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Everything you ever wanted to know about choosing dining chairs

The LRI team have the answers to all your questions…

Blue velvet upholstered dining chairs
Mixing different coloured dining chairs can work really well – as with our pale and royal blue Hamilton chairs.

 

What dining chairs are in style right now?

Plush velvet chairs, contemporary chairs in earthy, natural fabrics, natural materials such as rattan and wicker, minimalist Scandi-style moulded chairs with beech/light wood legs and industrial and modernist styles are among the many on-trend options if you’re considering replacing your old dining chairs any time soon.

You only need google “dining chairs” to see how vast the choice is – but ultimately you want a style of chair that complements your home, décor and dining table.

How high should dining chairs be?

The height of the actual chair and the seat height are both important. A seat that’s too high or too low for the surface you’re eating on is uncomfortable, plus of course, to encourage the flow conversation around the table, it helps if guests are on the same level!

Most dining tables are about 76cm (30in) high. As a rule, most chair seats are around 46cm (18in) high, which allows about 30cm (12in) of space for your body under the table. (Here at LRI our chair seats are all 47-48cm in height, but they’re all designed to fit perfectly under any of our tables, so that takes away a bit of guesswork!)

The height of the back of the chair plays an important role in ensuring your dining table and chairs look in proportion to each other and the space they’re in – you want them to complement one another and look pleasing to the eye.

You might choose high-backed seats if they’re buttoned or beautifully shaped to make a statement around the table. If you don’t want the clutter of seat backs and want to create a feeling of open, airy space around the table, lower is better.

That said, seat backs don’t want to be so low that they slide under the dining table – they need to be a minimum of 10cm higher than your table top.

 
Our tall-backed Burford dining chairs are designed to make an impact around the dining table. Their buttoned upholstery and shapely legs add elegance and style.

 

 

Do all the chair backs need to be the same height?

Not necessarily – a pair of statement chairs at both ends of a rectangular table which are slightly higher than the side chairs, for example, can look fabulous. Just bear in mind that the overall balance needs to look right. Too big a height difference between chairs might look odd, and a row of taller side chairs shouldn’t dwarf smaller chairs either end.

Would we put different heights around a round table? Probably not, because they’d just interrupt the circular, fluid form of the table.

How wide should dining chairs be?

Most dining chairs are about 45-50cm (18-20in) wide, but it often depends on the style of chair. (Our Flore Bistro chairs are our narrowest at 45cm/18in, for example, while our stately wing-backed Kingsley chairs, which tend to be used at each end of the table, are a plump 55cm/21.5in wide).

To avoid your guests feeling cramped and bumping elbows at dinner, you should allow around 60-76cm (24-30in) of space for each chair. This will give them a comfortable amount of room to eat and manoeuvre.

Which are the most comfortable dining chairs?

Sitting, chatting, wining and dining over several hours is infinitely more enjoyable when you have a padded seat and supportive chair. So, unless you want rid of your guests earlier, it’s worth investing in well-constructed frames and quality materials and upholstery (which is what we’re all about at LRI!)

Let’s face it, an all-upholstered dining chair is simply going to be more comfortable – it’s a bit like an armchair or sofa, but smaller. If you don’t want to opt for upholstery, a degree of seat padding and a sturdy back are musts.

The depth of the chair is also important: you should be able to sit back comfortably with a couple of inches between the seat and the backs of your knees.

What style of dining chairs will go with a glass table?

The USP of glass-topped tables is that you can see through them – which means that the entire dining chair is pretty much on display even when tucked under the table.

If you like a pared-back, restful scheme, consider chairs that blend into the room: upholstered in neutral tones perhaps; while if you want more colour or impact, your dining chairs could be bold and attention-grabbing, such as vibrant bucket chairs or glossy moulded plastic ones.

What style of dining chair is best for a wooden table?

Dining chairs in the same wood as the dining table – which is often the case with a dining set – are a traditionally safe option but it’s a look that can come across as a bit staid.

The secret is to add contrast to break up the wood a bit, for example by choosing upholstered chairs which have a softer look against the wood or by using different textures or materials.

Our Flore Bistro chairs, for example, have frames made from the same weathered oak as our dining tables, but their padded rattan seats add interest and variation from the oak.

Of course, dining chairs don’t have to be wood – it’s perfectly fine to have moulded plastic, metal or vintage or antique chairs. Whatever floats your boat!

 Flore Bistro weathered oak chairs
The padded rattan seats of our Flore Bistro chairs provide a textural contrast to the weathered oak look, plus the green cushions add vibrancy.

 

Does it look better to have a set of matching dining chairs – or to mix them up?

Again, this is down to personal preference. Some people like to have a more coordinated look, others prefer an eclectic, less rigid approach.

Is it OK to mix different woods, for example to have an oak dining table and pine – or even dark wood – chairs?

Yes – and no! Most interior designers would recommend pairing similar-toned woods. Some woods have warm tones, like teak, maple and cherry for example; others have cool tones, like oak, pine and ash.

For us at LRI, our weathered oak dining tables have such a distinctive grain and cool-to-grey tone that they’re tricky to match with other woods. We think our weathered oak dining chairs are the best possible match – and pine or dark wood dining chairs wouldn’t be our choice. That’s not to say that metal or modern moulded chairs wouldn’t work, though.

Won’t upholstered dining chairs get grubby over time?

If you protect your upholstery when it’s new by spraying it with Scotchguard or a similar stain-prevention product, you should be able to keep upholstered chairs in good condition. If they’re going to be used daily by young children who are prone to clambering all over them, upholstery might not be the best option.

Can I mix up upholstery colours… what about materials?

The same design of chair can look great in different colours, or even fabrics. Our Hamilton upholstered dining chairs, for example, come in royal and pale blue velvets which look stunning together. We have a set on display in our showroom with our Belvedere dining table – pale blue on the ends and royal blue in the middle – which is always much admired by our showroom visitors.

Mixing materials can sometimes work – a couple of leather chairs at the ends of the table and upholstered ones either side, for example, but care is needed to achieve a cohesive look. We tend to stick to either velvets or linen around our tables because we think this looks the most harmonious.

Are La Residence Interiors’ dining chairs fully assembled or do I need to put the legs on?

Our chairs are all built as one sturdy frame, so there’s no assembly needed.

Can you use dining chairs elsewhere in the home?

Definitely. Stylish dining chairs make wonderful occasional chairs and can be used in a living area, hall or bedroom – particularly useful if you have an extending dining table and only need to use the extra chairs occasionally.

 Extending dining table and upholstered oatmeal chairs
Our Devonshire chairs fit perfectly around the fully extended Brunswick table – and can be used as occasional chairs when not needed.

 

What do I do if I spill red wine on my upholstered dining chair?

Clean the fabric immediately if a spillage occurs to avoid permanent staining. Use a clean, dry, absorbent cotton cloth to blot up the spill. If the stain is still visible, we recommend professional cleaning of the item. For more information on fabric care see our Caring for your furniture page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 08, 2021 by Mandy Lebentz
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