By Ande Waggener
How do you pick from different types of dining chairs? You do it by knowing and understanding your options.
Different types of dining chairs will have an impact on both the look and feel of your dining room. Because of this, you need to know the strengths of weaknesses of the various styles of dining chairs.
Here are the seven most common dining room chair styles and what you need to know about what they could add to (or detract from) your dining area.
1. Wood Dining Chairs
When I think of dining chairs, my first thought is of wood dining chairs. Most traditional dining room sets have wood dining chairs. However, wood dining chairs can work in contemporary dining rooms as well. In fact, varying in style and size, of course, wood dining chairs can fit in anything from super-casual picnic-inspired dining spaces to upscale formal dining rooms. The key to fitting wood chairs to their space is focusing on the chair’s details. Wood chairs with ornate styling belong in more traditional dining rooms. Simpler, more organic wood chairs can work in modern, casual, or country dining rooms.
Although wood chairs can have comfort issues (they can feel awfully hard when a meal lasts awhile), they are the champions of creating spacious dining spaces. If your dining room is on the small size, wood dining chairs will give the room an open feel.
2. Wood Dining Chairs with Upholstered Seats
Wood dining chairs with upholstered seats are a step up from the basic comfort level of wood chairs. Upholstered seats also bring color and texture into a dining space that could be lacking with all wood dining furniture. When you have upholstered seats, you can easily change or update the look of your dining room set by switching out the upholstery.
In spite of the upholstery, these chairs are similar in visual weight to all wood dining chairs, so they will also work well in tighter dining rooms. Wood chairs with upholstered seats are good choices if you occasionally give large dinner parties. You can place extra chairs against the walls of your dining room when they’re not needed for guests.
3. Upholstered Armchair Dining Chairs
Better than wood chairs with upholstered seats, upholstered armchairs are ideal if you love having long, lingering meals with friends or family. These dining chairs almost bring the living room into the dining room.
Because they have such a large fabric presence, you can get a lot of design impact in your dining room with armchairs. Both the chair’s style and its fabric’s color and pattern can determine the feel of your dining space.
Although these chairs are the kings and queens of style and comfort in a dining room, they do have a downside; they require a lot of space. Armchairs take up far more room than wood chairs, and you need a large table to accommodate them. If you don’t have room for a big table, a round table is your next best option. Armchairs set at a small round table will give you more elbow room than armchairs set at a small square table. No matter your table size, though, armchairs will dominate a dining room space. So it’s best if you have a relatively open dining space for these chairs.
4. Armless Upholstered Dining Chairs
One of the most well-known dining room chair style names is the Parsons Chair. Plain, cushioned, and free of any cumbersome arms, this chair style is a popular modern dining room chair. It’s no wonder why. Slender enough to fit around most tables in most dining rooms, this type of chair, and other armless upholstered dining chairs, provides everything you want from a dining room chair. It doesn’t take up a ton of space like the upholstered armchair, and yet it provides plenty of comfort. It’s uncomplicated, and yet it’s also stylish.
It’s also incredibly versatile in terms of merging into various design styles. Depending on the type of fabric used for the upholstery and the style and material of the legs, this type of chair can take a seat in any type of dining room, from avant-garde to casual country.
5. Modern Dining Chairs
Modern dining chairs, although they can be made of wood, are often constructed of plastic or metal. Generally featuring shorter backs, these types of dining chairs have a low profile and a fluid form. Although they’re nearly always interior design eye candy that makes an impact in a dining space, they can be screamingly uncomfortable (kind of like stiletto heels). If you plan to use your dining room, but you still want a smart modern look, try to find modern chairs that at least feature a bit of padding in the seat.
6. Cantilevered Dining Chairs
One of the most fun types of dining chairs is the cantilevered dining chair. Introduced in the 1920s, this type of chair sits apart from other dining chairs in that isn't supported by the usual four legs. Instead, the seat is held up by a single tubular leg that’s bent into an L-shape and attached to one side of the chair’s seat. This type of chair can either be plain wood, metal, or plastic, or it can be upholstered. Because of its clean lines, this type of chair is great for modern dining rooms, and it won’t overcrowd small dining spaces. Upholstered versions of this dining chair can be quite comfortable.
7. Slipcovered Dining Chairs
If you like the idea of being able to frequently switch out the color and style of your dining chairs, slipcovered dining chairs might be your best choice. These chairs can be pretty much any style of wood or metal chair to start, but then they are covered with a sort of chair “dress.” Under the fabric, the chair can be as comfortable (or not) as you want. The style of the “dress” then determines the style of the chair. Although slipcovered chairs tend to have a more feminine, romantic look no matter what fabric or fabric styling is used, you can achieve a more tailored modern feel with crisp stripes and straight pleated fabric draping. The looser your slipcovers are, the more casual they’ll be. Add a tie or a bow to the back, and you’ll definitely have a cottage or country feel.
These seven dining room chair styles run the gamut from vintage to ultra-modern. Having an understanding of the style and comfort levels of these types will help you choose the best chair for your dining room. To know what’s right for you, simply assess your room’s design style and its size and then be clear about what your goal is with your dining space. More time there means more comfort is needed in your furniture.
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