Dining chairs are essential for enjoying a meal at your dining table. However, finding the best dining chairs to coordinate with your style and decor and keep you and your dinner guests comfortable as you eat and socialize can be a challenging task. The market is packed with dining chairs of different styles, colors, finishes, and qualities.
This guide is designed to share important considerations to keep in mind before purchasing dining chairs. Additionally, some of the best dining chairs available today are highlighted in a variety of categories so you can deck out your dining table in style.
- BEST OVERALL: Mercury Row Blaisdell Linen Upholstered Side Chairs
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Birch Lane Duron Metal Slat Back Side Chair Set of 2
- BEST MODERN: ALLMODERN Brie Solid Wood Upholstered Dining Chair
- BEST FORMAL: Ophelia & Co. Haleigh Upholstered King Louis Back
- BEST UPHOLSTERED: Latitude Run Fellsburg Linen Upholstered Parsons (4)
- BEST FARMHOUSE: August Grove Solid Wood Cross Back Chair (Set of 2)
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dining Chairs
Choosing the best dining chairs for a living space requires an assessment of your specific needs and preferences. Dining chairs are available in nearly any color, finish, or style imaginable, so deciding which features are most important before shopping can help focus the search. Use the key considerations outlined below to guide you.
Before purchasing dining chairs, it is important to think about the dining table you’ll be placing them around. Keep in mind that it’s essential to select dining chairs that will both fit around the dining table and complement its style. First, think about the overall size of the dining table and choose chairs that are appropriately sized. Measure the length and width of the table (or the diameter for round tables), and review the dimensions of the dining chairs to confirm they will fit. There should be at least 6 inches of elbow room between chairs to make sure guests aren’t too cramped.
In general, oval and rectangular tables with a 72-inch length should fit six chairs; oval and rectangular tables with a 96-inch length should fit eight chairs, and oval and rectangular tables with a 120-inch length should fit 10 chairs. Additionally, square and round tables with a 48-inch length or diameter should fit four chairs; square and round tables with a 60-inch diameter should fit six chairs, and square and round tables with a 72-inch diameter should fit eight chairs.
Finally, dining chairs should be the appropriate height to ensure individuals can sit comfortably at the table. As a general rule of thumb, there should be about 12 inches between the top of the dining table and the top of the seat of each chair. Measure the height of the table before shopping to identify the appropriate chair height.
The primary factor to consider before purchasing new dining chairs is the type of chair you prefer. There are many popular types of dining chairs from which to choose, including:
- Arm chairs: Traditionally, arm chairs sit at the head and foot of a dining table, but some may choose to purchase arm chairs to go around the entire table. As suggested by the name, they feature armrests and may be slightly larger than the other chairs around a dining table.
- Parsons chairs: Parsons chairs are armless dining chairs with a tall and straight back. They are fully upholstered, often with a linen or leather material.
- Wingback chairs: Wingback chairs are frequently found in more formal dining rooms. They feature a higher back with curved, or winged, sides. Wingback chairs have wooden legs and are usually upholstered.
- Ladder back chairs: Ladder back chairs feature a tall and narrow back with horizontal slats. The design resembles a ladder, hence the name.
- Cross back chairs: Cross back chairs feature an open X-back design that offers enhanced support for the individual sitting in the chair. Most commonly they are made from wood, but they can also be made from metal.
- Slat back chairs: Slat back chairs, as the name implies, feature a tall back with long, vertical slats to provide increased support.
- Splat back chairs: Splat back chairs feature a central vertical design piece with an otherwise open back. The central piece can vary quite drastically in design as splat back chairs can be found in styles ranging from traditional to modern.
- Folding chairs: Folding chairs can fold to take up less space when they are not in use. They are an ideal option for those who may require additional seating from time to time.
- Benches: Benches are designed to hold two or more people in the same seat. They are often about as long as one side of a dining table and may or may not have a back.
The material with which they are crafted is another important consideration when choosing dining chairs. Think about both the material of the chair frame as well as any upholstery that may be included. Keep in mind that some dining chairs may feature a mixture of the materials listed below.
Common Chair Frame Materials
- Wood: Wood is sturdy and found in a variety of chair types. It can be assembled or carved into many different shapes and styles. Wood chairs are also often stained or painted, allowing them to match a variety of existing decor.
- Metal: Metal is easy to clean and offers a sleek appearance. Unless the seat is upholstered, these chairs may not be as comfortable as other options.
- Rattan: Rattan chairs are made from a durable palm-based material. These lightweight chairs are most popular in coastal regions.
Common Upholstery Materials
- Leather: Leather is very durable and easy to clean.
- Polyester: Polyester is durable, resists wrinkles, and is relatively easy to clean.
- Cotton: Cotton is soft and comfortable, but it can stain easily.
- Polypropylene: Polypropylene, also called olefin, is very durable and easier to clean than other fabrics.
As you consider each of the above frame and upholstery material options, take into account their level of durability. Since dining room chairs are used when eating, it is also important to think about the amount of stain- and water-resistance each material provides.
When choosing a dining chair, comfort is another very important consideration since you—and possibly your family and your guests—will spend quite a bit of time sitting in dining chairs. Several factors can impact the comfort level of a dining chair, including:
- Supportive backs
- Padded seats (and backs)
- Ergonomic seats
- Swiveling bases
- Arm rests
- Seat size
- Seat height
Stackability refers to whether dining chairs can be stacked when not in use. This option can be especially useful for smaller spaces or dining rooms that pull double duty and also function as an office space or playroom part of the time. Stackable chairs can be placed in a corner or even moved to another room to open up space when needed. They may also be a logical option for those who entertain regularly but don’t have the space to leave extra chairs around the dining table.
Colors and Patterns
Consider the wide variety of colors and patterns when shopping for dining chairs. Keep in mind both the upholstered components of the chair (if present) as well as the finish or color of any wood or metal parts. Overall, it’s important to look for chairs that will complement the dining table and coordinate with other furniture, area rugs, artwork, placemats, and other items in the living space.
Just as there are numerous chair types to consider, there are also a variety of chair styles from which to choose, including:
- Contemporary: Contemporary chairs are designed to match current trends. They often have a relatively sleek and simple design and may or may not have armrests.
- Modern/Midcentury: Since modern design places a larger emphasis on the use of natural colors and strong lines, most modern dining chairs follow this trend. Modern dining chairs are often smaller than their more traditional counterparts and may have armrests or upholstered seats, though often they do not have these elements.
- Craftsman: Craftsman chairs are typically heavier than other chair styles since they often feature solid wood construction. While they are available in a variety of styles, the key to this design movement is a focus on quality construction and craftsmanship.
- Traditional: A number of different styles fall under the larger umbrella of traditional chairs. These include Victorian (elaborate and ornamental designs), French (wooden frames with upholstered seats and backs), and Colonial (elegant but less extravagant than other European styles of the same time frame).
- Farmhouse: Farmhouse chairs are often crafted from wood and feature a relatively simple design. They are often of the ladder back type, but more modern or rustic options are also available.
- Industrial: The industrial design movement focuses on the use of metals, woods, bricks, and other recycled materials, so industrial chairs are often made from metal or a mix of metal and wood.
Uniform vs. Mismatched
Finally, decide whether uniform or mismatched chairs are desirable. Uniform, or matching, chairs, are a more traditional choice. Each chair is identical, with the possible exception of slightly larger chairs with armrests for the head and foot of the table.
Mismatched chairs can be an eclectic option for bohemian or industrial-style dining rooms. As the name implies, mismatched chairs don’t match; they all purposely feature a different type, material, color, or style. With mismatched chairs, you can choose a variety of different chair types and styles to create a more diverse and varied look around the dining table.
Our Top Picks
The top picks for some of the best dining chairs on the market today feature chairs, or sets of chairs, that boast quality construction and materials. These options were selected to fit a wide range of styles and preferences to help individuals choose dining chairs that will complement their space and keep their families and guests comfortable while eating and socializing around the table.
Mercury Row offers these Blaisdell upholstered side chairs in sets of two. Featuring a contemporary style, the chairs boast solid rubberwood legs with a deep redwood tone. A mix of solid wood and manufactured wood is used to make the base and frame of these chairs. They are designed with a slightly curved and padded back and a cushioned base to provide comfort and support.
The base and sides of the chair are upholstered. Four fabric and color options are available: gray fabric, dark gray linen, gray linen, and off-white linen. The seats are 16 inches wide and slightly over 18 inches off the floor. These nonstacking chairs can each support up to 250 pounds.
This set of two Duron metal side chairs from Birch Lane features an industrial look with a splat back design. The primary metal used to construct these chairs is steel, which is a very durable option. Choose from four colors/finishes: matte black, distressed black, white, and silver.
These dining chairs are an ideal choice for those with smaller dining rooms; when not needed, they can be stacked to take up less space. The legs are slightly tapered and narrow out at the base. The seat on each chair is 14.5 inches wide and 18 inches off the ground. Each chair has a 300-pound capacity.
For those who are fans of modern decor, this set of two midcentury modern dining chairs may be an attractive choice. These upholstered and sustainably sourced chairs offer a comfortable and supportive scoop seat with a padded back. They also feature slightly flared armrests and angled solid wood legs with a walnut finish.
A synthetic fiberfill with a polyester-blend fabric that resists stains covers the chairs. Three fabric options are available: navy blue, curry yellow, and rusty orange. Each chair is 19 inches off the ground and can support up to 400 pounds. These chairs do not stack.
This upholstered French King Louis side chair from Ophelia & Co. could be a fashionable addition to a more formal dining room. It boasts a carved rubberwood frame with an upholstered seat and back. The upholstery for this chair features a durable polyester-blend fabric. The available color options are Linen (beige), Klein Azure (dark blue), Klein Sea (gray), and Klein Otter (brown).
This chair can support up to 200 pounds. The seat is both 19.25 inches wide and 19.25 inches off the ground. This is not a stackable chair.
The Fellsburg Linen Parsons chairs from Latitude Run come in a set of four. Each chair features a fully upholstered foam-filled base and back to provide maximum comfort. Gray, beige, and brown linen fabric options are available.
These nonstacking chairs provide an 18-inch-wide seat that is 16.9 inches off the ground. The solid wood legs allow each chair to support up to 280 pounds.
August Grove’s cross back side chairs are a logical addition to a farmhouse-style dining room or kitchen table. The two chairs in this set are made from solid rubberwood and feature an open X-back design. They are available in espresso, rich mocha, cinnamon/espresso, and bright white finishes, with several others to choose from.
Each chair has an 18.9-inch wide seat that is 17.5 inches off the ground and can support up to 250 pounds. These chairs do not stack.
FAQs About Dining Chairs
Do you still have a few questions about choosing the best dining chairs for your living space? Check out several of the most frequently asked questions about dining chairs and their corresponding answers below.
Q. What makes a good dining chair?
The definition of a “good dining chair” may vary from person to person. In general, a good dining chair is one that is supportive, comfortable, and durable. Dining chairs should also coordinate with the style of the dining table and overall living space (unless you’re purposefully going for a mismatched look).
Q. What are the most durable dining chairs made of?
Solid wood and metal are both durable materials that are commonly used to make dining chairs. Quality construction from a reputable manufacturer is another important consideration when looking for durable dining chairs.
Q. Do dining chairs have to match the dining table?
No, dining chairs do not need to match the dining table. When purchasing chairs to use with an existing dining table, you can look for similar materials or colors to complement the style of the table or choose dining chairs that stand out as a contrast to the table. Industrial and bohemian styles often feature mismatched chairs.