Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to choose dining room furniture: the chairs

Yes, my blog did get covered in cobwebs ... I am blowing and swatting as I write :) Perspective happens when a parent is ill and dying, and it happened to me. But I am through the worst of it now and happily feeling my creative juices flow again.

I thought I’d start with getting back to the topic I started last Fall – things to think about when you’re treating yourself/ves to new dining room furniture.

The hardest thing about interior decorating – I find – is that there are sooo many wonderful choices, it can be really hard to make a decision! If you happen to absolutely love just one look and know for sure what you’ll be happy with for years to come – consider yourself blessed.

It’s one of the reasons why most people ‘play it safe’ when buying furniture / making decisions on the pricier / fixed items in one’s home. And it can definitely be argued that if you go classic and neutral, your money is well spent with furniture that can be considered timeless.

This Palm Beach dining room by Gary McBournie is stunning, yes?!

In my post on how to choose a dining table, I advocated for not buying a "matching" dining table and chair "set". In that post, I outlined a process for selecting your table. Now some thoughts when it comes to selecting your chairs:

The first element we started with when selecting the table was the lines of the table. This of course is also important when it comes to the chairs, but you can mix and match here more easily and still have a successful look.

Ellen O’Neill

What makes the “shiny new” glossy red chairs work with the (very!) shabby end chairs in the picture above is the other red links in the space. But, I advocate another element to be your first consideration:

Is the chair comfortable?!!

While this may seem like an obvious point, it’s surprising how many people choose chairs first because of colour, 2nd because of price (or vice versa), 3rd because of how the chair fits with the overall design of their space – with comfort coming in close to last.

Suzanne Shaker

While all those other elements are also important, you want to have your meals – and you want your guests to enjoy their meals – in comfort. Can you sit comfortably for a 2-hr meal in your current chairs [even for a breakfast nook, I wouldn't want to sit in the above ones too long ...]? What about your last ones?

I’m not advocating for a sofa at your dining table (although designers are also doing that these days ...) – just don’t buy your chairs solely because they look good and you like the price, and you think you can “live with” how comfortable they don’t feel in the store ...

Spray-painting antiques / 2nd-hand store finds and adding new seat cushions is a great way to link in other design elements/colours in your space and give your dining/eating area a unique look.

Jonathan Adler

I do think you can achieve a great look if you really prefer to have one "set" of chairs around a table – as long as you do something to make the chairs more interesting.

Whether it’s as simple as the two end chairs having arms (otherwise being the same as the side chairs, like in the 2nd image above), or mixing it up with different upholstery on the back of the chairs (re: upholstered chairs).

If you like the ‘mixed chairs’ look, one way to ensure success is by having at least one element linking them – whether it’s shape / lines or a colour.

In my own space, in which I recently implemented newly-purchased dining chairs (bought the dining table 3 yr’s ago and had gotten very inexpensive ‘temporary’ chairs until we had it in our budget to get what I really wanted [I mean we ...]), I decided at the outset that I wanted the end chairs to be completely different from the side chairs.

While I did select all chairs whose legs have similar lines to them, the colour, shape and scale of the end chairs are different from the side chairs. What makes it work in the space is that each of the chairs link to other elements in the space – the end platinum-upholstered chairs work with the dove grey floors and other grey items in the open space.

Elizabeth Roberts Design

And the side white ‘animal-friendly’ leather ;) chairs link to the white stools at the island, with the espresso wood trim on the chairs directly linking to the dining table. {The end chairs were custom upholstered by local Vangogh Designs – yes, these were a splurge, but the side chairs were inexpensive making the whole set less than what we were prepared to pay. And they’re both very comfortable!}

Little side plug here: contact me if you’d like to explore Vangogh furniture options.

There is a lot more to be said, of course, on the topic of how to select dining chairs. Era of chair / style / appropriateness of chair in your space, the size of the chair(s) [think of the biggest member of your family / guests you invite over frequently], material [kid-friendly?] ...

While it can be overwhelming, start by deciding whether you want more of a “set”, or if you want (just) the two end chairs to be different, or if you want to completely mix it up. Then decide on upholstered vs. wood or a combination.

Look at images on the net and in shelter mags until you’ve got these ones figured out – starting to shop could otherwise put you in a tailspin.

It's Your Space, Your Place, Your Life -- want a great-looking space that embibes the feel you'll love living in? Contact Liz to help make it happen!


   Gary McBournie
   Ellen O’Neill
   Suzanne Shaker
   Jonathan Adler
Elizabeth Roberts Design


  1. Fast of all you have great blog. There are lot advice for choosing a dinning furniture product. Thanks for sharing information about furniture Vancouver, how-to-buy-dining-room-furniture, interior decorating Vancouver, interior design Vancouver, Vangogh Designs etc.

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  2. Hi! Nice blog for commenting..People share their experience which is very good for all the new user .Thanks for every one who share their experience.Thanks for sharing information about furniture Vancouver, how-to-buy-dining-room-furniture, interior decorating Vancouver, interior design Vancouver, Vangogh Designs etc.
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  3. Are you trying to tell me that the fold-up chairs I have aren't comfortable? Okay, okay, you're right.

    I like the new look of the blog, too!

  4. This is excellent.
    You need to consider the style of your home when choosing the best dinning room furniture.Good dinning room furniture should be easy to clean and safe. For this reason, get only family-friendly furniture with this regard.
    You also need to know what type of a budget you have because most dining room furniture sets are not the cheapest item in your home, though with a bit of searching you can quite often find the best deals.

  5. Helpful post. From what you posted, the dining room sets picked seem to be an extension of the space itself. Thanks for sharing these photos.

  6. I just love this designs of dining room furniture sets. Comfort, simplicity and elegance has been considered.

  7. Thanks for this post! Some great inspiration here! I like to make the dining room into a more relaxed space with seats such as the eames lounger.

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for the wonderful ideas. I just specially the flower one chairs. They are simply superb as they give a freshness look according to me.
    They are the wonderful designs of dining room furniture.

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  10. So lovely, thank you for this great post! I love it.

  11. A light cream color with a smooth dark wood stain on top of a real solid wood frame construction designed with the true rustic authenticity of the old west.
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