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Alternative Seating for Dining Rooms

Benches, Banquettes, and Settees

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When you're creating your own dining room look with a vintage table and a mix of chairs, don't forget about alternative seating options. If you have a rectangular or oval dining table, you can also incorporate a bench, banquette, or settee.

In a dining room where you frequently float the table, the look works best when you reserve the bench-style seating for just one side. That works well when you're shopping for vintage pieces at flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores, or antique malls because it's usually hard to find a matching pair.

Benches

If you opt for an actual bench, you can use everything from a park bench with a back, a rustic backless bench, or even an old church pew. The latter tend to be fairly long, so they work best with a long, narrow table.

Settees

If you're not familiar with settees, they're larger than most living room chairs, but usually smaller in both depth and length than loveseats. They frequently have decorative wood frames combined with upholstered backs and seats. Antique and vintage settees typically have arms, so make sure the arms aren't too tall for the table. If they bump the bottom of the table, the finishes on both pieces will likely end up spoiled. Because settees are traditionally used in living rooms, entries or at the foot of the bed, you'll also need to make sure the seat height works with the table. Sometimes they're too short. Most diners feel comfortable with a difference of 10 to 12 inches between the top of the seat and the top of the table.

Banquettes

Banquettes are the long upholstered seats with backs you find on each side of the table when a restaurant seats you at a booth. They're becoming more and more popular for eat-in kitchens, but they can work well in a dining room too.

If your dining room is large, your table won't look right unless you float it in the center of the space. Opt for a curved banquette you can use with an oval or round table; curved versions look better from the back that straight banquettes.

If your dining room is small, choose a banquette with a straight back and place it against the wall. Place a rectangular or square dining table in front of the banquette, and then use chairs on the other side. For the coffee shop or café look, you can even pair a straight back banquette with two small tables instead of a single large one. Square and round tables work best for the look. Place the banquette against the wall, and then position the tables in front of it so they're approximately two to five inches apart. Then, place one chair on the opposite side of each table.

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