BOOTH

The cushy comfort of a booth is hard to beat.

Going out to eat is always a treat. And the tables most often requested? Booths.

Booths and banquettes are often favored for their intimacy. In addition to the cozy charm, a booth is also simply comfortable. Surrounded by the cushy padding, the booth seems secluded and gives off a romantic feel when you're dining out. For families, the appeal of a booth is that it provides togetherness and a relaxed feel to dining, something that can be recreated easily at home.

Dining with leisure

Experts say that the time we spend together eating as a family is important, and booths are a great way to encourage that. Hard chairs, trendy benches and stiff seats hardly lend themselves to eating, much less lengthy table conversations. One of the side benefits of booth dining is how the comfort it provides encourages you to spend more time dining and talking. This makes booths a great fit for both couples and families, and urges extra time spent at the table catching up on conversation.

Booth or banquette

No matter what you call it, a home dining booth or banquette can be recreated easily. If you have a wall in your breakfast room, you can create a booth for your home. Some homeowners prefer to create a bench-type banquette with long cushions, which is easy to put together.

Booths can be placed against a small spot and don't have to be tucked into walls. For something custom, your local upholsterer can help you create padding to apply to the walls for a full booth feel that blends with your home decor. Need something more quickly and less expensive? Opt for a booth dining set like the Adie banquette seat (www.roomstogo.com). Paired up with a dining table in the middle, you'll have an intimate dining set.

Go retro

But, if you want to take it a step further and recreate that smooth, plush and leather-like booth experience at a restaurant, it's only a click away. Search for online resources that offer a full booth, such as the Three Quarter Circle Booth (www.webrestaurantstore.com) that's ready for your family to slide in and gather around for a meal.

If it's the traditional two-seater booth you want, look at the single upholstered booths that can be positioned across from each other. Simply add a table, and you'll have your own diner experience that's surprisingly affordable at about $250 per booth seat (www.seatingmasters.com).

Old-style kitchen appliances and furnishings have made their way back into fashion again as well. Some styles are simply iconic, and that includes diner-style booths. Look for those styles in bright red with an art-deco V-insert in white, or try a turquoise and white blend with a classic white laminate top for a cool, classy and vintage vibe. The whole set up can be purchased for less than $2,000 (www.retrooutlet.com).

The cushy comfort of a booth is hard to beat. Whether you sit in the dining room or breakfast room for the majority of your meals, a booth makes a soft and appealing alternative both formal and informal dining.

(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)