YOU DON’T want people to walk into a room and think they know what it’s going to look like,” said interior designer Ray Booth, whose new book, “Evocative Interiors” (Rizzoli), features two examples of the unexpected: curving banquettes that hug dining tables in a way that elevates classic diner décor. He said the setup “allows for a bit of discovery.” One of his clients likes the demi-lune settee from Coup D’Etat he installed in her Southampton, N.Y., dining room (above) for its social lubrication, the way it pivots people slightly toward each other. “For dinner parties,” she said, “we seat people who don’t know each other well on it because it provides a kind of intimacy.”
Mr. Booth, who splits his time between the Nashville and New York offices of his firm, McAlpine, likes the surprising dynamism of introducing dramatic curves in boxy rooms. “I like to use layers, whether functional, emotional or geometric,” he said. “A circle within a square is one way to do that.” Add a sculptural sofa to a round table and pull the whole vignette away from the wall or windows, and “it creates its own architecture.”
For a Baton Rouge, La., home (pictured at top), Mr. Booth combined mid-20th-century klismos-like chairs by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings with an arcing channel-back sofa that McAlpine designed. “When you have an open-backed, more intricate seat, you balance that with upholstery that’s a little more quiet and solid,” he said. In the Southampton room, he paired the open-backed bench with skirted Peplo chairs from B&B Italia. The table’s single, solid pedestal avoids cluttering the lower half of the arrangement with legs, he pointed out, and spares guests’ knocking their knees against supports. “We have an L-shaped banquette in the breakfast room, and it’s great for piling in the kids,” said Mr. Booth’s client, but for dinner, she prefers the rounded grouping. “It’s not as casual as the corner banquette, and the bench works kind of like a love seat.”
ARCS DE TRIOMPHE // Three Benches That Don’t Bow to Tradition
Clockwise from bottom: Bruno Booth, from $9,795, costantinidesign.com ; Josie InCurve Sofa by Latitude Run, from $930, wayfair.com ; Coup Studio Demi-Lune Setee, from $7,750, r-hughes.com .