Furniture Selection Tips: Dining Chairs Edition
Ask any furniture designer what their favorite piece of household furniture is, and odds are good they’ll say “a dining chair.” A good dining chair is a sculpture you can sit on. For this edition of Furniture Selection Tips, we’ll be looking into how to choose — and style — the perfect set of dining chairs for your home. The rules are there are no rules. But there are some useful guidelines that will help your space feel cohesive without being matchy-matchy. Unless that’s your look — matching sets are always in style.
WHAT’S YOUR TYPE?
Furniture exudes personality. The curve of an arm, the kind of leg on a couch, the depth of a cushion — all of these factors weigh in to the way a chair feels. And we’re not just talking comfort level. Before you can accurately decide on what kind of chair you want, think about your home’s general vibe. Cool, calm, and collected? Funky and energetic? Such feelings will help to determine things like the color and construction of your chair. A chill space pairs well with rounded corners and flowy construction; vibey and eclectic does well with sharp angles and uncommon details. We get really into the whole “how to choose furniture color” in our eponymous blog post, but in short, keep in step with the intention of your space.
DINING CHAIR BASICS
Regardless of how you plan to mix/match/otherwise choose your dining chair set, a few foundational elements will make the whole design look and feel cohesive. Seat height is crucial to the longevity of your picks. Imagine your guests gathered round the table and ready to enjoy a delicious meal… but with every person at a different height. Like a mushroom patch. To avoid this, try to keep about 10 inches of space between the top of the seat and the bottom of the table. You also want to have about three feet of space between the diner and the nearest wall. That, of course, is best-case scenario. We understand that apartment living is a thing.
Next, think about the “visual weight” a particular chair design will bring to your space. Visual weight refers to how heavy or light a piece of furniture looks in your space: the same chair set in white and black will have different impacts on your space. Typically, the more dark and heavy a piece, the more space it needs to “breathe” — otherwise the space can become cluttered.
Once you’ve measured out your ideal seat-height, start looking for a chair made from high-quality materials, and joined with screws or proper joints. Investing in natural materials, such as wood, high-quality veneer, or metals typically makes for a longer-lasting, better-quality piece. And while material matters, a chair is only as good as its joints. The less complex the attachment the better.
Finally: check out reviews on the company or product. Reviews are typically super-specific about the quality of a product, and are usually posted by people who did a considerable amount of research before they purchased. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook also make it simple to connect with buyers and ask them specific questions.
Your dining chairs will likely act as additional seating all over your house. Unexpected Uncle shows up to Thanksgiving? Every friend who RSVP’d to movie night actually attends? Your dining chairs are coming to the rescue. As such, they’ve got to play some pretty serious double duty. When you’re choosing your dining room chairs, keep an eye to the overarching style of your home. What are the major design themes of your space? Spare, rustic details? Bohemian cane and wicker details? Heavy, traditional silhouettes? Whatever theme you identify, try to echo it in the shape of your chosen dining chair set. You’ll be happy you took the time when you’re hauling two extra chairs into the living room on Superbowl Sunday.
MIS-MATCHY DINING CHAIRS
Mismatched chairs are a great way of adding drama or spark. If you’re looking to have a few different styles of chairs around your table, there are some factors that will keep your selections looking eclectic but put-together.
Legs first. The shape of the chair legs will go a long way in creating cohesion. In general, the thinner the leg, the more airy and contemporary the chair style. A heavy, thick leg typically imbues a space with a more traditional feel.
While color is personal and specific to space, color consistency helps to create visual cohesion. If you plan to go with mismatched chairs, a controlled palette will keep the mismatched chairs subtle. Want something more “medium-subtle?” Stick to a single shape and vary the colors, or to one bold color, going crazy with shape. For utter maximalism, just pick any chair at all — but make sure that the seat is 10-inches from the bottom of the table. Sacrificing function for style seems like a great idea until your BFF’s new boyfriend can’t pull his seat up to the table.
When everyone’s clinking glasses and ready to tuck into dinner, your dining chair selection probably won’t be top of mind. It’s simply another thoughtful element of your home. Of course, your home is a sum of its parts, and the effort put into making the space reflect your family doesn’t go unnoticed. It envelopes your people and offers a sense of place that is deeply connected to your values. So, cheers.