Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Kristen
Photo via Mend Design.
During the pandemic quarantine, many of us reconfigured our homes to accommodate the never-imagined hours we were forced to spend inside. We got creative, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of the desire not to look at the same interior day in and day out. And our dining tables became more essential and more used than ever before.
That meant rethinking seating around said table. It had to be more comfortable and more versatile. Sure, banquettes and benches are made for alternative dining table seating. But you could also try something a lot more flexible—something that doubles as place to lounge when you’re not entertaining.
The answer is a good old, versatile, easy-to-find, sofa.
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It’s an excellent option for a small space where rooms need to do double duty. It can also work for a larger room where you want extra lounging options or areas to congregate. Some can even to triple duty as a sleeper sofa.
But since couches aren’t usually designed for a dining table, it’s important to think through a configuration that will be practical and comfortable as well as stylish and measure, measure, measure! (Can you tell I learned this the hard way?)
Sofas can be a bit low for a typical dining table, so you may have to attach legs—it’s an easier DIY than you might think. Check out how The Sorry Girls amazing dining sofa DIY below.
Also make sure the sofa doesn’t have arms that will trap your family or guests in their seats. Form over function does not fly in this case. Check out some great choices and suggestions below!
A sofa at the dining table—things to consider
Sofas are typically lower than dining chairs, and you don’t want your guests to feel like little kids at the grown-up table. So be sure to measure your table height and consider how that will work with the sofa you have in mind. If it’s too low, try using casters on the legs, or perhaps an extra cushion, as long as it doesn’t get too funky aesthetics- or comfort- wise.
A couch will also usually be set back farther than a chair, and you don’t want an ab or arm workout during dinner (although that could be an interesting way to cancel out the calories you’re eating). And you can’t easily scoot in a couch. One solution is to add some pillows to the back that will bring your seat. Just make sure they’re firm enough to keep diners upright.Crate & Barrell banquette seating, $2,200 (made to order, allow extra time for shipping)
This is not the place for a down-filled situation. You want firm cushions that encourage an attentive posture since people will be eating and working here, not watching Netflix (until later, maybe).
For obvious reasons, easy-to-clean fabric like leather (or faux) or microfiber will be the best choices for seating that will be used in the presence of food. Velvet is so tempting though.
Sofa, settee, loveseat, banquette?
When searching for a couch or sofa for your dining table, you may want to search for “settee” or “loveseat,” depending on the size you need. Usually, a settee is larger than a loveseat but smaller than a couch. A “banquette,” refers to usually-built-in seating against a wall. You can achieve basically the same thing by pushing a high-backed loveseat or settee against a wall in front of your table.
An armless piece is best for use at a table—It’s easier to scoot into your seat when armrests aren’t in the way. Armrest are also like collectors of errant food. The one above from Anthropologie is so reminiscent of The Sorry Girls version that it might be worth the effort of adding legs or a platform!