October 21, 2021

Window Seat & Banquette Design

Built-in banquettes and window seats add stylish functionality to city condos and suburban homes alike. I’ll walk you through my thought process when it comes to designing the perfect seat height, a comfortable cushion, and all the fabulous back pillow options.

Step 1: Finding The Right Height

When you’re determining the height for your window seat you’ll need to be thinking one step ahead.  Will your window seat have a cushion on top?  How thick will it be?  I find that 18” is a comfortable overall height for a window seat meant for lounging or casual sitting.  If you’re designing a dining banquette, consider making the overall height 1” higher, depending on the table top height that you are pairing it with.

Step 2: The Seat Cushion

Your favorite local upholstery shop is a wonderful place to call for a custom seat cushion.  They will make a visit to template the built-in and discuss options with you for the seat construction.  I generally recommend a cushion thickness of 3” for comfort.  You’ll want a firmer cushion for dining, and a softer cushion for lounging if it’s a window seat where you’ll be reading or resting.

One detail to consider is whether you would like piping.  If the piping is in the same fabric as the cushion itself, it’s called a “self-welt”.  The self-welt tends to be a slightly more traditional look, and “no welt” is a more modern look.  On a dining banquette the welt does tend to catch a few crumbs, so I shy away from it in a commercial setting like a restaurant.

When choosing a fabric for a banquette, source options that are easy to wipe clean like faux leathers.  For a sunny spot, outdoor fabric options like the “Perennials” or “Sunbrella” fabric lines are a good place to start to avoid fading. 

Step 3: The Back Cushion

There are many options to choose from for the back cushion on a banquette.  The fixed pillows in this colorful Cambridge home below were custom designed for this cozy nook in the living room, complete with red trim to coordinate with the color scheme.  In the last image, I designed a red vinyl banquette at the Whitehall Inn in Camden, Maine with a tall channel back for maximum impact.

If you’re designing a window seat, loose pillows help to soften the back and provide an opportunity to add color and pattern to your room. I recommend coordinating sizes such as (2) 24x24 large pillows in the back, (2) 20 x 20 pillows next to them, and (1) 12 x 21 lumbar pillow for the front of one grouping. The extra lumbar pillow helps to break up the symmetry just a bit.


Step 4: Sit Back and Relax

Seeing your designs come to fruition takes a bit of patience, but it’s so rewarding in the end.  For relevant tips on how to choose the right fabrics for your rooms, read my recent blog post from the beginning of the month, My Go-To Fabric + Upholstery Tips.

Until next time,

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