Dabito’s Upholstered Breakfast Banquette Can Handle All the Spills
So can his all-white (!) outdoor sofa—here’s his secret to both.
Updated Feb 21, 2022 6:00 PM
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Starting fresh, although exciting, is never easy. Fortunately for artist, interior designer, and Old Brand New founder Dabito, when he decided to rework the colorful New Orleans cottage he shares with his partner, he already had a game plan.
He knew he wanted warm, inviting entertaining areas, both inside and out—while also maximizing the modest (just 860 square feet!) amount of floor space available. He also wanted furniture that was the right mix of versatility, durability, and style. Dabito knew Sunbrella fabrics—though typically known for their outdoor-performance capabilities—would be a great fit for multiple parts of his home, indoors included. Here’s how he got creative with the brand’s materials.
It Is What’s Inside That Counts
After considering how the open-plan kitchen and living room were used, and the flow from one to the other, Dabito realized there was an opportunity to design a dedicated dining area, something that had been missing previously. “The goal was to create a spot where we could eat a delicious home-cooked meal and where we didn’t have to slouch around the coffee table,” he says. “Since the home didn’t have a dining space, I wanted to squeeze in a banquette along the wall between the two rooms.”
Dabito chose the Coventry Bench from Ballard Designs, which at 48 inches fit neatly into the cozy space; once paired with a concrete bistro table, it created an intimate nook. For a playful pop of color, he selected a cheery lemon yellow and white cabana-stripe fabric from Sunbrella. A fully upholstered piece might feel risky for a high-traffic area, and Dabito admits he wouldn’t have gone for the idea without a Sunbrella indoor performance textile that can withstand all the messy moments. “If I ever accidentally get a little crazy with the wonton chili sauce or red wine,” he says, “the material is stain-resistant and easy to clean.”
Think Outside the Box
Transforming the backyard—which was, in reality, a narrow strip of patchy grass—into a fun and inviting hangout proved to be even more of a challenge than the dining area. First, he needed to start from the ground up, extending the deck to meet the fence and staining it navy blue. “I was hoping for a space where I could lounge and host an intimate gathering with friends and family,” says Dabito, noting he wanted the design to feel like an extension of the indoors.
At the center of the space is a modular teak sofa from Neighbor finished in a neutral Sunbrella canvas fabric—a seemingly brave color choice for an outdoor entertaining space, but a well-considered one: “I love a white outdoor sofa to brighten things up, since [the furniture] tends to be made from wood,” he says. “And I know that Sunbrella fabric is weather- and UV-resistant, fade-resistant, holds up to stains, and is simple to care for, creating a long-lasting (and therefore more sustainable) result.”
Using the home’s vibrant color palette as inspiration for accessorizing (the house has pink siding, green floors, and blue shutters), he added several statement pillows—a palm leaf one, a pink-and-gray diamond design, and a floral lumbar number, all covered in Sunbrella fabrics; at the end of the area, two striped yellow and white pillows, rested atop banana-colored chairs, neatly call back to the dining area’s upholstered banquette. An all-weather rug (also by Sunbrella) in monochromatic green stripes completes the transformation, making the space, as Dabito puts it, one “that’s bold, unique, and tells the story of who lives there.”