If you’re thinking about buying new dining chairs, you could be a little overwhelmed. Size. Colour. Material. Design. Budget. There are so many factors and so many designs to choose from. Worry no more. We’ve put together this dining chair buyer’s guide, with tips, tricks and considerations to answer all the important questions when buying a dining chair.
And it begins at the table.
We’re assuming your new dining chairs are for an existing table or being bought simultaneously. A lot of your decisions will be based on the way the chairs interact with your dining table. And finding chairs to match a table is easier than in reverse, especially if your choice of table is a retro or bespoke piece. If you need help selecting your new table, read our buyer’s guide here.
Perimeter: Your table’s length and width (or circumference if circular).
Table top height: From floor to the dining surface.
Each of your diners needs a minimum width of 60cm. However, the Goldilocks number is 76cm – giving ample space without feeling disconnected from other diners. Where you choose to be in that range depends on your needs, e.g. number of regular users, room space, desired aesthetic, etc. Once you’ve set the number of seats, you can determine your ideal chair width.
Look for ‘seat height’ in the chair’s product description. This is the dimension from the floor to the top of the seat. For comfortable dining, the dimension from the seat to the table top (table height minus seat height) needs to be around 25-30cm.
TIP: Take bulky table frames into consideration, as they will steal some thigh space.
Now that you know how many chairs you need and have an idea of your desired seat height and width, let’s look at your style considerations.
As upholstery experts, we love upholstered dining chairs. They elevate comfort and bring added warmth, colour and texture to your dining room. The choice does however raise cost. So, if your budget is limited, we would recommend non-upholstered designs. If you have young children and pets, these chairs are easier to maintain as well, although our high-performance treated fabrics make cleaning up spills a breeze.
DID YOU KNOW: Our upholstered chairs can be ordered from our full range of 100+ fabrics and leathers and be customised to your exact needs. Explore our customisation concept here.
Dining chairs come in a myriad of leg designs. From substantial wooden to slim-line metal. From conventional 4-leg to gravity-defying cantilevers. A good starting point is to choose a leg form that compliments your table’s. And if your chairs and table include the same materials types, make sure they match. For example, avoid pairing dark wood chair legs with a blond wood table top.
If your table has a statement pedestal base, don’t hide it behind bulky chair legs. Give it the attention it deserves and choose minimal legs in a dark tone.
TIP: Need to store some chairs away? Choose a stackable design.
Armchairs are great for ramping up comfort and often give dining rooms a more formal and dramatic feel. They also make leaving the table easier for the elderly or those with back issues. Armrest designs are often wider than armless alternatives, so double check your seat spacing. And do check the armrest height: too tall and your chair won’t tuck in under your table top.
TIP: An easy design trick for rectangular tables – choose an armrest design for the table heads, and the same chair without armrests for the lengths.
The backrest is very much a defining element of your chair and the dining environment it helps form. For a rather formal expression, choose a sleek and tall design, and double-down on the aesthetic with luxurious leather. To give your space a more relaxed feel, go for welcoming organic curves like those of our bestseller, the Adelaide chair. Or create a striking counterbalance to a clean, pared-down table with a sculptural form like the Ottawa chair by Karim Rashid.
For a relaxed and communal setup, you could consider a bench. They’re great for squeezing guests in for big get-togethers. And can live a second life when stood against a large wall. Our London bench can be tailored to your exact needs. Shelf or no shelf? Upholstered cushion or non-upholstered seat. Back rest or no backrest? The choice is yours.
Matching dining chair sets have been the go-to for centuries. When done right, the look is effortlessly elegant and harmonious. But in recent years, more of us are breaking the rule and mixing designs. An easy way into the trend is to work with two sets. So, on a square table, you would place one set of chairs at opposing sides, and another set at the remaining. For even more individuality, play with different designs all round in a range of complementary colours.
TIP: The fully mixed look is tricky to pull off. Speak to our Interior Designers for help.
We recommend visiting a store to try out your shortlisted designs. Take the chair and gently wiggle the backrest. The design should feel solidly constructed without any bending. If buying a design off the shop floor, run your hands over the surfaces checking for imperfections or sharp edges. Finally take a seat. Resist the urge to jump up after a few seconds. Stay for however long you need to be sure that you have found the chair of your dreams.
At your local store you can try out all you want and have a talk with your local experts. Our experts understand that buying a dining chair is no simple decision. They are ready to answer any questions. And can help you tailor your chair’s colours, surfaces and upholstery to match your lifestyle, budget and taste.
Browse our large selection of dining chairs here and get up close with contemporary chairs for the dining space – and remember most designs can be made to fit your personal taste.
The iconic Adelaide chair is all about curves, comfort and character. With a graceful, organic form and sublime comfort this modern chair will set an elegant tone in your home.
Our Interior designers would love to add their free input to your design selection and customization. Visit us for free styling advice or book a no-obligation talk today.
Look. Touch. Sit. Lounge. Visit us in our stores, touch the materials, try out all the furniture and let our talented in store teams help you find the right furniture for you.