Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's Under Your Stairs?

I bet many of you that have a stairway in your house, under utilize the space below it.
But before I get to that, let's look at one of the most charming seating elements: The Banquette.

Banquette at my favorite French restaurant La Grenouille

Who of us has not gone to a restaurant, especially the ladies, and not wanted to claim the banquette? Seated against the wall, with a view of the entire room, you just kind of feel grand. Even the humble booth at the diner, is preferred seating because it's cozy.

Banquette at a restaurant

The space under the stairs just calls out for a banquette. Or you ou could just shove a couch or a jam settee under the stairs.

Couch under the stairs

But it just doesn't make it, does it? A banquette looks much more finished, elegant, and glam.

Tobi Farley

Banquettes have been widely used in many other cultures, in place of couches as we know them in our part of the world. Morocco is a good example. For many of us the optimal floor plan does not involve shoving furniture up against the walls.

Banquette in Morocco

We tend to like to float furniture. However there might be some little corner that a banquette might add a little extra something to the room.

My friend Tim Pope uses this simple banquette in his living room
See more of his fabulous New York apartment HERE

Melissa Rufty, a very talented New Orleans designer HERE, is the master of using the banquette.

Melissa Rufty

Especially when she tucks them under the stairs.

Melissa Rufty holds court under the stairs

Paired with the perfect small tables, she creates a seating area that is useful and popular.
She tells Mimi Read in House Beautiful: "When we have a party, it starts out collecting coats and purses, but it ends up collecting the late-nighters. It's where we hold court."

Melissa Rufty
Do you see the perfect Lucite table?

The banquette used in the odd unused place in the living room is a really smart thing to add.

Arnold Scassi

It offers glam looking additional seating and a great styling opportunity.

All the old school master decorators used the banquette as a staple. I am so happy see its return. Many of you may already have a banquette in the kitchen dining area, but I think you should consider it for under the stairs, or for that unused corner in your living or family room.

If you are handy, or have a handy husband, you can custom build one HERE

Or you can use modular furniture. Ballard actually sells some good looking pieces that would be fabulous under the stairs.


You also could use a couple of benches in an L-shape and pile on the throw pillows.

Trunks as benches!
Not very elegant
But it could work for young decorators just starting out


The Gimlet Eye said...

Great post....just adore the banquette under the stairs. If I had them, I would do it!
Ha. Ha....your pics are not blurry. They are so much better than mine, esp. when I enlarge them. What gives?!

pretty pink tulips said...

OK...we're thinking alike! When I saw the beginning of your post, i thought...Melissa Rufty. Then, I scroll down...and you had just mentioned her spread in HB. I am a huge fan of her work!! (Great minds think alike!!)
xo Elizabeth

pve design said...

We have a banquette in our kitchen which we have fit many around for meals. I love the way a banquette adds a hip lounge look to a home.
There are also some on CSN on-line for not alot of moola.
Melissa Rufty has got such style!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

It is such a great concept and makes use out of what is sometimes an odd area. If I had a bigger foyer, I would do this in a minute!
But, alas I will just enjoy all these wonderful images!!!

Barbara said...

Great post, VV. Rufty banquettes are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

funny you should mention!

just the way i was always sure there was a gorilla behind the shower curtain, i was totally certain there was a troll under the stairs.

in brooklyn in the late '40s, who knew from a banquette? neither ben's delicatessen on utica avenue, nor levine's candy store on e. 46th and clarkson had a banquette! m


La Petite Gallery said...

This was wonderful, loved the banquette under the stairs.
I like Zebra in a chair, belt or
rug ONLY. yvonne