Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bench Pressed

The dining room bench.

I'm in the last stages of my dining room revamp, and it has been suggested to me by my imminent peers that I might try a dining room bench in the mix.

My dining room is rather small, a glorified pass through room in a New Orleans shotgun house.

I acquired four grand Parsons chairs that are awaiting some slip covers. The dining room table without the leaves opened, can seat 6 t0 8. It is rectangular. However with the grand Parsons chairs, and the size limits of the room, I can use the four Parsons chairs, two on each long side of the table, without host chairs at the ends in order to be able to walk through the room.

The idea of a bench on one of the long sides of the table is appealing, for obvious space saving reasons - it can be tucked in and under even further than chairs.

Visually it would add interest, it seems a matched set of chairs is just so hum drum, and mixing up styles of seating is all the rage.

I for one, would not like to be the one seated on the bench for dining. Small children seem to like benches, and since we have none, I doubt that our adult friends invited to dine would find the bench commodious.

But the visual possibilities are irresistible.

One of my favorite combinations of seating (pictured in the image below) comes from Gina of Willow Decor. I love the Louis inspired side chairs, the upholstered slip covered Parsons host chairs, and the French style bench sporting a jaunty feedbag sort of dress.

Settees offer a another version of the bench, but it's not much of a space saver in the case of my room.

Rustic or ethnic style benches are terrific for adding texture.

Simple and pared down benches are a bit too spartan for me.

You can bring in a picnic table and a bench and style it up to look very elegant.

Two dramatic upholstered host chairs and dramatic color can elevate the humble bench.

Rustic with modern warms it up.

Well there you have it. The great bench roundup. Dining benches - yes 0r no?

I ordered one. Stay tuned to see how it looks. I can always ditch it for the comfort of chairs for the dinner party.

PS Thank you for all the great comments and photos for the first Visual Vamp Giveaway.

Amanda Talley is thrilled and the two of us are going to look at the photos and choose a winner.

I hope to have the post up next week to show your photos and announce the winner.
You can still enter HERE with a last minute comment and photo.


Shelia said...

Hi Valerie! Oh, I like the idea of a bench! Can't wait to see it. Now do you still live in the charming home you showed us on RMS? Inquiring minds want to know!
Hope you're doing well.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Jan said...

Visually Vamp :)
Seeing these examples - bench yes.
Comfort wise?
Please report back :)

beki said...

I like the idea of a bench. Before the need for a larger table I had a bench in my dining area. I loved the look of it and it worked great for the kids, but when we went to a larger table, chairs won out.

Sabina said...

I saw a fabulous high backed bench in cowhide and black leather in a consignment store in Palm Springs. I'm still thinking about it. Way out West, baby.

my favorite and my best said...

i like the settee versions...but a bench is bullshit uncomfortable.

pve design said...

I would love the look of a "camelback sofa" - in your dining area. We have a banquette and love to cozy up there for b'fast, lunch and supper.

Greet said...

Oh yes go for it! Take the bench of the first picture!! So pretty!!!!

inner_child said...

I love the look of benches, and these benches are gorgeous, but the functionality is too low for me for dining. If there is no back it is uncomfortable to sit for long. One person moves, everyone on the bench is disturbed. Then there is that all to familiar picnic bench phenomenon, the see-saw effect. One end gets up the other end crashes! No matter how well the bench is crafted, that fear persists like in my mind like a bad day at the dentist.
Paula ~ Mise en scène

Visual Vamp said...

Is the dining bench kind of like the fancy guest towels in the powder room, just for show?
Love all your comments!
xo xo

Visual Vamp said...

Is the dining bench kind of like the fancy guest towels in the powder room, just for show?
Love all your comments!
xo xo

La Petite Gallery said...

Vale, Remember the old Kitchen Nooks. I still love that look and a bench at the table.


Carey said...

This is my new favorite post. Only last week I was thinking of getting a dining settee for a small round table I'm planning to put in our dining room. The main dining has been relocated to a large room we call "The Patio Room." So our regular, smaller dining room now has two vintage bar stools at the bar/counter it shares with the kitchen. A dining table in the middle of it would detract from the beauty of the stools and bar. So, I've decided to place a small, round table in the sunny corner for coffe/tea for 4 people maximum. I would love to have a small setee, with a tall back and arms for support, against the corner. I like the one in your first pic, but I really need a curved one. sigh, that would probably cost a fortune. But this is a beautiful post and you've given me lots of inspiration. I'm more excited than ever about trying to make a setee work in that spot!

p.s. Oh, no. I thought your giveaway was a random drawing! Please don't show my shoddy photos of my half-done bedroom and hall. Eeeeek! I thought it was just for entering purposes, not for showing to, to, to. . . well, to who knows WHO. Let me stage and reshoot in daylight. . .

AppleTree said...

yes, bench for visual and space purposes. bring in the chairs when you have a sit down dinner party. do you have many? the bench will be better for cocktail style parties where eveyone needs to move around your house.

Trouvais said...

Hmmm...I've been considering that as well. Mostly because my little settee 's color matches the blue ceiling in the dining room. I love the conviviality of a bench or settee...and the tuck under the table-ality of a bench. Why not. Life's a picnic. XO Trish

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I love a bench for the look and convenience, but I agree it cruel to both back and bottom!!! When you have dinner parties, put either your youngest girfriends or the men on the bench and just be sure the spirits are flowing!

Susan said...

I just got a bench/settee for the dining table and it didn't fit! I'll have to find another spot for it and it needs to be recovered as well! :(

Fifi Flowers said...

OOOh LOVE that first tall-backed bench... FAB!!!

NYCLQ said...

GORGEOUS pic: BLACK wing back chairs. I've alternated to a bench at one time. I like the look. The first bench w/high back looked cool...

Good luck with yours!!
:D Lynda

Ms Smart said...

I'm in on the bench.

I have a dark brown leather dining bench, black wood chairs w/rattan cane seat cover with B&W animal print cushions with red mini dingle ball trim and colorful ribbon ties which surround my grandma's wooden dining room table which she won in 1941.

Julienne said...

Totally in love with the first image! Would love to see a shot with people!!!!Love the idea of chairs for the hosts and benches for the guests (they might not stay too late that way!

Willow Decor said...

My bench is not for show - My kids sit on it (and fight over it) for each meal. They also love to lie down on it - who know why?? Thanks so much for the mention and the kind comments - You are a sweetie!

Renae said...

Great post Valorie! There are some beautiful images and I have to agree with you in that I would not want to be one in the middle of a bench. If I could be guaranteed the edge, it would be fine! I am looking forward to seeing what you do. I do like the aesthetics of the benches!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Oh yes~a bench!

I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but I think that my lamp is now fully lit.
I believe that Visual Vamp Valorie and Perch Valorie are one and the same?
Please forgive me for not catching on sooner.

*Chic Provence* said...

Valerie, yes on benches...very chic, very versatile, still kind of unexpected....go for it!

glad to see you survived Mardi Gras, Super Bowl, Presidents Day and whatever else you were all up to these last few weeks in NO!! lol!

big hug


Simply Mel said...

Please forgive me for I wasn't able to get through the rest of your post due to the drool that started after I saw the first image! That bench/chair is THE BOMB!

Renee Finberg said...

i have a beautiful antique settee at my dining room table.
i love it.


Beth Wooten said...

I wanted a bench or banquette type situation, too. I found a $125 trestle table at a resale shop that seats eight and begged my parents for an antique pew that they'd had for years and that miraculously fits perfectly beside it. Our dining room is a sort of pass through, as well, so the pew works perfectly against the wall, where the table can be pushed pretty far up to it to save room. Plus, I like the pew rather than a bench because it obviously has a back and is surprisingly comfortable.

Beth Wooten said...

We have a walk through type dining room, too, with similar space problems. I begged my parents for an antique pew they've had forever and it miraculously fits perfectly under our trestle style dining table. It's the visual interest of a bench but with the comfort of a back. We put the pew directly against the wall so that its stationary, and we can push the table as far as we need to for more or less space.

Andrea said...

Hi Valorie,
I say a bench is a must. I bought one from zgallerie for my dining table and it looks great. You can also fit more people at the table with a bench. These pictures are great examples!

Linenqueen said...

Benches are for picnics. Ann

Marija said...

Totally yes. We have one and love it (kids sit there and they squirm but they do eventually sit). Use it for clients a ton and it always works well. Though one caveat, they are a bit cumbersome if you have a table with 4 legs rather than a pedestal. All in all, more seating, typically less expensive - yes to the bench! Can't wait to see what you chose! Marija

Anonymous said...

All I can think of is imagining being in an elegant dress in the middle of the bench (never mind coordinating how everyone sits down at a comfortable distance from the table) and needing to powder one's nose (and, no, I don't mean sniffing illicit substances). Do you make everyone slide out and stand while you escape? Do you go the picnic table route and hoist your skirts and your leg over the bench hoping to hold onto your balance and dignity? Do you sacrifice comfort and wait until the meal is over?
Fie, I say! Save benches for children and picnics!

Hermione Darling

sarah, flourish design + style said...

Crazy about the settee!

Elie's Papel said...

I love benches! they sort of break the ice between diners and encourages conversation