The table and chairs are the essential elements of a dining room. They create the centre point and provide space for sharing food, relaxing and working. If you get it right, your dining room can be the heart of the home, but choosing the perfect dining room chairs for your requirements is essential. Comfort, design and practicalities all play a part in finding the ideal dining chair for your space.
Wood Furniture Store has created the complete guide to choosing dining room chairs, from selecting the size to picking the perfect complementary style. Keep reading for top tips on how to choose dining chairs ideal for your needs.
Table & Chair Sets
A common time to choose dining room chairs is when buying a dining table, and selecting the items that come in a set. This can be a good way to get reliable chairs that match the table and comfortably fit underneath them. However, matching sets do have limitations so aren’t the first choice for everyone.
Sometimes the complementary pairing can look too complete, creating a space that might be missing that extra character and charm. Choosing dining chairs separately to the table, yet ones that match in style, wood type or colour, can create a more unique and interesting look, adding texture and dynamic to the interior.
While a table comes with matching chairs, these might not be the perfect solution to your needs. For example, you might often entertain a lot of guests and would prefer a bench or banquette to a traditional chair. Alternatively, you might need to select a specific style of chair that can support a baby booster seat, which not all can.
If you’re buying a new table and new dining chairs, you don’t have to go for a matching set. Consider what the other options are and if there are chairs that would work even better in your dining room.
How To Choose Chairs
There are lots of factors to take into account when it comes to choosing dining chairs. We’ve broken it down with tips for each category so you can easily work out what the best option is for you.
Dining Chair Sizes
It’s essential that your dining chairs fit comfortably under the table without being so high that people can’t sit comfortably or so low that it’s difficult to eat!
The general rule is to have about 12 inches between the seat of the dining chair and the underside of the tabletop. This will provide the perfect height for both taller and shorter guests, allowing the vast majority of people to feel comfortable.
For example, if your dining table is 30 inches tall (to the underside), then you’ll need a chair with a seat that measures 18 inches from the floor.
Be sure to take into account the apron of your table. This is the wooden panel that connects the table legs to the top – although not all tables have one. Banging knees on this can be very painful so be sure that the chair height takes this into account!
Chairs with arms
If you choose dining chairs with arms, aim for around 7 inches of space between the arms of the chair and the underside of the tabletop.
This ensures that the chairs will be able to comfortably tuck under the table during meals and when you’re not using them.
Numbers & Space
Consider the number of people you usually have around your table and how much space you want. This will, of course, inform the size of dining table you go for, but it also influences the number of chairs you need and if dining chairs and actually the best option.
How many dining chairs do I need?
Base how many chairs you need on the size of your table. A table 72 inches long comfortably seats 6 people, while a 96 inch table sits 8.
Be sure to leave space between each dining chair so people can eat comfortably without feeling too close to their neighbours! It’s recommended to have 15 inches of space between each chair.
If you have an extendable table, you’re likely to want to buy enough chairs for when the table is extended so you can have all the seats match and look great. This has added complexity as you have to consider where you’ll store the additional chairs when the table is at its smallest. Many dining chairs can double as chairs for the office, bedroom or as additional chairs in the living room.
If you’re seating a lot of guests and want flexibility, then instead of choosing dining chairs, you could instead opt for a bench or banquette…
Banquettes & benches
A bench can be a great alternative to a dining chair, particularly if you want additional flexibility. They’re also great for maximising space in a room as benches take up less space than the equivalent number of dining chairs.
A banquette is an upholstered bench, usually with a back. They usually are positioned up against a wall. Similar to a bench, they don’t have set spaces and therefore allow more people to fit around the table.
Benches come in all sorts of designs and sizes, so you can find one that matches your interior design scheme and matches your dining table.
For example, this simple oak bench comes in three different colours and will therefore match almost any oak table. It’s simple and practical.
Alternatively, benches can be more ornate and styled, like this industrial bench that is indicative of the Victorian industrial revolution and is sure to add interest to your dining room.
An upholstered bench, or a banquette, is a great way to add a touch of sophistication to your dining experience. With backs, they have the comfort of dining chairs but with the practicality of benches.
Mix and match dining chairs
Just as there’s no rule to say your dining chairs have to match your table, there’s also nothing to say they have to match each other! Taking a mix and match approach to choosing dining room chairs can be a great way to add an extra dynamic to your interior and building up the character of your room.
However, when you’re mixing up dining chairs, you can’t do it completely randomly. In order for the dining chairs and table to look complete in the room, there needs to be a pattern or clear design running through the set.
A good trick is selecting dining chairs from the same brand and range, as this helps them to look like they belong with each other. For example, you could alternate between the lighter grey and darker grey of these chairs:
Matching the chairs’ style and design, but mixing the colour can be a great way to choose dining chairs that add an extra dynamic to your room.
You could also try pairing a bench on one side of the table, with chairs on the other. This can be good for achieving a perfect balance between maximising space, but ensuring everyone is comfortable; sometimes elderly friends or relatives can’t sit on benches as they don’t offer enough support.
Instead of matching style and changing colour, you could match colour and material and change the style. For example, these two leather upholstered dining room chairs would look great together, despite being different styles.
When mixing and matching. ensure that both chairs look good with the dining table and with each other!
How many of each style of chair
It’s often a good idea to have half the chairs in one style and half the chairs in the other, alternating them around the dining table. However, there are other combinations that also work. For example, you could have one variety of chair on each long side and the other variety of chair at the ends of the table. Or have just a few of the chairs in different colours to create an asymmetrical effect.
Common Dining Chair Questions
If you still have questions, check out these FAQs for even more tips on how to choose dining room chairs.
Do chairs have to match the dining table?
Chairs definitely don’t have to match dining tables. It can look great to have a matching table/chair set, but mismatching creates extra character and style. You could mismatch by colour, style or material. The real trick is to make the chairs and tables match the room as a whole.
For example, a room that’s mainly painted white will look great with white dining room chairs, even if the table is dark wood.
Are dining chairs a standard height?
While there isn’t an industry-standard height to dining chairs, the average dining table is about 30 inches. Most chair manufacturers recognise this and therefore make chairs about 18 inches high. It’s worth noting that the height of the back of the chair can vary considerably.
How long should dining chairs last?
It depends on the material and the cost, but anywhere between five to twenty years. Chairs made from solid wood, like oak, are the longest-lasting and can look great for decades. These are followed by pine, which is a softer wood, and then by plastic chairs.
It also depends on the quality of manufacturing. Dining room chairs from Wood Furniture Store are excellent quality and will last for years. The thickness of the frame also has an impact – the thicker the frame, the longer the chair will last.
Should dining chairs match bar stools?
There’s no need to match dining chairs and bar stools precisely – in fact, it can look better if they aren’t an exact match. Instead, choose colours and materials that complement each other – for example, those from the same manufacturer or range. The important thing is ensuring the room as a whole looks like one complete dining space.
Should dining chairs have arms?
It’s completely your decision whether you choose dining room chairs with arms or without. Customarily, the chair at the head of the table has arms, while the others do not, but this is largely due to the space available. Chairs without arms often take up less space, meaning you can squeeze in more chairs – especially if you have extra guests over!
Choosing dining room chairs can be a lot of fun, especially once you’ve got them around your table in your home! Follow our top tricks and tips from the Wood Furniture Store to get your dining room looking fantastic.