The future dining corner at Tree House is coming! The space that once held a faux brick fireplace surround-slash-wood-stove-combo has since been holding down a rickety plastic folding table and a set of 4 metal chairs – with a lot of, ahem, patina. But now, finally, it’s going to get its time in the spotlight. While we haven’t settled on materials or construction plans just yet, we wanted to bring everyone along on the journey through the design/build process and also probe the creative minds of our readers. You guys and gals always come through for us with incredible ideas and inspiration, for which we’re incredibly grateful.
This tiny corner space presents its own set of challenges, but it’s a bit of a return to our roots. We love a small space, and our former 650 square foot condo taught us a lot about fitting maximum functionality into minimum square footage, so we’ll be relying on some of those lessons here!
Dining Corner | Today
This corner of our Tree House isn’t photographed often because, well, it needs some attention. (Despite this, I can’t even begin to tell you how many meals we’ve eaten at that folding table, squeezed in tightly with adults, toddlers and babies alike. This corner is a workhorse!) The hand-me-down TV atop the alley find cabinet has served us okay as a placeholder (we’ve even watched a Super Bowl and the Oscars on that little guy!), but we certainly need a more permanent and attractive solution that will suit the space better. When we completed the baseboards in the rest of the room, we intentionally held off on this entire corner knowing that we’d be tackling the banquette project in 2019, and here we are!
When we toured our Tree House over a year and a half ago, we envisioned a built-in banquette nestled into the corner. We imagined the corner as the home’s heartbeat, a gathering hub for everything from lazy family breakfasts to warm, cozy holiday feasts. You may remember that we got a jumpstart on the corner by removing the non-functioning fireplace, repairing the floors and patching the drywall, but there were still two things fighting against us: 1) the loft ladder on its electric hoist and 2) the obvious space constraints of the room.
As we began our search for inspiration, we took notes, pinned ideas that we liked and bookmarked Instagram photos. Emily’s sunroom design below has been in Kim’s back pocket for a while now, and it’s the first photo that got us really excited about the possibilities!
Dining Corner | Inspiration 1
Similar to our inspiration image, we toyed with the idea of bolsters and molding for a built-in feel. But when we thought about how we could incorporate those ideas into our Tree House, we found ourselves gravitating towards something even more simple. Oddly enough, the space that we keep coming back to is a restaurant in our own neighborhood! Lonesome Rose, one of our favorite breakfast/taco/cocktail (in no particular order) spots, has a bright, airy vibe that draws you in and almost forces you to relax. We’re not always the best at shutting our work brains off, so forced relaxation is exactly what we’re working toward in our Michigan getaway.
Dining Corner | Inspiration 2
Although Emily’s design was where we started (and it served its purpose in getting us very excited), and Lonesome Rose is sort of where we are now, you can see that the journey from inspiration point A to inspiration point B can be, ultimately, drastically different! The banquette seating at Lonesome Rose is sturdy and comfortable with the just-right seatback angle. The natural wood finish ties into our kitchen and Tree House’s Michigandinavian theme. The cushions are simple and non-fussy, so Kim won’t be fighting the urge to fluff back pillows all day. While this design is almost perfect for our little corner, we have serious need for additional storage at Tree House, so we’ll be incorporating a flip-up seat with room for games, blankets, and extra linens. So, we came up with a wish list, which includes:
- Seating for 8
- Flip top bench storage
- Accent lighting (i.e., a sconce or two)
- Back support for additional comfort
- A television and sound system on the wall – some way, somehow
Knowing that …
- … We want to make our dining table from our tree.
- … The ladder will restrict our table depth.
- … We’ll need to utilize backless stools to tuck out of the way.
- … This is the only wall for a television and sound system, but we also don’t want it to be an eyesore.
Challenge accepted?! We started by taping our estimated dimensions onto the walls and floor to ensure that we were on the right path. We’ve used this method for everything from gallery walls to rugs to furniture in the past. Kim and I are both very visual people, so it’s helpful to see how things will actually function in a particular space before pulling the trigger on a significant construction project or piece of furniture!
EDIT: We’ve received a lot of questions about the termination point of the bench seat below the window in the potential plans. The current end point below (under the left window opening mechanism) was chosen to align (roughly) with the long end of the future table. We thought the same thing, and we even originally taped out this end of the banquette to align with the edge of the window trim. We ultimately nixed the idea since this would result in the banquette extending at least 16″ past the edge of the table. We think this would make for an awkward point of entry into the bench seat and might look off-balance once the table is in place most of the time. We hope this helps to explain that thought process a little better, and we love all of your feedback! Thank you and please keep the input coming!
Dining Corner | The Sort-of Plan
Then we placed our folding table back into the corner to get a feel for things. The ladder is almost always in the UP position, but we need to ensure that there was ample clearance when it does need to come down for loft access.
For reference, our little plastic table is 24″ wide, so we’re pretty certain that a table of 30″ – 32″ wide will put us right in the sweet spot of allowing the ladder to safely lower, while also maximizing our surface area. Utilizing backless stools will allow for the widest-possible table depth while also providing versatile seating options that can be moved throughout the room!
Throughout the process, we’ve considered a variety of IKEA hacks, storage benches from all of our favorite furniture stores, and even the same Kraftmaid pull out drawers that we used in our recently renovated kitchen + mudroom, but it’s looking like a full custom plan is the only way we’ll be able to check all of our wish list boxes. We like the idea of raw wood protected in a matte varnish, but similar to our slim behind-the-sofa console, we’re leaning towards a white base.
We’re currently leaning toward a mix of plans that will pull elements from Addicted 2 Decorating, House Updated and Making Manzanita – among others. While none of those designs will fit our needs exactly, we’re confident that a Greatest Hits design that pulls portions from each will be our best option and give us a corner banquette with storage and a back and be attractive and welcoming!
And that? That just about brings us up to speed! Now, what are we missing? Are there other banquette designs or plans that we should be looking into? Have you built a banquette of your own? There’s still time for editing and tweaking, so we welcome all of the input and inspiration we can get!