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Design Inspo

Different Styles of Dining Chairs for Your Dining Room

Dining chair styles don’t have to match tables. Let’s elevate the dining room with bold choices from these dining chair styles.

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Now that you have the perfect dining table for your space, it’s time to decide what type of chairs will best suit your dining table.

The good news is there are no rules! Follow your design intuition. We’ve rounded up loads of styles and separated them by features so that you’ll be armed with all of your options before you start shopping.

Consider this your dining chair guidebook. Add styles you like to your mood board and watch your dining room take shape.

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Think of Dining Chair Designs in Light of Your Table

Even if you don’t want a matching set, take a look at your dining space and dining room table before you set out to purchase the perfect chairs. Examine how heavy your table is: Could it use something equally dense, or would a lighter chair type provide good contrast to lighten the space up? Maybe you have a warm tone of wood you’d like to match or not venture too far from.

You don’t have to match the design style of your table exactly; try a more transitional type of chair or create visual interest by combining a completely different material. Once you’ve evaluated what your space needs, it’s time to pursue your options.

Consider Dining Room Chairs by Armrests

A first consideration when dining chair shopping is how your chairs will be used and who will be using them. For instance, chairs with armrests are more suited to relaxed, casual dinners that go long into the evening. Chairs without armrests are better suited for more formal affairs. Ask yourself which type of vibe you want your dining area to give off.

Armrest Chair Designs for Extra Comfort

Armchairs typically go at each end of a dining room table since no one is sitting next to you to bump elbows with. However, suppose that comfort is your primary concern, and you don’t plan to squeeze in multiple guests. In that case, you may find that your guests would appreciate dining room chairs with a comfy back and armrests all around the table for those long dinner conversations.

Side Chairs for More Room

Side chairs are armless chairs typically arranged along the sides of a long dining table. They allow more diners to squeeze in and can offer a spare, clean design alternative. Despite their name, side chairs work at any placement around the table.

Add Warmth With Upholstered Dining Chairs

Another quick way to sift through chair styles is to decide if you want the clean lines of non-upholstered pieces or the comfort or patterning of upholstered chairs.

The Timeless Appeal of Parsons Chairs

Parsons chairs were designed by the Parson School of Design in the 1930s to be clean-lined upholstered dining chairs. The simple form of this comfortable side chair allows it to inhabit many different design schemes. It’s a transitional style of chair that you can update easily by changing the upholstered seats to transition with your decor changes.

Wingback Chairs Are a Cozy Classic

Wingback chairs first came on the scene during the 1600s in England. The little wings at the top of the high upholstered backs trapped the warmth, making them perfectly suited for resting in front of a roaring fire. They lend a traditional, majestic look to the dining table.

Look for Distinctive Legs

Queen Anne for Intricate Design

Queen Anne chairs hail from the mid-1700s and are instantly recognizable thanks to elaborately carved wood splats and cabriole legs. Motifs often included scroll tops, shells, and pad feet.

Though original designs had very traditional fabric prints, Queen Anne designs have come a long way since they were first produced. To bring this early Americana darling to the 21st century, try combining them with an unexpected ikat print for a style that is anything but fussy.

King Louis Chairs for Elegance

The King Louis chair features carved wood in neoclassical lines, with column-like legs and a round, upholstered back. While less elaborate than the Queen Anne’s intricate carvings, it still conveys a sense of elegance.

Types of Dining Chairs by Features

Dining chairs come in a range of styles that may easily line up with your home’s age or architecture, but they can also transcend interior design styles to maximize their impact.

Choose a Chair by Its Back Design

An easy way to categorize chairs is to look at the style of the backrest. The materials and lines of this part of the chair’s anatomy may help you decide if it is just what your space needs.

Ladder Back Dining Chair

The ladder back chair was first made in the Middle Ages and featured a straight back with horizontal slats. The high back of the ladder back chair can have anywhere from two to six slats, usually made of solid wood, making them very durable.

Slat Back Chairs

Slat back chairs of Danish origin have a wooden frame of evenly spaced vertical slats. They can easily transition from a traditional style to a modern dining space. Some feature upholstered cushions, and others do not, allowing designers to play with patterns and textures.

Windsor Dining Chair

Windsor chairs, named after the English town where they were first produced, feature a bow back created by a special steaming process. Windsor chair backs are thin spindles or vertical slats. As a traditional dining chair, their rounded backs are the perfect foil for the straight lines of traditional decor.

Cross Back Chairs

Cross-back chairs introduce interesting geometry to a dining area. First used in French bistros, these wood dining chairs evoke a feeling of rustic charm. They’re used in a variety of design styles, from traditional to farmhouse to contemporary.

Find Your Chairs by Materials

Once you have an idea of what shape and style of chair you need, the next step is to consider your materials. Each has properties that affect weight, design style, function, and sustainability.

Wicker and Rattan

Wicker and rattan, though ancient in origin, are often associated with the Victorian era. The word Victorian may bring to mind ornate architecture and over-the-top decor, but today both wicker and rattan read as casual. They’re also versatile because they can be painted and moved from indoors to the patio. We would also be remiss not to mention these materials' environmentally friendly nature.

Upholstered Chairs

Trying new things with upholstery can help you hone your unique design style. Consider replacing the fabric of your Queen Anne dining chair with a leather seat or cover that King Louis style in bright faux leather material for a dining room with a funky edge.

It’s definitely possible to reupholster chairs yourself. However, this DIY project requires a sewing machine, staple gun, screwdrivers, and about four hours of your time (per chair). If you’re busy, leave this DIY job to the professionals.

Make it simple by dressing upholstered backs in a slipcover. Slipcovers can transform a basic wooden chair into something of a Parsons-style without investing in a whole new dining set, allowing you to refresh your space in a flash.

Solid Wood Chairs

Mid-century Eames molded plywood chairs are yet another style we haven’t already covered. The curvy Eames modern dining chair design can be worked into minimalist, rustic, and mid-century modern styles.

Another mid-century trend that remains as hot as ever is simple curved, low-backed wishbone chairs that look fabulous with Scandinavian tables and older, traditional styles.

Metal Dining Chairs

The nature of metal gives these chairs a modern, utilitarian edge, but they’re frequently used in modern farmhouse design too. Think: old-fashioned diner meets architect’s stool, and you get the vibe. Metal dining chairs can be subtle or take center stage with the Tolix-style chairs and stools associated with modern farmhouse.

Other mid-century metal designs include indoor/outdoor Bertoia-style chairs that are an airy addition to a room, lightening up a heavy dining room. Since we’re discussing metal chairs that double as outdoor seating, the classic folding chairs used in bistros are exceptionally useful when you need extra indoor or outdoor seating for guests. They are petite, clean-lined, and offer durability along with functionality.

Blend Furniture for the Perfect Dining Area

Forget the matchy-matchy dining set of years past. You are now more than equipped to select dining chairs of any type you like to round out your personal dining room decor.

Photo Credit: (Left) Bon Traveler


Creating Windsor chairs from scratch | Insider

The Last Days of Wicker | The New York Times

The wicker men: ‘People are fed up with plastic' | The Guardian

How to Find Out What Type of Wingback Chair You Have | SFGate

American Furniture, 1730–1790: Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

How to Reupholster a Chair Seat | The Spruce

Use Spoak’s desing tools to plan your new dining room setup before even clicking “add to cart.”

Date Posted
May 9, 2023



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