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Banquette Seating Guide

banquette-seating

Banquettes are seating units which are usually built in and are particularly popular in restaurants and cafes. They are usually, but not always, built against a wall.  Alternative names include fixed seating, booth seating and bench seating.

Banquettes are an excellent solution for unusual niches, can add character or quirkiness to an interior design and can be a more practical solution than individual chairs. They can often help to maximise seating capacity in a hospitality space and can be used as a dividing feature. Sitting on a wide banquette seat can also be more comfortable than sitting on a chair.

Banquette seats are inevitably upholstered, creating a wide expanse that is vulnerable to food and drink spills; with this in mind, many designers opt for upholstery which can be wiped-clean or choose patterned upholstery designs with good stain-hiding properties. Because of the generous curves inherent in most banquettes, the fabric used for upholstery should have some stretch in it, to avoid unsightly wrinkles. 

In most circumstances, banquette seating needs a pre-installation survey and needs to be installed by a professional installer – invariably there are details like skirting boards or pipes that need adjusting for.

What's the difference between banquette, booth and bench seating?

Banquette, booth & bench are all custom-built seating solutions that can be designed in a multitude of ways, so it's easy to get confused over which is which. Sometimes the names are interchangeable.

  • Banquette - A long run of upholstered seating, usually against a wall. 
  • Booth - Seating which provides an intimate area, usually consisting of two seating units facing each other with a table in the middle. 
  • Bench - A run of seating which can look more like a long sofa; can be straight or curved.

Specifying banquette seating

Banquette seating is usually built to order, from scratch, so pretty much everything is possible, at a cost; below we give guidelines from our experience.

Size
The seat height for banquettes is dependent on the chairs and tables that you pair it with. The usual depth is 470mm, though this can increase to 500-520mm if a lounge feel is required. Poseur height seats are also a popular option in nightclubs, particularly near bar areas, where customers tend to be on their feet as well as sitting. Back heights vary considerably - high-backed banquette seating can make a greater impact.

banquette-seating-poseur-height-dirty-martini

Poseur height bench seating in Dirty Martini Birmingham. Photo by Michael Franke.

Comfort
Like an upholstered chair, banquette seating can be constructed with springs (and foam) or foam on board. Sprung seating is generally a more comfortable and more expensive option. Foam on board upholstery, called ‘platform’ seating, is the cheaper choice.platform-sprung-seating-3d-diagram

Seat Style

plain back banquette in Everyman Crystal Palace

Plain Back

As it sounds, plain back is a simple, cost-effective option, giving clean, simple lines. Plain backs can be enlivened with a patterned fabric, provide detail without additional upholstery cost.

Plain back is easier to maintain as there are fewer creases for crumbs to get stuck in, or buttons to catch on clothing.

Everyman Crystal Palace pictured. Johnny Stevens Photography.

float button back banquette john lewis oxford

Button Back

Whether its deep button, float button, square stitched button back, there are many options available.

Button back is a simple way of adding more texture and breaking up the straight lines of a plain back banquette. The deeper the buttons, the greater the impression of opulence, particularly with leathers.

Float button back pictured in John Lewis Oxford. Michael Franke Photography.

fluted back banquette

Fluted Back

Fluted back is an elegant effect that adds more depth. There are many different types of flutes including Full Flute, Pocket Flute & Stitch Flute.

Full Fluted back banquette in Watergate House pictured.

Omar's Place

Roll Back

Roll back is a contemporary profile which can be customised by adding additional rolls. 

Roll back booth seating in Omar's Place, Pimlico pictured. Photo by Nicholas Worley.

settee style box arm

Settee Style Box Arm

Banquettes are often without arms, and arms can be created to match the style of the seating. Other options include Settee-Style Box Arms.  This style of arm gives a more private, enclosed feel to banquette seating. They can be padded with extra foam for extra comfort.

Box arm settee from The Fable, London pictured.

solid panel arm-booth-seating

Solid Panel Arm

A solid panel arm works particularly well for projects using booth style seating, creating a barrier between adjacent booths. A panel arm can also neatly end a run of seating. Constructed of a timber frame enclosed by timber panels, a solid panel arm can be finished in many ways.

Solid panel arm at Bouillabaisse Mayfair.

Base Style

Wildwood Worcester39-1-1

Plinths

Banquette seating is rarely upholstered down to the floor, so avoiding the lower section being damaged, primarily by mops and brooms. Plinths are probably the most popular solution for the lowest six inches or so – they look tidy and avoid dust accumulating. 

Wooden plinths at Wildwood, Worcester pictured.

turned-feet-banquette

Legs

Legs are increasing in popularity, giving a lighter, more open feel; although they do create an area difficult to clean. Leg styles include turned, square and tapering, in a plethora of finishes.

Turned banquette feet in Harvey Nichols, London. Melvyn Vincent Photography.

Additional Features

capping booth seating

Capping

Banquette seating can be topped-off using capping. This is often seen as a good way of avoiding complicated upholstery joins or gaps between the banquette and a wall or an adjacent unit.

Capping on booth seating pictured in Minerva Festival Theatre Chichester.

removeable seat banquette

Removable Seat

Removable seats are also possible. They can be useful to store things or replaced easily should the seat get stained or damaged.

Stitching

There are three main types of stitching used on banquettes:

Top Stitch - A simple line of thread which can be colour matched to material or fabric.
Saddle Stitch - Used to create subtle extra detail.
Blind Seam - A clean look unlikely to divert the eye from other design features.

types of stitching

Bespoke stitching is also available, as shown below in the diamond pattern on this banquette in Clubrooms, Gatwick Airport, illustrating the possibilities that banquette seating provides. 

bespoke stitching clubrooms gatwick Clubrooms Gatwick Airport.

To view standard options and pricing for booths and straight runs, browse banquette seating, coming soon to our website or contact the team to discuss bespoke possibilities.

With thanks to Craftwood for their expertise and contributing to this blog.

Please note that not all of the banquette seating featured in this article has been commissioned by The Contract Chair Company. Images are used for illustrative purposes only. 

Topics: Specification tips

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 26/04/19 09:24
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