26 May 2009
Today, our banquette cushions arrived. I'm quite happy with them! Two motivated blog posts in two days -- progress is clearly trending up.
We will have an L-shaped banquette in the new kitchen, as suggested by the layout in the photo above. I toyed around with a u-shaped banquette but it just didn't feel right, despite the symmetry of the nook. I can't articulate why -- wish I could -- I just know that it had the wrong vibe when I tried to make it a three sided seating area. I passed the challenge off to an interior decorator at the cabinetry firm, and she also felt the urge to make it a U-shaped. She tried a few different things, and then ultimately came back to me and said she really felt the L-shape was better.
Getting banquette cushions was a lot harder than I expected. My first plan was to have a straight wood back fronted with a sloped back cushion, on top of 5" thick seat cushions (using dacron-wrapped high density foam, with sunbrella fabric). This desire was influenced in part by reading a couple blog posts by Susan Serra at The Kitchen Designer blog. I got a couple cushion quotes for this configuration, however, that were literally OVER $3,000. Seriously?? I knew I could shop around to get the figure down, as well as buy the foam from a different supplier, but this would not be enough to change the number of relevant digits from 4 to 3.
I thought my desires through and realized I was just as happy with a slanted wood back, as an upholstered back, so that cut out half of the cost for my cushions right there. I figure I can add some strategic pillows to make it look cozy and inviting. Then I decided to try a google search and see what I could find for cushions. I found an ebayer who sells dacron-wrapped high-density foam cushions using sunbrella fabric for a mere fraction - truly - of the quotes I was getting. The only catch is that it's only 3.5" thick and that dimension can't be easily changed. Another minor point is that I prefer a welted box cushion, but she doesn't do welts except at the center front (not what I want). I decided that these cushions needed to be inexpensive, given the abuse they will undoubtedly receive from our kids over the next few years. So I gave away an inch of cushion, raised the height of my wood benches by an inch, and decided to use the less expensive 3.5" cushions.
I was advised consistently by everyone I talked to, to use a sunbrella indoor fabric for my upholstery, for its stain resistance. Since my nook is directly underneath a window, I also wanted a fabric that wouldn't fade quickly. Sunbrella has quite a loyal following for its easy clean easy care fabrics. I wonder about the chemicals that go into the fabric to make it so stain resistant -- it's easy to get a list of the chemical names but harder to find out if they're particularly worrisome. I decided that we weren't going to EAT the fabric, by any means, and the square footage of fabric was small, so on balance, the chemicals in this fabric are probably negligible. The sunbrella stripe pattern that I chose is called "Brannan Redwood." It contains red, gray, medium brown, dark brown, and cream. This is a scary match for my kitchen which will have gray walls, a red accent cabinet, medium brown cabinets, and a few sections of dark brown walnut counter. The pattern is almost TOO matchy matchy.
Anyways, I put in my order with the ebay seller for these 3.5" cushions. The cost was $300 -- SO much less than the initial sticker shock quotes of $3,000. She provided great customer service too. She requested my actual nook drawings and dimensions to ensure the cushions fit. She suggested that we create a diagonal cut at the back corner (a free customization from her off-the-shelf product with rectangular cushions). She attached sew-on velcro to the bottom of the cushions in preparation for me attaching them to the benches, also at no extra cost. She shipped her custom made cushions within two weeks of my placing the order. Ebay is always a gamble, but I'm pretty happy with these results. The cushions in the picture, by the way, are just a minute or two after unwrapping them from their compressed plastic bag prisons -- so they should fluff up a little bit more (perhaps another half-inch).
Now I just need my actual benches, to see if the cushions are actually comfortable! Minor detail... :)
Posted by Rachele at 10:30 PM