Not too long ago, we didn't have much choice when it came to selecting chairs for dining room tables. You simply got the chairs that went with the set. Thankfully, the days of the matchy-matchy furniture set are long gone. Here are a few tips to help you pick the best seats in the house.
To help you narrow down the chair style that will work best in your dining room, survey your home. Is its style more traditional, transitional or contemporary? Do you like formal furniture, or are you casual all the way? What look are you going for in the room where your table will be placed, whether it's a separate dining room or an eat-in kitchen nook?
My dining room is formal and traditional, so I went with a classic look for my chairs. But today's trend is toward casual dining rooms, with more people picking tables that feel like they were taken from an old farmhouse. A fun benefit is that they look wonderful surrounded by different types of chairs, from formal to informal, small to large, even benches.
The parson's chair is a best seller at Nell Hill's because it's a classic style you can reinvent dozens of ways. We have covered parson's chairs in brown leather for a masculine, hunt-club look. We've upholstered them in marvelous graphic fabrics in zippy colors for a transitional or contemporary influence. And we have them made from texture-rich banana-leaf weaves, which look amazing in any decor, from an edgy urban loft to a romantic country home.
Getting furnishings that fit the scale of the room and balance with other pieces of furniture can be tricky. Most often, people get into trouble by selecting chairs that are too small. When you have a massive table surrounded by small chairs, the table overwhelms the chairs and destroys the balance.
If you want chairs that make a strong, bold statement, consider using upholstered side chairs like wing backs. One of my favorite looks is to use four wing-back chairs at round dining tables. Or, you could use wing backs as the host and hostess chairs at each end of a rectangular table. If your chairs are a bit small, sometimes just adding larger-scaled host and hostess chairs will give the grouping the visual weight it needs.
If your table is small or has delicate lines, smaller side chairs work perfectly.
When picking dining room chairs, remember that they don't need to match the table's material or finish. You can pick a similar style, or be daring and choose something wonderfully dissimilar.
What do you want your new dining room chairs to be made of? Stained wood? Distressed painted wood? Upholstery? Leather? Bamboo? Banana-leaf weave? Wicker? You have lots of great choices.
When selecting chairs, opt for finishes that fit your lifestyle. You probably don't want chairs upholstered in white fabric if you have toddlers, for instance. Or, if your heart is set on upholstered dining chairs, pick a family-friendly indoor-outdoor fabric or a dark color.
Sometimes, it's the tiny details that give a piece of furniture its personality. For example, by adding brass-nail-head trim to a parson's chair upholstered in leather and menswear fabric, we gave it an even more masculine feel.