Looking to turn an under-utilized spot in your home into a comfy banquette for dining and lounging? It’s easier (and less expensive) than you'd think. Here’s a set of blueprints and easy-to-follow instructions to help you get started on creating your very own breakfast nook!
Measure the height you want the seat. The standard height is 18 inches, but we recommend a height of 19 inches — high enough so you don’t feel like you’re a kid at your own table, but low enough so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor.
Create a support for the banquette to rest on. Attach 2"x4" lumber to the wall with nails or screws where the back edge of the seat will meet the wall (the boards don't need to be pretty, as they will be hidden when the project is complete). The top edges of the boards should be at a height of 15 1/2 inches (that way, when you add the seat plank and cushion on top, the finished seat will be at the ideal height of about 19 inches.
To create the seat bottom, cut a piece of 1/2"-thick plywood in the shape of your window nook, with a depth front to back of about 20" to 24", depending on how many cushions you want to use across the back. (Keep in mind that deeper is better, as it makes it more lounge-y feeling when complete.) It's also a good idea to leave an overhang of about 1 1/2" on the seat so the baseboard won't get scuffed and kicked by shoes. Note: To ensure a snug fit, you may want to create a cardboard template first before cutting the shape out with plywood.
Cover the board with 3" foam cut to fit the shape of the plywood seat. If you're handy, you can apply the foam to the plywood using spray adhesive, cover it with some Dacron wrap (a polyester batting that protects the foam and softens the edges) then upholster the top using a staple gun and your chosen fabric (for an extra durable choice in the kitchen, consider using leather or vinyl). A loose cushion is also a possibility, but upholstering it after it’s fixed to the board will help keep it in place and prevent shifting.
To create the front face of the built-in, buy a piece of 1/2"-thick cabinet grade plywood — this means it is smooth and ready to be painted or stained once installed — with a height of 16 inches and the length of the nook’s opening. (The 16 inches is based on a seat height of 19 inches and accounts for 3 inches of cushion. Yes, it sounds like a lot of math, but the goal is to get a great end result, so follow the contractor’s golden rule: Measure twice, cut once!)
To create a professional, streamlined built-in look, continue your baseboard along the front face. Finally, paint or stain it in the color of your choice, add some pillows (look for ready-made, cotton covers you can zip on and off and throw in the wash), relax and enjoy!
Love this tutorial? See the original article and many more DIY guides at goodhousekeeping.com.
Got a burning design or decor question that needs an answer? I'm looking for great questions for my monthly column in Good Housekeeping, so send them via email to [email protected] (put Ask Sarah in the subject line).