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Dining Room Chairs 101.

Blog

Dining Room Chairs 101.

Andrea Porritt

After I was able to pinpoint my dining room table, it was time to move on to chairs!

Decades ago, picking your dining room furniture was not even an issue, as most tables came with a pre-existing set of chairs so you never had to wonder if the pieces worked together.  Thankfully, the days of the dining room sets are well behind us, and the modern home is all about a wonderful amalgamation of different styles, trends, textures and shapes.

Here are five easy steps that will help you pick the perfect dining room chairs:

1.) Dimensions.

Chairs and chair arms should be able to slide under your dining table with ease, but they also must have comfortable lap and leg room when guests are sitting in them. Most dining tables are about 30 inches high. Chair height is generally 18 inches (from the floor to the seat). A rule of thumb is to allow 12 inches between the seat of your chair and your tabletop.

The average dining chair width is roughly 16-20 inches, but I would avoid anything narrower than 17 inches; they just don't provide enough support for the derriere. Since I had the space I opted for max comfort and chose chairs that were 22" wide with a depth of 19.5". I also decided to go with all arm chairs for an extra luxurious feel.  But keep in mind arms will usually add a few inches to the overall width of a single dining chair. So if space is limited, you may want to opt for armless dining chairs or only use dining chairs with arms at the head and foot of your table to conserve space.

2.) Don't Overcrowd Your Table!

If dining chairs are placed right next to each other with no space between them, people will be touching elbows while they eat. So be sure to provide each guest with 24 - 30 inches of space at the dining table. For rectangular tables, add an extra 12 inches at each end for those seated at the head and foot of the table. You'll also want to make sure there is enough room behind your dining chairs for people to slide out easily.

3.) Mix-and-Match.

Mix-and-match sets are in vogue. They're more interesting, but also more challenging to put together. And let me tell you... there are even more chair options out there than tables, so it can be hard to find the right match for your table and lifestyle.

Although it can be chic to pair traditional chairs with a contemporary table, and vice versa, I think its best to try and find pieces that share a common design element. For example, if your dining room table has slightly curved legs look for a chair with a curved back. My dining room table is rectangular so I chose chairs with a rectangular shaped seat.

I also decided to go with chairs that matched each other, but not the table. Another option that has become quite popular is to opt for non-matching chairs - chairs that don't match each other or the table. But whichever way you decide to go, mixing and matching definitely allows for more leeway in purchasing and allows your personal style to shine through!

4.) Style.

Having the perfect dining table is only half the battle when it comes to furnishing your dining room. The right chairs not only set the mood of the room, but take on the responsibility of keeping you, your family and your guests comfortable during a meal. The shape, colour and material of the chairs say a lot about your personal style and can alter the entire look of the dining room. 

There certainly are a zillion different styles out there, from traditional, modern and ladderback to windsor, mission and shaker, the options are simply endless!! Then there's the question of upholstered versus non-upholstered. It's important to take a look at your lifestyle and family when making a decision about upholstery and fabrics. An upholstered chair seat and back creates a more traditional, glam feel, while an all wood or all metal chair offers a more streamlined look that's easier to clean.

I opted for a modern but slightly formal look with our dining room chairs, as this was a good match for our dining table and the rest of our house. We decided on the Harput Wood Dining Room Chairs from Soho Concept. I love the clean lines and simple shape of these chairs (key details for a modern look), and decided on a classic neutral fabric in a silver-grey for a more sophisticated feel. I bought our dining chairs from the lovely ladies at Lexi & Lake, a fabulous boutique store here in Kelowna that specializes in modern furniture and home accessories. A must visit if you love design and anything modern or contemporary!

5.) Comfort is Key.

Whatever chairs you decide to go with, make sure they're comfortable! As great as some chairs look, if you can't sit through a meal in them they're not going to do you any good. SO when you're out looking be sure to take your time and sit in the chairs. And if your back starts to ache after five minutes, it's time to move on.

So go forth and choose wisely. With so many option available, you're sure to find one that suits!

Dining Room Details:

Soho Concept Harput Wood Dining Chair in Camira Wool from Lexi & Lake.

Calvin Dining Room Table from Once a Tree Furniture.