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How to Pick the Best Dining Room Chair

Finding the perfect dining room chair for your home is a delicate balance of style, durability, and comfort. You need to consider how it fits, quite literally, with your dining room table. And your dining chairs are the best chance to add a unique twist to your room, with special finishes and upholstery.

How to Pick the Best Dining Room Chair

If all this seems like more than you can contend with, don’t worry.  When buying new furniture, you can often find tables paired with matching chairs. Going with a dining set will take the risk of messed-up measurements away.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to personalize either. Many designers give a wide range of upholstery or finish options with sets.

But, if you are determined to find that perfect set on your own or have a table you simply can’t part with, here are our recommendations on picking the best dining room chair.

1. Measure for Chair Height

When selecting chairs for a dining room table, the worst mistake you can make is not leaving yourself enough room to sit comfortably. Most tables and chairs come at standard heights, 30 and 18 inches, respectively. But don’t just assume every option is going to work together.

Generally speaking, you want to ensure you have about a foot of space between your chair and the closest bit of the table. For some, this will be the underside of the tabletop. For others, you will have a table apron along the sides that necessitate getting a shorter chair for clearance.

While you have the tape measure out, get a range for how high your chair backs should be. There isn’t really a max height to worry about.

The higher the chair back, the more formal it will feel, but going too short compared to the tabletop can look odd. Whatever your table height is, add at least 2-3 inches. This measurement is the minimum you want your chair backs to be.

2. Decide on Arms

The traditional look for dining rooms, formal and informal, is to have two armchairs at the ends and chairs at the sides of the same style, minus the arms. If your dining room is a hub for activity and people constantly move in or out of chairs, you may want to skip the armrests entirely. Going for side chairs all the way around makes sliding into and out of chairs so much easier.

But if you have a more formal dining space, arms on chairs at the head of the table or all the way around can give a few distinct benefits, including:

  • Additional support and comfort if you are sitting for an extended period of time
  • Arms can help balance out space in large rooms
  • Make sitting and standing easier for elderly or differently-abled people who need something to brace on

Just like you need to make sure your legs can fit under the table when seated. If you opt for a chair style with arms, they need to fit under the table. Otherwise, you won’t be able to push the chairs in when not in use.

You don’t need much clearance, just enough that it moves under smoothly and doesn’t scratch against the table underside or apron.

3. Pick Your Style

If you have a dedicated dining room, it may benefit from the more formal appearance of a high-backed or Parsons-style chair. Both are timelessly classic in appearance and are easily protected by chair covers that you can swap out for special occasions. For those who want a bit of an eclectic flair, go with a vintage French style with a bold fabric.

Modern designs that incorporate industrial or mid-century aesthetics are an excellent choice for those who want some formal feel while retaining high durability and functionality in the space. Modern options give you some of the broadest flexibility for material choices, with metal, wood, and composites all being very at home in this.

You can’t beat traditional wood chairs for those who want an automatically lived-in and informal feel in even a new dining room. From traditional bentwood designs and Windsors, there are more options here than one can count.

4. Choose a Material

You will want your dining chairs to match your table aesthetically. The chairs and tables don’t need to be part of a set, but a good rule of thumb is to use the same type of material, like metal or wood, in both. When shopping around, here are the top three materials you are likely to find:

  • Wood: The most common furniture building material for a reason, wood has an outstanding balance of aesthetic choices, durability, and repairability.
  • Metal: Not just for industrial settings, metal-based chairs give you the most options for topper materials, a slim profile, a modern look, and are incredibly sturdy and resistant to environmental damage.
  • Plastic: Plastic composites can be a bold choice with odd shapes and vibrant color options. But chairs made of plastics are more likely to scratch or degrade in non-ideal environments.

For a more traditional style, go with wood. If your dining room leans toward more modern tastes, metal or plastic is recommended. Just keep in mind durability. If you have pets, kids, or live in a humid environment, metal might just be the ticket.

Style for Any Occasion

Whether you want to furnish a formal or daily use dining room, nothing beats the stunning elegance and durability of handcrafted metal furniture. Johnston Casuals has been making steel furniture for over 40 years for customers all over the world.  Every piece is as much a piece of art as it is functional.

We have a full range of dining chair options. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for something more traditional, sleek and modern, or a retro style. We have something for everyone and any occasion. Visit a dealer near you or browse our online catalog to start your journey for a dining room that will last a lifetime.

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