It's a Banquette, Baby!

Did you know that "banquette" is pronounced "ban-ket"? Well I didn't. Not until I'd gone around telling everyone I was building a "banquet" for a while and getting funny looks. Although I'd like to say we've been planning a fancy banquet (mmm, food), we have actually just been pining after what Merriam Webster describes as "a built-in, usually upholstered bench along a wall." Like this:

Source: via Carolyn on Pinterest
Love the whole color pallet

and this, which was made out of cabinets from IKEA:
                                                              Source: via Carolyn on Pinterest

And I like the tall cabinets that almost reach the ceiling on this one:
                                                                    Source: via Carolyn on Pinterest

I didn't even think this was going to be a possibility in our space. We have a tiny house with just a little bump-out to serve as our dining room. (Please ignore the miss-matched chairs. I was in the middle of painting them.)
But, then I took a second look. If you can see beyond the cluttered space, the gazillion of plants (hey, it's the only room in our house where plants don't die!), and the hodge-podge of colors, perhaps you can envision a cute little banquette sitting along the far wall where the black chest stands. Even though we'd be adding a rather substantial piece of furniture to the space, I thought it might actually make the space feel bigger and more balanced, especially if said banquette was white and tall on both ends.

It might take a little bit of imagination to picture it, but to help you out (and to help us out) we taped an outline on the floor.

The area that juts out a little is where the tall cabinet will stand (there's another one on the other side) and the space in between will be the bench part.

Initially we planned on finding some short cabinets (like the kind that go over the fridge) at IKEA or a local handyman store like BMO (Builder's Material Outlet), which is how Pinterest photo #2 above was made, but what we found was even better (and cheaper!).

A toy box!
Well, two toy boxes, to be precise. We found them at BMO for $20 a pop, and they happened to be just the right size to fit in that nook, and the perfect bench height for sitting at a table. (3' long, 19" deep, and 18 5/8" tall)

You might think all we needed to do to "assemble" the chests was anchor them in place. But in order to ensure everything was anchored evenly to the back wall, we started by pulling up the old trim, which was easy enough. Evan just used a hammer and a putty knife. A little tap-tap-tappy, and we were good to go.

We snagged two tall cabinets from Menards for $250 a piece. We looked at BMO and Home Depot, but the ones at Menards were the right dimensions (most others were too shallow, wide, or expensive) and they were already white - bonus!

But alas, there were a few flaws where the pieces joined together. At first we were discouraged and wanted to return them, but the friendly man at Menards gave us a nice discount instead ($70 off). I'll take saved money over perfect cabinets any day, especially when we can just doctor these up with a little spackle and paint.

Even though these cabinets were almost the perfect dimensions, there was about an inch of space left on either side once we lined everything up along the wall. Not a big deal, especially since you don't really see the space unless you stick your head way over there. But for the sake of keeping everything seemless and to ensure little pieces of dirt, paper, food - whatever - don't find their way back there, we decided to cover it up with a thin strip of molding. We found some L-shaped molding at Home Depot for a few bucks a piece that we nailed into the wall with tiny finishing nails, and then just pushed the cabinet up to the edge sticking out.

Next, we anchored all cabinets into the back wall.  We used a stud finder to locate the studs and screwed the cabinets directly to the wall instead of using anchors.

We used 2 1/2 inch screws... about 16 per cabinet.

But of course, before sealing up that corner of our wall forever, we first had to leave our mark
My sister Sarah lived with us last summer and is a frequent guest/house-project-helper, so we thought it only fitting she sign our wall too. Just a little surprise for a future home-owner to discover some day.

Now on to the bench! First we set everything in place so we could visualize and make a plan. We knew we didn't want the chest completely flush against the wall, because otherwise we wouldn't be able to open the lid as it would dig into the wall. The solution? Inserting some 2x4s as little extenders.

Which we then covered with a cut piece of white particle board (bought and cut to size at Home Depot)

It might serve as a little space to balance back pillows too!

Here you can see how this solved our door-opening problem. Notice the slight overhang?

But that was just the plan. Now time to dig in and get dirty!

Evan glued the boards into the wall using liquid nails (oops, see the hole in the drywall?!) and then screwed them in at an angle for extra security. And yes, we did cover up an outlet in the process. We considered leaving an opening in the back of the chest so we could still have access to the outlet, but there already are two other outlets in that small room, which we figured is enough. We did mark the location of the outlet on the inside of the chest though, in case we ever get desperate and want to cut through to use it.

And ta-da! Everything is in place.

Isn't it amazing what paint can do? I also repainted the window frame and the surrounding floor boards as they were still a funny off-white color from the previous owners.

We plan on getting a larger, chunkier wood table some-day down the line, but for now this table works pretty well. I tossed one of our outdoor pillows on the bench to see what it would look like.

And I decided, to keep everything streamlined, I really needed to paint that back wall to match the rest of the room. You can see I'm playing with curtain ideas (that's just a tablecloth hanging there, but I love the yellow color!). 
The painted chairs were another project we tackled earlier this fall (I'll have to share that later). I know it's kind of funky, but I love how they add some dramatic color to the otherwise pretty neutral-colored space.

Here's some more pictures in daylight

You can see some future toe-board pieces on the ground there

That is most definitely my desk chair taking it up a notch at the table. I'm trying out an exercise ball in the office ... so far so good. Hard to resist bouncing.

My favorite breakfast spot in the house (especially once I get around to making a cushion)

I owe you a chair-painting story one of these days.

In this picture you can see some of the spaces we need to cover up, like the crack between the two chests. We're thinking we'll use some sort of pencil trim and then paint it all white. But thankfully this is usually covered up by the table.

Next up?
-adding toe-boards under the cabinets (in process right now)
-adding cute little knobs to the cabinets for some personality (will check out Anthropology)
-adding a few more shelves (they only came with two each) by cutting laminate boards to fit at Home Depot and painting, if need be
-covering up gaps between bench and cabinet, back of cabinets and wall, etc. with thin trim
-consider adding wainscoting somewhere, just because I love it and it has yet to make an appearance in our house
-curtains (make or buy)
-cushion for bench (I have to buy a sewing machine first!)
-new chandelier (or paint this one?) and swag it so it hangs above table (my dad hit his head about 10 times when he was visiting over Thanksgiving)
-Chunky wooden table (we're watching Craigslist like hawks!). I'd love to have nice wood instead of always having to use tablecloths to cover the cheap laminate. But we basically got our current table for free, so I can't complain.
-and hopefully someday we'll re-do our kitchen so we can get rid of our ugly and cumbersome - yet very useful - portable dishwasher.

But for now, I'm going to relax in my favorite nook!
(pillows from Restoration Hardware a few years ago when my sister worked there)

Perhaps some day I will serve a banquet on our banquette! Now wouldn't that be nice. I'll invite you over and we can practice saying ban-ket while sipping tea and savoring crum-pets!

1 comment:

  1. You probably explained all of this during our Thanksgiving visit, but I can't recall due to all those chandelier collisions! Please do that swag project next! Great entry -- love to see the behind the scenes details!


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