Dining banquettes and settees and sofas – Do’s and Don’ts in 2023

designer brian patrick flynn photographer Robert Peterson house beautiful 2018 dining banquettes settees

When this issue of House Beautiful landed in my mailbox and I was struck with how pretty and minimalist the cover was. I also noted the dining settee behind the round table and just love the elegant shape which draws the eye up along the ceiling line of the room. I just love a good dining banquette, settee or sofa, don’t you?

This is the Duralee Mina settee covered in a John Robshaw fabric. * {To the Trade}

Duralee Mina settee dining banquettes settees
Duralee Mina settee

This is from designer Brian Patrick Flynn’s own home in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s a gorgeous, small house of 725 sq. ft (small homes is the theme of the issue). The pic below is from the more formal dining area (which is very near the kitchen table) and features a leather dining banquette. The banquette is listed as Duralee but I can’t find it in their catalogue, however the ottomans are Duralee’s Abbey style. * {To the Trade}

Brian Patrick Flynn House Beautiful 2018 photographer Robert Peterson dining banquettes settees sofa
Design Brian Patrick Flynn | Photo Robert Peterson | House Beautiful

Dining Banquettes or Settees – what’s the difference?

So, a banquette is usually a long, low armless sofa that is often meant to be integrated into a wall area or corner – if not actually a built-in piece it will usually look like it could be.  A settee may or may not have arms, but is more like a small sofa or large chair and can stand alone.

We have to remember that dining furniture has several specific needs and requirements. It should be comfortable. This seems obvious but get the proportions wrong and it will not be comfy, at all. Many restaurants use banquettes because despite of their built-in nature, they are actually quite flexible in how many people can be accommodated versus how much room they take up. If they don’t want you to sit comfortably and linger for hours, the back to seat proportion will be 90 degrees – which is super uncomfortable for lounging. Additionally, if the space requires one to slide in and out across several seat widths, a nubby fabric will be hard to slide across and a leather will stick to the backs of the legs of one is wearing shorts or a short skirt. Things to consider.

Fine Home Building Banquette proportions dining banquettes settees
Fine Home Building

Modern line high back dining banquette with measurements settees sofa

Let’s talk dining banquettes

One of my favorite examples of a dining banquette sofa is from the 2017 South East Show House which I featured last year. This is a formal space off the kitchen and features a sloped back with leather seat for easy clean up. The only issue one might have in this configuration is that the table legs would be underfoot when sliding across, which will likely cause a little finish damage to the legs.

SE showhouse 2017 Atlanta Homes Lauren Deloach design blue dining banquettes settees sofa
Designer Laura Deloach for South East Showhouse 2017


Are they or aren’t they?

This pretty space features a piece that could be either a banquette or settee- it has a sofa like feel, but that could be due to the width. The Saarinen oval Tulip table is perfect for use with a banquette or settee.

Photographer Jessica Glynn | Designer Ashley Waddell Courtney Whatley dining banquettes settees sofa
Designers Ashley Waddell  & Courtney Whatley | Photographer Jessica Glynn

This is the Serena and Lily Dining Banquette sofa, which they also call a bench. These are also pretty close to being more of a settee. These are pretty pieces with some good flexibility for space as it’s a modular system and has a gently sloped back for comfort. I wouldn’t recommend that table with the banquette though – while the ends look fine, the side legs are too close to the bench seat for comfort.

Serena and Lily dining banquettes settees sofa
Serena and Lily

And now for the dining settees

By nature, a settee tends to sit higher – more like a chair. Below is my own little dining settee, shown in two different settings. The first, my French Condo Kitchen which was featured in Country Woman Magazine. It was paired with a formal mahogany double pedestal table (easy access!) and chairs. I’d bought this little cane back French style settee at a local second hand shop for $100.00 and used extra fabric on hand to recover it myself.

Linda Merrill Design dining banquettes settees
Linda Merrill Design | Photo by Michael J. Lee

Here’s a better shot of the settee, now happily in my Nook Cottage dining area. Nook Cottage is 900 sq. ft. (which is why I was so happy to read all about other small stylish places in this month’s House Beautiful). You will see that I have a long narrow lumbar pillow for a more comfortable sit. It’s a little bit of a hard seat; not great for long term lounging, but it sure is pretty, isn’t it? Actually, this is one of my favorite part about dining banquettes and settees – they can be pretty little places for pillows and throws and exist simply for decoration.  Since I’m in a smaller, more casual space, I’ve paired the settee with a black 48″ round pedestal table (with one 20″ leaf when more room is needed) and velvet covered parsons chairs. The table cloth comes and goes depending on my mood.

Linda Merrill dining settee floral french dining settee
Linda Merrill Design | Photo by Michael J. Lee


Below is perfect example of getting this look in a teeny tiny space and on a budget. The simple bench seats with matching back pillows create the banquette settee effect really well. Very chic and well done.

JESSIE ARTIGUE OF STYLE & PEPPER dining banquette settee
Jessie Artique of Style & Pepper


Dining banquettes and settees can be a stylish and space-efficient addition to your dining area. Here are five tips on using a them effectively:

  1. Space Planning:
    • Consider the available space in your dining area and plan the placement of the banquette accordingly. Measure the dimensions of the banquette, taking into account not just its length and width but also the height. Ensure that there is enough space for comfortable movement around the table when people are seated.
  2. Choose the Right Style and Size:
    • Select a banquette style that complements the overall aesthetic of your dining space. Whether you prefer a classic, contemporary, or eclectic look, there are various banquette styles to choose from. Additionally, ensure that the size of the banquette is proportionate to the size of your dining table and the available space.
  3. Comfortable Seating:
    • The primary purpose of a dining banquette is to provide comfortable seating. Choose high-quality, padded cushions and upholstery for the seating area to ensure a pleasant dining experience. Consider the depth of the seat and the height of the backrest to provide proper support. This will encourage longer, more enjoyable meals.
  4. Lighting Considerations:
    • Pay attention to the lighting above your dining banquette. Pendant lights or a chandelier that is centered above the table can enhance the overall look and provide ample illumination. Ensure that the lighting fixtures don’t obstruct the view or create glare on any reflective surfaces.
  5. Versatility with Storage:
    • Many banquettes come with built-in storage options, such as drawers or compartments beneath the seating. This feature can be particularly useful in smaller spaces where maximizing storage is essential. Consider how you can make the most of this storage space, whether it’s for storing dining linens, extra tableware, or other items.


A boutique of banquettes and settees. Please note, the following boutique contains affiliate links. A small commission is paid on the sale of any items that come from clicking on these links, at no additional cost to the buyer. This goes to help support this blog. Thank you!

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25 thoughts on “Dining banquettes and settees and sofas – Do’s and Don’ts in 2023”

  1. You always have wonderful and detailed information on design principles Linda. They never go out of style and your blog is a great reference “book” for anyone looking to create a well-designed home. Happy Holidays!

  2. HI Linda
    Thank you for posting this article. It was really useful. We have had a L shaped fixed bench made and now need to get a table made to fit the space. The internal dimensions of the bench are 147cm x 118cm. What size table would you suggest and would you suggest a pedestal?

  3. How much should the table top overhang the front seat edge with built-in/fixed banquette? We are planning U-shape banquette with approx. 68” between seat edges. Would a 72” long table work? This would overhang the seat edge approx 2” on each end.

    • Hi Lori – I’m confused about the configuration and dimensions. When you say 68IN between seat edges – do you mean the two benches facing each other? (the two long sides of the U ?). Generally you want and inch or so overhang, so assuming I’m reading this correctly, the 72″ table would be fine. It’s easier to add a bolster pillow for comfort if someone needs to be closer to the table than to force someone to squeeze down the bench if the table encroaches too far into the seating space.

  4. Hi Linda, I found your article very informative and helpful. We are in the midst of redesigning our dining room, which is rather narrow. To gain more space we are planning to push the dining table towards the wall and put a bench against the wall. We are considering buying this table but are unsure because it is not exactly a pedestal table. We love the look of it though. But would it be practical that is another question. Would you be able to take a look? I am very interested in your opinion/advice.
    I’m also attaching the technical drawing with exact measurements

    Thank you!

  5. Hi Linda,
    Your post is so helpful! I loved that you included measurements and proportions but I couldn’t find the one thing I was hoping for….how to judge the correct table size when you’ve already got the settee! Here’s my quandary, I have a gorgeous vintage chesterfield sofa that is 104” wide with a slight curve to it . It’s about 87” in width across the inside seating area. I think it will pair beautifully with the oval Tulip table like the one you posted. I’ve been thinking that the larger 79” version is the correct proportion but I’m getting nervous that it may be too large? There’s a 67” oval that would probably be easier to get around and onto the sofa. Just wondering what your thoughts and advice would be?

    • Hi Cynthia – thanks for your question! I think the smaller table will be more comfortable. If you were using an armless sofa, then the bigger table would be okay. But the tall arms of a Chesterfield will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to get in and out of, even taking into account that the table is curved, if it’s nearly as wide as the sofa. The smaller table will provide just that much more space on the ends.

  6. I am doing a Chinese style leaning toward eclectic to blend the antique and modern. I wonder where I could find a settee with carved details?

  7. Hi Linda, I’m so happy I found this article. We are building an open concept condo with a spacious dining area. I’m looking for an 8 person trestle table and would like to have a comfortable, stylish settee on one side. I have Pottery Barn cross back armchairs for the ends and straight back for the other side. I know my husband would like it to have a low arm. Do you think arms will work with this set-up? Thanks!

    • It is harder with four corner legs. It really depends on the space and how long the table it. If the table is 7 feet long, then a 6FT banquette might leave a few inches on each side to get one’s legs under.

    • Hi Carla – The cover is gorgeous and his whole house is as well. I loved the whole issue was focused on small home living. Not tiny house (those are kind of ridic) but small houses where you can put in the best of everything – so much more cozy! Have a great weekend!

  8. Oh, this was interesting! We struggled with how to do the seating in our eating area, just off the kitchen. We have no dining room: made it into a study when we moved here eight years ago, so this eating area (12 x 12 approx) is our only dining room. I finally bought “dining bench” at Arhaus where I have never bought anything else! But it is absolutely perfect. Low arms! Lovely upholstery fabric. Seats 2 nicely. High (ish) back. We finish off the round table with two Pottery Barn upholstered Parsons chairs with high backs and arms. The bench is elegant and over it is a fabulous painting my husband bought me for my birthday which is colorful and reminiscent of textile designs! Anyway, I am a big fan of settees and benches!
    Guess I’ll have to do a post someday…


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