Caitlin Murray to draw inspiration from it to give his midcentury-style bachelor pad a unique new look.
The dining area doubles as a breezeway leading to the outdoors, the pool and views of Los Angeles, making it a natural drawing card. Murray says people also gravitate to banquette-style seating, a cozier and somehow more sociable setup than table and chairs. Eccentric but upscale, the dining area features an artwork that’s a still from the movie "Jaws."