How to Build a Retractable Kitchen Buffet
Build a retractable buffet in the kitchen to add extra counter space without taking up space.
A banquette is a built-in hinged-top storage bench often used in conjunction with a table to create a dining area. The first step to building your own banquette is to determine the dimensions. Measure the floor in the intended area to find the length. Then, use a comfortable dining chair as your guide to find the measurements for the proper height and seat depth. If it makes your work easier, sketch out a five-sided box (the top will remain open) and transfer your measurements to the illustration to use as a guide when cutting and assembling the box.
Transfer your measurements to the 4’ x 8’ sheets of 3/4” birch plywood that will be used to build the banquette’s box frame. Rip the plywood down according to your measurements using a table saw. This is much easier with a helper to support the weight of the wood while you guide it through the saw. Shorter cuts may be easier to make using a handheld circular saw. When you’re done, you should have five pieces of wood: front, back, bottom and both sides.
Assemble the box frame by first attaching the front panel to the bottom. Use wood glue and finish nails to hold the unit together during assembly. Add the back panel next and then the two side panels (Image 1). Once everything is assembled and fits together properly, reinforce the structure by screwing all the pieces together with 1-1/2” wood screws (Image 2). Do not worry about the screw heads being visible, as you’ll be decorating the exterior of the banquette with beadboard in Step 6.
NOTE: If you decide to paint or stain the bench instead of covering with beadboard, you will want to counter-sink the screws enough that you can cover over the heads with wood filler.
Frame the open (top) side of the bench using 1x4 poplar (Image 1). Use a miter saw or a circular saw to cut the wood to length and attach the poplar framing with wood glue and finish nails (Image 2). The purpose of the framing is to add strength to support the bench top and the weight of people sitting upon it.
Bring the bench into the house and set it in its permanent location. Use a 4-foot level to make sure the top surface is level. Use shims if necessary to achieve a level position. Then attach it to the wall studs from the inside of the bench using 3-inch wood screws.
Installing beadboard is a great way to decorate the face of the bench. Simply cut the beadboard to the appropriate height, apply construction adhesive to the back (Image 1), and install it to the face of the bench (Image 2). For added strength, add a few finish nails to the beadboard, but make sure the nails are short enough that they don’t pierce the open inside storage area of the bench (Image 3). This can be done using 4' x 8' sheets of beadboard, but it’s easier to install using the snap-together modular wainscotting material.
Alternatively, if beadboard doesn’t fit the look you’re hoping to achieve, you can also paint, stain or even tile the front of your benches.
Just as you did in Step 2, rip down the bench top (seat) out of 3/4” birch plywood.
The bench top will have a hinged door in it to provide access the storage area inside the banquette. Using the bench top you cut to size in Step 7, draw the space that will serve as the opening. This opening should be large for easy access to the storage area inside, but to make the seat more stable, your door should not extend to the back or side edges of the bench top. It should, however, go the entire way to the front edge. Trace the dimensions for your door on the top of the plywood and cut it out using a handheld circular saw. When you get to the corners, you will need to make the precision cuts with either a jig saw or a Japanese drywall saw.
Use wood glue and finish nails to attach the bench top to the top of the banquette’s box frame. Any wood screws used should be counter-sunk so that they can be covered with wood putty and hidden. Do not attach the storage door.
A piano hinge is a long, continuous run of hinge commonly sold in lengths up to 6 feet. It is the best kind of hinge to use for this type of installation, as it provides consistent support for the door, which will help with weight distribution when someone is sitting on the banquette.
First attach the piano hinge to the storage door, making sure that the hinge stays perfectly flush with the edge of the door. Use a nail, screw or an awl to punch small starter holes into the back portion of the storage bench where the hinge will attach. Then use a screw gun to run 1-1/4” wood screws into these starter holes, firmly attaching the hinge to the door.
Repeat this process with the other side of the hinge on the bench top (which is now secured to the top of the storage bench).
To dress up the banquette and hide the unfinished plywood edges of the top, wrap the face of the unit in 1-inch decorative trim molding. Use wood glue and finish nails for the install. To give it a more built-in look, you may want to use the same baseboard you have in the rest of the room and wrap it along the lower edge of your banquette.
The final step is to finish off the banquette by filling any nail holes with stainable/paintable wood putty and painting or staining it.