Selecting Dining Room Chairs – Size, Material & Style

The dining room is an odd little room in our homes. Some homes have large rooms furnished with a dining table, 8 chairs and a hutch full of china. Other homes call a corner of the kitchen the dining room. Whatever type of dining room you have they all have something in common and that is a table and chairs. Selecting dining room chairs requires a little bit of knowledge regarding size, material and style.

Size — while modern dining room tables may differ in size depending on the shape and size of your dining space, most dining room chairs have some things in common. A standard dining room table is about 30 inches high. Therefore, a standard dining room chair is about 16-18 inches from the floor to the chair seat. This allows roughly 12 inches from the seat cushion to the top of the table allowing for plenty of leg room. The seat is usually 15-18 inches deep which will accommodate most any size person comfortably. The height of the back of the chair is a personal choice. However, you will want to take into consideration the height of the ceiling in your room. A chair with a very high back in a room with a very low ceiling may look out of proportion. Conversely, placing a low back chair in a room with 12 foot ceilings will make the chairs look miniature in size. Be sure to consider the appearance and scale of your table and chairs. It is not a good idea to place frail bentwood chairs next to a solid, mission style table. By the same token, surrounding a glass table with heavy, Spanish colonial chairs is probably not the right choice.

Material — do you want solid wood chairs, fully upholstered chairs, metal chairs etc.? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If you have chosen a matching table and chairs then the decision has been made for you. However, many people elect to find a table first and look for chairs later. This makes for a much more interesting set of furniture. But our dining room chairs take much more of a beating than the table. People will be sitting on these chairs, dropping food on these chairs, and placing hands and maybe even feet on these chairs. Before considering what type of covering you will want it is important to choose the “frame” of the chair. Hardwoods such as maple, oak and ash are the best choices as they can withstand the weight of people’s bodies and will resist splintering. Depending on how often you will use your dining room chairs will determine what type of material you would like them covered in. If your chairs are used only during holidays and on special occasions you have more freedom in material choice. You can choose a beautifully upholstered chair that can be spot cleaned if necessary. But if your chairs are to be used on a daily basis you will want to consider a material that is more user-friendly. An all wood chair with fabric cushions might be a better choice. The cushions can easily be replaced if they become heavily soiled or you just grow tired of the fabric. Keep in mind that any fabric used should be stain resistant making it easy to clean when necessary.

Style — there is no right or wrong when it comes to style. If you like it then it works. But there are some guidelines that might make selecting dining room chairs a little easier. Your dining room table may already dictate a style of chair. If it is a sleek and modern glass table it is unlikely you will want to place a heavy wooden chair next to it. However, a set of fully upholstered armchairs in a bright and contemporary print may be just the ticket. Upholstering the same chairs in an ultrasuede will make a statement in your dining room. If Arts and Crafts or Mission is your style then you will want to choose a heavy oak chair. For more comfort and color you can always add a seat cushion. An eclectic dining room will allow you to mix and match your chair styles to your table. A painted wooden table surrounded by wooden chairs of different styles can be a charming look. Tying on cushions in coordinating prints will add to the country feel.

It is up to you to decide whether you would like armchairs, chairs with no arms or a combination of the two. Many people choose to place two armchairs at the ends of the table as host and hostess chairs while the guest chairs have no arms. Not only does this distinguish the host and hostess, it also makes it easier for guests to be seated without stumbling over the arms of the other chairs.

Whether your dining room is dedicated to dining only or it serves as homework central, a bill paying station or a craft table for the kids, selecting dining room chairs is an important job. The goal is to find chairs that reflect your taste, meet the demands of your lifestyle and get the most for our money.



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