Traditional Home editor Tori Mellott talks about why she's always wanted a dining banquette

You may have seen the faces of the Traditional Homes editors smiling at you from the pages of our January catalog. They shared the items they’ve been dreaming of adding to their home, so we sat down with them to talk about their choices.

Tori Mellott, Traditional Home’s Senior Design & Markets Editor, has always wanted a cozy dining banquette for her home, complete with a perfectly aged wooden table. We asked her why it’s on her list and what her first meal would be once she had one!

Ballard Designs: We love this look too! What is it about a banquette that’s just so appealing? 

Tori Mellott: There is something about a banquette that’s just plain cozy. I love that you can pile a bunch of kids in it for some hot soup on a chilly weekend or load it up with adults for a casual dinner. It’s also a space saver – individual chairs take up a lot of room. A banquette can be tucked into a corner, placed against a wall, or floated in the middle of a room to act as a room divider. And it’s stationery – so no moving parts to get in the way.

BD: An upholstered banquette is a luxe look, but how do you make a fabric seat functional for a family?

TM: Yes, and upholstered banquette is VERY luxe and if you have children you’d be bonkers not to pre-treat your upholstery fabric with some sort of dirt and stain repellant like Nanotex or Scotchguard. There are services that do this for a nominal charge, and it will exponentially extend the life of your upholstery. However, there is an even better solution – FAUX LEATHER! In the 70’s this was commonly referred to as “Naugahyde” which was terrifyingly ugly but practical. Today’s faux leathers are amazing, they truly have the look and feel of leather and come in a host of colors. There are even faux leathers that are embossed to look like luxe croc. It’s a game-changer. Just wipe it down and viola!

BD: How do you appropriately pair a banquette with the right table? Anything in particular you need to look for?

TM: It really depends on the look you are going for. A more casual and very comfy pairing would be a fully upholstered banquette with a skirt to the floor and a rustic, round table. A sleeker more sophisticated look would be a banquette with finished legs and tight upholstery paired with a lacquered table or a table that isn’t too chunky or clumsy.

BD: Once you have the banquette and table worked out, then there’s the question of light fixture! Any thoughts?

TM:  You can never go wrong with a pendant light! Although they are chic, most pendant lamps are notorious for giving off poor light. If you need lighting that is more task-oriented than mood-setting (think homework!), go for something that has exposed bulbs, like a chandelier. But if you think you’ll only be using your table for parties and romantic dinners, go for the pendant lamp. They are great-looking!

BD: What’s the first meal you would serve at your new dining space?

TM:  I unapologetically do not cook (I’d rather decorate!), so I would probably serve pizza delivery and some delicious red wine – my favorite meal!

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