Designing the Breakfast Nook

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comAs you know, the laundry room One Room Challenge is wrapping up this Wednesday (stay tuned for that big reveal!), which means we’ll be focusing our attention back on finishing the kitchen and eat-in dining room. I’m so excited to knockout two spaces in one month that have both been a long time coming. One of the last items to cross off the list is designing a custom banquette cushion for our breakfast nook. Click through for a sneak peek of our eat-in dining area, as well as a behind-the-scenes look into my design process…

As you guys already know, I designed the cabinetry and all of the millwork is custom in our kitchen– including the bench seat in the dining area. Having a small, open concept space limited our eating area to a breakfast nook and I’m pretty into the idea of getting cozy and comfortable during each meal we’ll share here. That’s just part of living in a small house. However, for being a tiny space, the breakfast nook required A LOT of planning. Part of that planning included upholstery.

It would be a shame to go to the expense of having beautiful custom cabinetry that was specifically designed to maximize and fit the allotted space, only to buy a readymade cushion that didn’t fit quite right. Luckily, one of my design clients told me about Cushion Source as we were wrapping up her living room project that included two custom window seats. She highly recommended them and they did such a wonderful job on her project, I decided to use them for my own.

I thought it might be helpful if I walk you through my process… in the instance that you also have an area that could benefit from a custom cushion (window seat, outdoor bench, hanging swing, odd shaped nook, etc). Hopefully this will come in handy!

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comFor starters, I knew I wanted to use an outdoor fabric for the bench seat for durability reasons (see my favorite options above). Being under a bright window in a spot that receives a ton of natural light, using an outdoor fabric will keep the cushion from fading. I opted for an acrylic Sunbrella fabric called Sunbrella Shift Spotlight Pebble (pictured below). It’s actually rated indoor / outdoor and has a nice heavy hand that won’t stretch or warp with time and use. The outdoor fabric is also really easy to clean, should someone spill food or drink on the cushion during a meal…. and let’s face it- that’s bound to happen. We also have pets that think they own the place and will probably try to jump up from time-to-time.

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comNext, I determined the size and shape of the cushion. I wanted a plain and simple box cushion, but to dress it up a bit and make it feel tailored- I added a contrast welt. For those of you who aren’t super familiar with sewing terms… it’s also referred to as a piped edge. It’s just a little contrast detail that outlines the shape. I went with a lighter acrylic Sunbrella fabric for the welt, so that it was equally as durable, yet monochromatic.

In regards to the cushion size, I wanted the height of the cushion to be 3″ tall because of the dining table height. Here are a few measurements you should know (and pin for later!)

  • Benches or banquettes typically have a seat height of 14 – 17 inches (ours is 16″).
  • A standard dining table height is around 30 inches tall.
  • Allow 10 – 12 inches of negative space between the seat of your chair and the tabletop.
  • If your banquette has an arm on the end, allow around 7 inches between the arm and the bottom of the table.

I know that’s a lot of math, but these dimensions will help to calculate how tall your banquette and cushion should be. Planning pays off! All of this to say… that’s how I landed on a 3 inch thick cushion, if you were wondering.

After nailing down the important details, I got to have fun with the project and add fun elements like bolsters and throw pillows. Want to see some of my inspiration images? There are a LOT of good window seats and banquettes out there, folks…

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comFirst up, I love the bolsters on the sides of this seat found in the Style Files studio. I definitely wanted to cap each side with round bolsters, and after chatting with Cushion Source, that’s another product they offer… after all, everything is custom. Those will be made of the same fabric.

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comFrom the above image, designed by the talented Mindy Gayer, I really liked the way there were a few throw pillows tossed into the corner of the bench seat. It feels welcoming! It’s also super similar to my own dining area, as it sits directly under a large window. I added a few square cushions to my wishlist after seeing this photo.

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comLastly, I found this image from Emily Henderson’s Griffith Park sunroom reveal and immediately knew I wanted to add a little pattern to the vignette as well. I ordered some patterned swatches from Cushion Source and they didn’t disappoint! These were my top 3 patterned choices (they come in a variety of colors)

Designing the Breakfast Nook - roomfortuesday.comAlthough I don’t want to give too much away just yet, I can tell you the reveal is coming very soon and I’ll share every single detail then! Right now my biggest decision is sourcing dining chairs and deciding if a window treatment is necessary or not for this space. Decisions, decisions. Feel free to weigh in or ask questions in the comments below!

inspiration images: style files // rue mag // emily henderson

*This post is sponsored by Cushion Source. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy! 

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  1. Funny—I was just looking up custom cushions for a kitchen banquet this weekend! Thanks for the sourcing info!

    1. Sure thing! Perfect timing :)

  2. It is going to look fabulous Sarah! You are so close to having the kitchen complete.

    1. Thanks so much, Holly!! We’re on the home stretch! xox

  3. Hi Sarah!!! I clicked on an image of yours on Pinterest, and I’ve been clicking away for the past hour or so at so many thoughtful, creative, interesting blog posts. The landscape sure is beautiful here. I, too, live in SLC (transplant, as well, born and raised in New Orleans) and I’m happy to have found a fresh interior design viewpoint in the area. Really impressed with your blog and tips and ideas you share here, especially your color theory.

    1. Emily!! I’m so excited to hear that! I feel really lucky to be living in Utah- cheers to meeting another transplant. Thanks for following along, clicking around, and exploring the site :) xo

  4. Amy Gaerthfoner says:

    Hey Sarah! Love this nook!!! Wondering if you can share the names of the fabric swatches you pictured… and what the fabric name is for your pillows and contrasting welt for the cushions… I’m ordering some swatches from Cushion Source today but I’m sooooo overwhelmed and would love to take a look at what you sampled as a starting point!

    Also, how sturdy is that table base? We are in the process of trying to find a base for our nook’s table and my hubby is SO concerned about getting the right size pedestle for our 4’x5′ table top. I like what you did but is it sturdy?

    Thanks! – Amy (LipsAllDay.Yay)

    1. Thank you so much, Amy!! Did you check out this post with my fabric selections? My advice is to just order a TON of samples and look at them in your space. In regards to the table base, it’s actually very sturdy. Pedestal tables, by nature, are more likely to topple over than a table with four legs, but it feels secure when your arms are resting on top of it. Hope this helps! xo

      1. Hi! I’m reading the post with your fabric selections right now, and I can’t find the names of your swatches, either! I especially like the three in the last photo. I would order a bunch of my own, but the cost really adds up, so if you could help narrow it down by naming the ones you pictured, that would really help!

        1. Hi Rachael! The three fabrics I used are: Sunbrella Sailcloth Seagull, Sunbrella Shift Spotlight Ash, and Sunbrella Shift Spotlight Pebble. Hope this helps! xo

  5. Hi Sarah! Love your style! Can you tell me how wide your bench is? Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much, Tara! The bench is 22″ wide.

  6. Hello Sarah, This is my very first time posting on a designers blog! I’m hoping you can give me some advice on a banquette I’m having made in our kitchen. Our cabinet guy suggested 18hx18d/w which he states is the standard measurement for a dining chair, however, I don’t care for the “perfect square” look. How did you decide on 16×22? I’m 5’1” but my husband and most of the rest of the world is taller than me. I have two young boys who will be hanging out with both legs and feet crunched up on the top of the banquette bench for years to come, so I want to provide them enough space also. Any input is greatly appreciated.

  7. I love this. Working through dimensions and designing one for my kitchen now. What is the length of the back run and the table? I’m struggling between corner bench or just a long back.

    1. I love hearing that, Shanna! Unfortunately I don’t have dimensions because we moved a few years ago.