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Dining Chair Guide: Choose the Perfect Dining Chairs for Your Home

How to Choose Dining Chairs to Fit Your Space

Choosing the right dining chair is essential for maximizing mealtime comfort and defining your dining room style. Fortunately, our dining chair guide to size, style, material and more has every inch of it covered.

Ensure a comfortable fit for any table by keeping a few standard dining chair dimensions in mind. The average dining chair seat height is 18 inches (floor to top of seat) and the typical dining table height is 30 inches, leaving 12 inches of legroom between them. Whatever your table's measurements, just make sure the dining chairs you choose afford diners approximately that same 12 inches. And if you're considering an armchair, be sure to leave right around 7 inches between the tops of the arms and the lowest part of your table.

When it comes to dining chair back height, dimensions are a little less standard and a lot more about where your style preferences lead you. A higher-backed chair (20 inches or more) can lend a formal feel to your table and give diners great back support, but more casual or stylized dining chairs can be comfy and chic with backs as low as 12 inches.

There's also a fair amount of variation in dining chair width, with the average chair falling between 16 and 20 inches wide, or a bit more with arms. But the averages are less important than the size of your specific dining table and the room it sits in. A good rule of thumb is to leave at least 6 inches between each dining chair to give your diners enough elbow room, and 36 inches between the chair backs and the wall (or other furniture) behind them so folks don't have too tight a squeeze pushing out from the table or walking around it.

Wondering how many chairs you need around your dining table? Counts may vary if your chairs fall well over or under standard dining chair dimensions, but these are the basics: A square or round table that's 48 inches fits four chairs, 60 inches fits six and 72 inches accommodates eight. For a rectangular or oval shape, think 72 inches for six chairs, 96 inches for eight and 120 inches for 10.

The Right Material for Your Dining Chairs

Whatever your aesthetic wants or practical needs, there's the perfect dining chair material to meet them.

Wood dining chairs are classic for a reason - they're sturdy, timeless and lend themselves to a whole host of different decor styles, from traditional to mid-century modern to rustic farmhouse. Natural or painted, with an upholstered seat or without, it's hard to go wrong with wood.

For a contemporary seat that's easy to keep clean, try metal dining chairs. Perfect for adding a dash of metallic shine or a pop of color to your decor, they're also an easy choice for rustic and industrial spaces. Concerned about comfort? Simply add a chair cushion that's easy to change whenever you want a fresh look.

Upholstered dining chairs offer comfortable seats for your diners and a soft, inviting look for your space. Fabric chair covering options are practically endless, so you're sure to find one to complement to your dining room, whether it's in a color that coordinates with your rug or artwork or a pattern you pick to make its own statement. Details like a channel back, button tufting or nail-head trim can further elevate your upholstered chair choice. If you're worried about wear and tear, look for stain-resistant fabrics or materials like leather or vinyl that are easy to wipe clean.

Your choices for chair materials don't stop there. Plastic dining chairs are lightweight and modern (and can be delightfully colorful, if that's the look you're after). Clear acrylic chairs are on-trend for contemporary dining rooms with an airy look that opens up your space. Achieve a warm, textural effect with natural fibers like wicker or rattan. Or have a little fun with a dining chair material mix, like an upholstered chair with metal legs or a wooden frame with a natural fiber seat. Whatever look and feel suits your style, you'll find chair materials to complement it.

Picking the Perfect Dining Chair Style

As with dining chair materials, dining chair styles are almost unbelievably abundant, which can make choosing one feel daunting. But by simply making a few key decisions, you can narrow the field considerably.

Armchair, side chair or bench? It was traditionally customary for a dining room table to have armchairs at the head and foot and chairs without arms, or side chairs, along the sides (hence the name). These days, of course, the style rules aren't nearly as prescribed, and you can make any combination of seating work. If you want a more luxurious look, have plenty of space at the table or put a premium on comfort, try armchairs all around. If you're short on space or after a more relaxed feel, opt for a full set of side chairs or a family-friendly bench.

Coordinating, complementary or eclectic? While there's no rule that says your dining room furniture has to match, dining room collections (coordinating dining table and chair sets) can certainly make your style decisions easy - and result in clean, consistent look. If you prefer a pairing that's a little less uniform, choose chairs that complement your table in either material, color or style without being a perfect match. Or opt for a cool, eclectic effect by mixing and matching your chairs. Keep some consistency by choosing the same chair in a variety of colors, or keeping the color uniform while mixing the styles. Or put a spin on traditional table rules by keeping the dining chairs along the sides the same and adding statement chairs at the head and foot.

What's your style? Finally, consider the dining chair style that best fits your taste and space. Modern dining chairs offer clean lines that can help define small spaces, while a traditional chair might be more at home in a larger formal dining room. A farmhouse aesthetic lends itself to warm woods and cozy benches, while a retro vibe might draw you to a mid-century style seat. But don't get too caught up in defining your dining chair style. Whatever category your chairs fall into, as long as they look and feel good to you, they're sure to provide the perfect place to gather.