There’s lots to consider when picking chairs for your table
You’ve bought the table – now it’s time to find some chairs. But which to buy, how many, and in what style? With so many types to choose from, and prices ranging from inexpensive to eye-wateringly steep, it’s hard to know where to start. But don’t stress – we’ve narrowed it down. Here are our top tips for picking out the right dining chair for your space.
Alisa and Lysandra designed a stunning open plan kitchen and dining area at Albert Park with feature olive velvet dining chairs. (Photography: Lisa Cohen)
11 top tips for selecting the right dining chair:
1. First up, decide on your style
Before you do absolutely anything, have a think about what look you’re trying to achieve. This will likely dictate the type of chair you purchase. If you’re stuck for inspo, head online to Pinterest or Instagram and simply type ‘dining chairs’ into the search – save the photos you like as reference.
2. Don’t forget to measure up
Once you’ve decided on your look, it’s time to measure up. Not terribly spatially-aware? Visualise how everything will work by marking up your desired dimensions with painters’ tape on your floor (this is the best type of tape to use, as it won’t leave a sticky residue when you rip it off.) Mark out the size of your desired table, then consider the maximum space your chairs may occupy. Measure it up, and you’ve got a rough idea of the size of chair and table you’re looking at.
The Madrid Side Chair - I think we all fell in love with this dining chair when Luke and Jasmin used them in their 2020 Block dining area.
3. Will your chairs be the focus?
Deciding whether you want your chairs to be a design focus in your room will dictate the type and look you go for. For example, if you have a dark-coloured, decorative or ornate dining table, you’re probably best opting for something simple, as a counterpoint. Choosing chairs with a bold material design or interesting architectural shape will make these the focus of your room – these are best paired with a simple timber table.
4. Think about how many chairs you’ll need
Tables typically come in four-seater, six-seater and eight-seater sizes – but it’s not always that simple. Depending on the type of table you’re purchasing, you may need to buy more, or less chairs. For example, if your dining table is round, shy away from popping too many chairs around it – it will look overcrowded. Alternatively, if you’ve got a massive table, having too FEW chairs can also look wrong. It’s a balancing act.
5. Consider the table’s location
Think about where your table is going. Chairs placed around a family dinner table or outside will need to be much more durable than those used in a formal dining situation. If you’re looking for outside, consider whether they’ll be out in the elements, or safely tucked under a verandah. Wear and tear and colour fade will be considerable, so bear this in mind.
6. Factor in the height of your chair’s arms
This is an important point. A lot of dining chairs these days – especially those in a mid-century style – have arms. These might look great, but before you invest in a complete set, check that the chair and it’s armrests will fit beneath your table. If they don’t, chances are they’ll stick out significantly – you’ll need to factor this into your floor plan.
The curve of this green velvet dining chair seen in Courtney and Hans dining room "just gets elevated into something that is really cool, and contemporary,” Darren Palmer said.
7. Will material suit your lifestyle?
Upholstered dining chairs create a more formal look and have been a big design trend for a few years now. But while they look great, they may not be the most practical option for your family. If you have young children or pets, you might want to steer clear – the last thing you want is your cat using them as a scratching post, or your toddler dropping their spag bol on them every night. Timber is a much more practical option – you can always upgrade to an upholstered option down the track.
8. Choose the right timber
If you’ve decided on timber chairs, go back to your initial research – different timber types lend themselves to different design styles. If you’re opting for a Scandi/Mid-Century look, light-coloured timbers work best. If Coastal Luxe is your thing, consider a white stain. Darker timbers look great if you’re working with a heritage design, or have other antiques in the room.
Upholstered dining chairs create a more formal look and have been a big design trend for a few years now as seen here in Tess and Luke's dining room.
9. Metal works well outside – but not in full sun!
Metal dining chairs were all the rage a few years ago thanks to the Industrial look that was popular at the time. They look especially good when paired with a vintage timber table. Just remember – if you’re using them outside, keep them out of full sun. They get super hot – the last thing you want is a burnt bum!
10. Rattan looks great, but it’s not hard-wearing
Rattan and cane furniture has made a big comeback in recent years – it’s the 1970s all over again! But remember, there’s a reason you always see ratty old wicker chairs out the front on council pickup day – they don’t age particularly well. Rattan furniture has a propensity to unravel, or break, so if you’re using them around your everyday table, be aware of this.
Deb and Andy selected contemporary chairs, configured to run adjacent to their island bench in that stunning kitchen, living, dining space not to be forgotten.
11. Don’t forget you can mix and match
If budget’s a concern, or you just like the mismatched aesthetic, remember it’s perfectly fine to mix and match various vintage chairs. This look was big a few years ago, and remains popular.
Looking for the perfect chair? The Block Shop stocks an extensive range of dining chairs online now.