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A Banquette in Your Kitchen

April 30 2010

A banquette is a cozy built-in booth seating area with a table. It’s a trend you’ll be seeing a lot more of, thanks to the downsizing of homes and the upsizing of the kitchen’s importance as a dining area, paperwork station, and entertaining area.

Think about it – when you go to a restaurant and are asked “Table or booth?,” you pick booth, right? Booths are intimate, like ice cream parlor dates, or they can be glam, like the privacy enclaves in toney restaurants and nightclubs. 

While your kitchen designer won’t think less of you for not knowing what a banquette is, you should know the latest buzzwords, so you’ll be familiar with the trends.  These trends could be the standard features of tomorrow.

Are there other decorating terms you’ve heard, but have no idea what they mean? Let’s take the mystery out of it.

Here are a few terms that can help you determine what you want so you can convey your wishes and preferences to a designer, contractor, or even to your own spouse. You can use this new vocabulary as keywords to help you in your online browsing. Just google “banquettes, images” and plenty of illustrations will pop up.

Let’s take a few trends and see if you can picture them in your mind’s eye.  

Vessel sinks – These are sinks that are art for the bath.  The sink itself is made from stone, granite, marble, travertine, onyx, copper, glass and other materials.  The variety of choices goes well beyond the familiar porcelain and offers exotic colorations and dramatic styles that enhance the bath design.  Besides the material and design choices, the one thing a vessel sink does that sets it apart from standard sinks is to sit atop the counter surface with only a small hole drilled for the drain.  Whether it’s a bowl or a square, or any other shape, the vessel sink becomes an essential design element in the overall bath design.

Convection ovens – Convection ovens aren’t new, but they are becoming standard in almost all ovens. Available in gas, electric or microwave, the function of the convection is to aid a traditional oven by circulating heated air using a fan, allowing the food to cook faster at a lower temperature yet cooking faster than the traditional oven. The microwave convection allows the speed of the microwave while retaining the ability to brown food.  A convection oven causes more even distribution of heat which allows food to warm faster and more evenly. 

Soaking tubs – This one may seem self-explanatory – can’t you soak in any tub? Yes, but what sets this tub apart is that it is deeper than a regular bath tub so that all parts of the body can get relief from stress instead of just the lower limbs.  Soaking tubs usually don’t have a shower or jets and can be designed with a seat, but they come in a variety of styles and materials.  Roman soaking tubs are fitted into a deck that you step down into.  Japanese (Ofuros) soaking tubs are crafted from Cedar or Hinoki woods and are the deepest kind of soaking tubs available. Greek soaking tubs are space-saving by being shorter in length.  Soaking tubs can easily be integrated into a bathroom, but are also found in gardens, sun-rooms and patios.

French-door refrigerators – This design has gained in popularity because of the frustration of the consumer with the difficulty of storing food in a side-by-side model.  The French doors open from the center of the refrigerator, just as French doors do in any room. The double doors open to a full width of storage that spans the width of the unit. Freezer units are designed below, with approximately 2/3 of the unit being the upper refrigerator and the 1/3 lower being the freezer.  The design still allows for ice and water dispensation at the front of the left door.  Many designs include two freezer drawers for added storage.  Stylish and practical, the French-door refrigerators are a leading change in refrigeration.

Dish drawers – Most of us have had a smaller load of dishes to do and don’t like wasting the water and electricity on such a load.  Dish drawers are half size dishwashers with full size power that can also be conveniently located at top drawer height.  They can be used as an additional dishwasher, or used in a tiny kitchen space, or double versions can take the place of the standard dishwasher.  Less bending over makes dish drawers a comfortable option for homeowners.

As you are introduced to new products like these, you’ll be glad you let these strange words enter your lexicon. Eventually, these high-end upgrades will abound in the home design marketplace, until affordable versions make their way to the mass market. And then everyone will know what a banquette is.