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How to Choose a Dining Room Chair (Dining Room Chair Buying Guide)

The dining room is often a point of pride for people who like having guests over for dinner. And a big part of a great dining room is the ability to comfortably seat everyone. If this is a goal of yours, you need to buy dining room chairs that you’ll be excited to show off during your next dinner party. Here’s what to consider before you shop for chairs.

Find Chairs That Will Fit the Space You Have

The size of your dining room chairs is a pretty big deal, since you need them to fit perfectly around your table. The perfect dining chair style, then, will depend on the measurements.
Before you buy any chairs, measure the room where you’ll put them, as well as the table. You’ll need to take both width and height into consideration. 
As you do so, keep in mind that the average dining room chair is about 18 inches from floor to seat, and the typical table is about 30 inches tall. Unless your table happens to be taller than that, you should stick with chairs that are about 18 inches tall to ensure enough leg room for everyone.
Next, consider chair width. The average chair is about 18 to 20 inches across, though dining chairs with arms might be up to 6 inches wider than that. But as you determine whether you should go wider or narrower than this, calculate how many chairs you can fit on each side—which will depend on the size of your table. 
In general, a 72-inch long rectangular or oval table can fit 6 people, while a 96-inch long table can seat 8 and a 120-inch long table can fit 10.
If your table is round or square and measures up to 48 inches, it will fit 4 people. If it’s 60 inches, it can accommodate 6, and that number goes up to 8 if it’s 72 inches.

If your table is an odd size or shape, the rule of thumb is that you need at least 6 inches between each chair for some elbow room. And you need to leave 36 inches between the chairs and any walls or other dining room furniture, unless you’re prepared for your guests to get stuck every time they try to leave the table!

Choose Material That Matches Your Needs

Dining room chairs come in all kinds of materials, so it can be hard to narrow down the right one for your home. 
Some of the most common options are wood, metal and upholstered.
Wood dining chairs are perfect for the home that has a traditional look and feel, especially if they’re surrounded by other wood furnishings. You can get these with or without wooden arms or upholstered seats and backs, depending on how formal you want them to look.
On the other hand, metal dining chairs have a contemporary feel, so they can modernize any space. Plus, they’re typically lightweight so you can easily pick them up and put them in another room or even outside when necessary. And they’re easy to keep clean, as you can just wipe down the metal surface to take care of any spills.
Finally, upholstered dining chairs provide hours of comfort for your guests, thanks to plenty of padding on the seat, back or both. You can make your upholstered chairs look more lavish with little details, like button tufting and padded arms. Or you can keep the look more casual with simple, tailored upholstery. Either way, you’ll end up with comfortable chairs that invite your guests to sit down and stay awhile.

Select the Style You Want for Your Dining Room

After you choose chairs that are the right size and made of the material you most want for your dining room, focus on the design. This means paying attention to colors and patterns that best suit your home. If most of your furnishings and the paint on your walls are in neutral colors, you might want beige, white or light brown chairs for your dining room. Of course, this could also be a great time to add some color to the room with chairs that are teal, orange or any other bright hue.
Now is also the time to choose a pattern, if you’d like a little more personality from your chairs. Instead of going with a solid color, maybe pick a paisley print. You can even go a little further and show off your fun side with zebra stripes or a similar pattern.

Types of Dining Chairs

A few common types of dining chairs include:

  • Skirted chairs, which feature a base skirt made of linen to cover the chair's legs.
  • Parsons chairs, which are armless and upholstered, usually with visible metal or wood legs.
  • Slipper chairs, which are similar to Parsons chairs except for the base, which is usually skirted or covered.
  • Windsor chairs, which are wood or metal and feature a rounded-top backrest with exposed slats.
  • Armless chairs, or any chair type without arms.
  • With arms chairs, or any chair type with arms.
  • Traditional chairs, which feature exposed legs, a rectangular backrest, arms and an upholstered seat.

Dining Room Chair Styles

The types listed above come in an array of styles. Some of the more popular dining room chair styles include traditional (which is also a type, see above), modern, contemporary, farmhouse, industrial and rustic. Anything modern and contemporary will feature clean lines, minimal upholstery and a solid color palette; anything rustic and farmhouse will feature distressed surfaces and warm colors; anything industrial will feature lots of metal and exposed framework; and anything traditional will feature intircate patterns, curved edges and rich colors.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.