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Dining chair buying guide

Dining chair buying guide

Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester

Guide written by:

Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester

13 guides

Dining chairs should be designed with comfort and style in mind. With plenty of materials on offer, it's down to you pick something that matches your needs and your dining room décor. But you'll also have to think about factors like seat height, backrests, style and colour. Read on to find the perfect dining chairs.

Important features

  • Seat height and comfort
  • Backrest height
  • Materials
  • Style and armrests
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It goes without saying that dining room chairs need to be comfortable and durable and this largely depends on the materials used to make the seat and structure of the chair. From wood and plastic to metal, resin, leather and fabric, there's a wide range of choice. Your decision will ultimately come down to your budget as well as any requirements you have in terms of care or strength. 

For example, if you have children, you might want to choose chairs made of a stain-resistant fabric; if you have cats, it's best to choose a material that can withstand scratching. It's also important to think about seat height which should be chosen to match the height of the dining table and its users. 

The height of the backrest impacts both the style and comfort of your dining set, especially if you like to enjoy long meals with family and friends.

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Dining chairs and accessories

Comfort is key when it comes to picking out a dining room chair, whether you're hoping to entertain family or friends. 

Seat comfort

Of course a cushioned or padded seat will be more comfortable than a hard wooden seat. Similarly, a fabric or leather seat covering will offer greater comfort than materials like faux leather which tends to stick to the skin. It's important to find a good balance between style, comfort and budget

You also have the option to add cushions or seat pads to make your seats more comfortable.

Backrest height

The higher the backrest, the more comfortable it will be to lean against. This is especially important if you like to have long meals or suffer from back pain. That said, be aware that seats with high backrests look a bit bulkier and tend to be more traditional in style while chairs with low backrests look more streamlined and modern, and take up less space.

Armrests or no armrests?

Armrests can transform a dining chair into a comfy armchair and will of course provide more comfort. However, they also increase the amount of space the chair takes up. This means you won't be able to fit as many chairs around the dining table. What's more, it can be tricky to slide the chairs under the tabletop so be sure to check the height of the armrests before purchase. A good option can be to invest in two dining chairs with armrests for each end of the table and pick out matching dining chairs without armrests for the rest of the table.

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Dining chairs

The dimensions of a dining room chair are determined largely by seat height which must match the height of the dining table. The same goes for the number of dining chairs you need to purchase.

Seat height

The seat height of a dining room chair needs to be around 25 to 30 cm lower than the height of your table, but it also depends on your own height. 

  • A standard dining table measures roughly 75 cm in height meaning your seat height should sit around 45 cm
  • If you have a taller table (90 cm, for example), seat height can increase to 60 to 65 cm
  • Bar tables measuring 110 cm or more in height should be paired with a seat height of 80 cm+.

If you plan to use your dining room chairs for a range of purposes, you can always go for height-adjustable chairs

How many dining chairs do I need?

The number of dining chairs you need depends on the shape and size of the dining table. A round dining table will generally accommodate about four chairs while a large rectangular dining table can accommodate eight chairs on average.

If you have any doubts, it's best to go for fewer chairs at the risk of crowding your space. If you hope to host friends or family from time to time, go for a minimum of six chairs. You can always store any extra chairs you don't use on a daily basis in another room. In this case, go for stackable or foldable chairs.

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Dining table sets

Dining chairs come in many different materials. Your choice will play a role in both the style and comfort of the chair. 

Wooden dining chairs

Warm, durable and timeless, wooden dining chairs come in all sorts of species including pine, ash, walnut, and so on. Whether you go for natural wood tones with visible grain or painted chairs, wooden chairs can be paired with any type of table. 

Plastic dining chairs

Lightweight and very easy to maintain, plastic dining chairs come in a multitude of colours and shapes, and can be a great budget option. 

Metal dining chairs

Contemporary and often minimalist in style, metal chairs can look a little cold so be sure to match them carefully to the rest of your dining room furniture. It's also worth noting that aluminium and steel are scratch-sensitive. 

Wrought iron chairs

Very hardwearing, wrought iron dining chairs are perfect for vintage-style homes. But bear in mind that these heavy chairs are hard to move around. 

Wicker or resin wicker dining chairs

Wicker or resin wicker chairs tend to be warm and rustic in appearance. However, these chairs won't match every table nor every interior, especially as they tend to be quite bulky. 

Leather dining chairs

Leather dining chairs are chic and comfortable since the seat itself is padded. However, they are expensive. What's more, leather is a fairly delicate material and must be cared for properly. Faux leather is less expensive but it's also less durable and tends to stick to the skin. 

Fabric dining chairs

Available in a wide range of colours and patterns fabric dining chairs are padded and comfortable, but are at risk of staining unless you go for microfibre fabric. Additionally, they can get ruined by pets' claws.

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Matching dining chairs to dining tables

The style of a dining room chair should work well with your dining room table as well as the rest of the room for a seamless and well-balanced design. 

Here is some design inspiration to help you decide:

  • Traditional or rustic style: with wooden chairs, for example (which also work perfectly with a Scandi-style interior). 
  • Industrial style with metal chairs with an unfinished look.  
  • Contemporary style with leather chairs and low backrests.

Mix-and-match chairs for a unique look 

Another option which is particularly on trend at the moment is to choose chairs that deliberately clash with your table or to pick mismatching chairs to give a stylish edge to your dining room. There are a few different ways to achieve this look: 

  • Go for matching styles but contrasting colours.
  • Mismatch different chair shapes.
  • Combine a wooden dining table with metal dining chairs or a glass table with plastic chairs, and so on.  

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Dining table sets

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Guide written by:

Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester, 13 guides

Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester

I have been crafty since my childhood, I have always been fond of new tools and other small practical machines. Beyond my interest in tools and materials, I am interested in building of all types. My professional experience as an artisan craftswoman, allows me to work with a material that’s both noble and common at the same time: wood. Surrounded by carpenters and other builders, I am constantly interacting with professional and amateur wood workers, but also various kinds of manufacturing. I am also an amateur gardener, I like to cultivate my vegetable garden. You could say that summer ends under the sign of ratatouille. So, with two passions, I hope to answer your questions.

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